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R Strauss: Metamorphoses / Death And Transfiguration
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KARAJAN HERBERT VON / BERLIN P
Top Customer Reviews
In Tod & Verklarung, BPO's woodwinds play like a dream, brass is gloriously vivid, strings make heavenly sound, bass is always emphasized to create depth and grandeur. The music culminates in mind blowingly overwhelmming, massive finale with extra thrust which other conductors always fail to add. As far as I know Reiner and Jarvi come very close to Karajan's account, and Abbado made outstanding recording with DG (sadly deleted) with even greater ending, but overall this recording towers over the rest for the sheer richness and the depth of music making.
I don't know why, but each time I listen to this particular recording of Metamorphosen, the final scene in Hesse's Demian (of the soldier dying in a battle place) comes to my mind. Under Karajan, the whole music becomes a kaleidoscope of flashbacks seen by a dying soldier. Karajan, who must have witnessed the devastation of war-torn Berlin himself, captures this elegiac atmosphere like no other conductors. The timing of the awe-inspiring moment of silence - just before the final climax - is perfect! The brisk tempo increases the sense of urgency and the trance-like intensity.
Both performances are beautifully recorded with huge dynamic range and sumptuous sound quality.
If you'd like to explore different recordings of the works, Karajan's DECCA version of T&V, Fritz Reiner's DECCA&RCA Living Stereo recordings, Abbado, Ashkenazy and Jarvi's digital recordings, and Klemperer's very unique account of Metamorphosen are well worth listening. Maazel also made outstanding RCA recording of T&V together with amazing recordings of Strauss' other Tone Poems.
The other work on the CD is something along the same lines - Death and Transfiguration, as happened to the Munich Opera House. This was composed 1889/90 with a detailed programmatic description. With the same idea as Sibelius' `Valse triste', it tells the story of a man on his deathbed recalling his youthful adventures and love affairs. After his death, his soul passes into spirit `to find, gloriously achieved in eternity, those ideals which could not be fulfilled here below'. Now Strauss has the full orchestra at his disposal and what a wonderful job he makes of using it. Highly recommended.
Tod und Verklärung is my favourite of Strauss' tone poems. Listening to it should be done only when alone, when doing nothing else, and at full volume. Only then will the experience be complete. It is quite simply breathtaking. I don't think a piece of music (save Wagner's Leibestod in Tristan und Isolde) has ever come close to capturing 'Death and Transfiguration' (the English translation of its title) - literally. It is impossible to write of the sheer power and beauty that this music contains, given its greatest (ignore anyone else who says otherwise) ever performance by Karajan and the BPO. He ennobles the final transformation theme at the end with a unique restrained ecstasy.
This CD proves not only that Karajan was master of these pieces as was the BPO, but that he was master of Strauss' music. There has never been anyone so able to communicate Strauss with such masterly authority. A stunning CD.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
In reality, the music will have sounded fine, but on this recording it's terrible! It's a destitute recording, the violins are like bulldozers, there's no sound depth, it's all... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Clevereye
It's almost pointless to praise a recording so celebrated and renowned throughout the lands. If civilisation does not fail, this digital Metamorphosen from September 1980 will... Read morePublished 18 months ago by Bernard Michael O'Hanlon