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R. Strauss - Don Quixote / Wagner - Overtures

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

Price: £6.99
Only 1 left in stock.
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Product details

  • Audio CD (18 Mar. 1997)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: EMI Classics
  • ASIN: B000002S8A
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 61,486 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Intro
  2. Thema
  3. Variation I
  4. Variation II
  5. Variation III
  6. Variation IV
  7. Variation V
  8. Variation VI
  9. Variation VII
  10. Variation VIII
  11. Variation IX
  12. Variation X
  13. Finale
  14. Overture & Venusberg Music (Paris Version) - Berlin Philharmonic
  15. Overture - Berlin Philharmonic

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Karajan made two excellent DG recordings of Don Quixote with P.Fournier & Meneses, but personally I like this EMI recording with Rostropovich best. Rostropovich's style of playing is very appropriate for the characterisation of the knight, and the orchestra part has more urgency and grandeur helped by acoustics of Philharmonie and much emphasis on bass, even though the sound is dry and steely compared to the DG versions.

If you want truly outstanding recordings of the work, my recommendations are Reiner/Janigro RCA Living Stereo & Levine/Met Orchestra DG.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars 2 reviews
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gorgeously played, extraordinarily insightful 24 Aug. 2000
By cdsullivan@massed.net - Published on Amazon.com
This recording of what is probably Strauss's greatest tone poem was made in 1975, when Karajan and Rostropovich were both at the height of their powers. It lives up to all expectations. First of all, the balance between orchestra and cello solo is excellent. This is not a cello concerto, but an orchestral piece with a part for solo cello. Secondly, the Berlin Philharmonic (it hardly needs to be said) plays with fiery intensity, beautiful tone and incredible virtuosity. This was the best orchestra in the world at this time, and it shows. Thirdly, the contributions of Rostropovich and Ulrich Koch (the solo violist) are superb. Rostropovich produces rich, full, beautiful tone but also paints a detailed portrait of Don Quixote, leading the listener straight into Quixote's head. He brings out Strauss's ingenious portrayal of the Don's gradual descent into insanity, until his death, where, as the excellent liner notes point out, he regains his wits. Rostropovich plays the magnificent death scene movingly. Last, but certainly not least, is Karajan's conducting. From the bleating sheep in Variation II to the lyrical outpourings of Variation III to the amazing flying horse in Variation VII, this master Straussian completely understands every part of the complex score, and has complete control of his forces, bringing everything together to produce what is probably the best Don Quixote on record.
The two Wagner overtures make excellent fillers. Tannhäuser has a nobility (for the Pilgrim's Chorus theme) and an exotic flavor (for the Venusberg music) that are ideal, and Die Meistersinger has a thrilling richness and depth. The analogue sound has been skilfully remastered using EMI's ART system, and now there is no tape-hiss at all. This is a superb achievement and, at mid-price, a bargain, too.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don Quixote in the full flight of Late Romanticism 15 Jan. 2014
By dv_forever - Published on Amazon.com
Rostropovich and Karajan collaborated only a handful of times. From my knowledge, I only know Dvorak's Cello Concerto, Tchaikovsky's Rococo Variations, Beethoven's Triple Concerto alongside Richter and Oistrakh and this Don Quixote. Please make a note in the comments section if I'm missing something. Each collaboration showcased the mutual understanding between soloist, conductor and orchestra. Rostropovich and Karajan are on the same page. They both love a big sound and heroic gestures. Karajan's obsession with grandeur and nobility are underlined by Rostropovich's humane warmth. His cello stands out amidst the massive Berlin wall of sound. Some listeners want the solo cello part to blend more into the fabric. "This is not a concerto." True, it's a tone poem and there's no better Don Quixote than Rostropovich. This is a massive reading of the kind one would expect from the Karajan Berlin Philharmonic. Karajan's style was a perfect fit for Richard Strauss.

Having heard the more modest Don Quixotes under Szell, Reiner, Kempe and Levine, why would anyone not want to get the full on late romantic experience from Karajan and Rostropovich? Listen to Variation III, which is track 5. Half way through the track, the Berlin strings are unleashed completely. Truly an orgasmic display of sound. The later variation, "Flight through the Air" gets that wind machine working with the brass, absolutely stunning! Haven't heard better. The later sections and the death of Don Quixote are played for all their worth by Rostropovich. The EMI sound has all the lushness and warmth that the music demands.

Not only do you get perhaps the greatest Don Quixote on disc, you also get two choice Wagner selections. The Tannhauser Overture and Venusberg Music has never been played better in my experience. The central section that Wagner composed for the Paris premiere is orgiastic and sensational. Wagner was under the influence of his own Tristan and Isolde here as he went back to Tannhauser and inserted this bit of sorcery into an extended version of the famous overture. This is some of the wildest, most intoxicated and demented music Wagner ever wrote. The Berlin Philharmonic simply goes berserk in this section. Then after a fever induced heart attack, the music quiets down and the distant chorus comes in as if beckoning to us from heaven. A thrill ride that ends in peace.

The Meistersinger Overture is also included. Karajan's version is as good as any on the market with a resounding climax at the end. The sound quality throughout the Meistersinger and the Tannhauser Overture and Venusberg Music is gloriously decadent luxury to match the work on Don Quixote, a perfect synch to the aesthetics of the performance. I've had this beautiful CD in my collection for years and I'm listening to an excerpt as I write this. The Variation III, track 5 of Don Quixote. The strings! In a word, wow!
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