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Strauss: An Alpine Symphony

4.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Orchestra: Bayeriches Staatskapelle
  • Conductor: Richard Strauss
  • Composer: Richard Strauss
  • Audio CD (10 Dec. 2001)
  • SPARS Code: ADD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Dutton
  • ASIN: B00005V324
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 469,044 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Night - Nacht
  2. Sunrise - Sonnenaufgang
  3. The Climb - Der Ansteig
  4. Entering the Wood - Wandering by the side of the brook - Eintritt in den Wald - Wanderung neben dem Bache
  5. By the waterfall - Am Wasserfall
  6. The apparition - Erscheinung
  7. Flowering meadows - Auf blumigen Wiesen
  8. In the mountain pasture - Aud der Alm
  9. On the wrong track through the thickest and undergrowth - Durch Dickicht und Gestrupp aud Irrwegen
  10. On the glacier - Auf dem Gletscher
  11. Precarious moments - Gerfahrvolle Augenblicke
  12. The Vision - Vision
  13. Rising mists - Nebel steigen auf
  14. The sun gradually dims - Die Sonne verdustert sich allmachlich
  15. Elegy - Elegie
  16. Calm before the storm - Stille vor dem Sturm
  17. Thunderstorm, dhe descent - Gewitter un Sturm, Absteig
  18. Sunset - Sonnenuntergang
  19. Epilogue - Ausklang
  20. Night - Nacht
  21. Waltzes- Act 3
  22. Tone Poem

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Strauss at full tilt can be quite taxing even for modern recording technology and orchestral playing if the climaxes are not simply to be an incoherent din, so it came as a surprise to learn from Alan Sanders' notes elsewhere that the first recording of An Alpine Symphony was made in acoustic days. The 1941 electric recording here bears out Strauss' talent for balance: he can clarify rich textures without `point-making' and lingering on details. I heard phrases echoed and handed round the orchestra, too - in an almost Mozartian way - but somehow this is not so apparent in performances from respected Straussians such as Kempe or Karajan, even from Strauss' sometime assistant George Szell, though obviously the sound in more recent recordings has more punch, range and the spacial benefits of stereophony.
The Rosenkavalier waltzes were also recorded in Munich in 1941: they sound warm and lighthearted although they end quite abruptly at 7 minutes 38 and I wonder whether there may have been some tailoring of the music to fit two sides of a 12" 78.
Dutton `restorations' tend to be warm sounding and reasonably free from 78 shellac surface noise but I was able to compare one of the `fillers' - Don Juan from 1929 - with the Pearl transfer to CD on GEMM CD 9366 and I'm not sure that the Dutton approach is all gain because (as with the Philips `no noise' system) the removal of the background/surface noise has also taken away some of the `air', sense of place and higher frequency character of the sound. The ears even of young people brought up to digital recordings soon learn to ignore the extraneous noise and register the better detail of the Pearl discs.
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This is a unique historical performance, conducted wonderfully by the composer himself and played with skill and passion by the orchestra. While the sound is mono, the transfer to CD by the wizards at Dutton works remarkably well, and I really didn't find I was distracted in any way from fully enjoying this marvellous performance. Not the only version to have, certainly - but nonetheless required listening if you want to understand how Strauss himself viewed and conducted this work. Other very good "modern" recordings to try are from Reiner (Chicago - RCA), Previn (VPO - Telarc) and Pesek (RLPO - Virgin).
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x929bf168) out of 5 stars 4 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x92afc324) out of 5 stars An artifact of the best kind 25 Oct. 2002
By Bruce Hodges - Published on Amazon.com
These performances have been around for awhile, but never sounding as sumptuous as they do here. The glorious "Alpine Symphony" was recorded in 1941 in Munich, and the "Don Juan" is from an astonishing 1929. (A performance of waltzes from "Rosenkavalier" is also included.) This disc shows that Strauss was not only a great composer but a superb conductor; his "Alpine Symphony" is as beautifully phrased as any I've ever heard (and there are many fine Strauss interpreters out there), and the Bavarian orchestra sounds lovely.
What struck me immediately about this disc is the brass timbre: much firmer, with almost no "wobble" than you typically hear in recordings of this era. There is a presence that one usually hears only in later, more modern efforts. And with the "Don Juan," recorded even earlier, it is quite amazing that this is listenable at all, but Dutton's engineers have managed to squeeze the most possible out of the tape.
However, it must be said that some listeners will still be impatient with the sound and require more contemporary recordings (such as those by von Karajan, Haitink or Blomstedt, for example), simply because with better sonics, the colossal orchestration of these pieces is shown to much better advantage.
This caveat is no reflection whatsoever on Dutton's magnificent work; the company has done the best job imaginable with the material. For many fans this will be an essential document, thanks to Dutton's amazing engineers who have given it seemingly magical new life.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x92afc738) out of 5 stars A milestone musical document! 9 Oct. 2005
By Hiram Gòmez Pardo Venezuela - Published on Amazon.com
Richard Strauss (1864-1949) was probably, the greatest composer-conductor of the century, rivaled perhaps by Gustav Mahler.

Strauss composed this work in the dawns of the WW1, 1914. Ten years had elapsed from the Domestic Symphony , fruitful period in which composed Electra, Salome, Das Rosenklavier and Ariadna in Naxos.

This work is to my taste together with Also Sprach Zaratustra and Death and transfiguration my favorite trilogy of him.

If you realize about the whole structure, which consists in just one movement, we can assume he was thinking in a very expansive tone-poem, his particular Pastoral dedicated to the impressive mountains and perpetual snows. He knew to extract the maximum possibilities of the orchestra, remarking the style of the symphonic ponderosity. A whole arsenal of the most unusual instruments: wind machine, thunder machine and cowbells, in addition to the usual percussion instruments, plus a specially organized brass group offstage consisting of twelve horns, two trumpets and two trombones. An ostentatious anachronism if you want, according the perspectives of that time.

The Bavarian State played this work with meticulous bravery, legitimate pride and profound conveyance. Apart the importance historic of this performance (Strauss in his 77), it remains in the surroundings a clear sensation of emotiveness and display of pronouncement respect these war years. You can feel it beneath the score.

There are in my opinion three legendary versions of the Alpine: a renown and admired performance of Zubin Meta with the Angeles Philharmonic from the seventies, a careful and elaborated performance of one of my favorite directors any time: I mean Rudolf Kempe and this one.

An invaluable performance that will endure securely the taste acid of the years, remaining such as a solid oak and also a historic legacy for the new generations who will survive us.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9216eb7c) out of 5 stars I've found my desert island disc 12 Feb. 2007
By Pernickity - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
This legendary recording of the Alpine Symphony is the one to take to your desert island. It was made in 1941 but it sounds as though it was recorded yesterday. The original surface noise is filtered to near inaudibility - Dutton's restoration is a must-have. There's nothing like hearing Strauss conduct his own works during the wartime. Now that's history!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x92afc918) out of 5 stars Strauss conducts his Alpine Symphony 17 Aug. 2011
By Robert E. Nylund - Published on Amazon.com
This is a performance to cherish, especially because the composer conducted the orchestra in the symphony. It was only the second recording made of the ambitious work, which requires such a large orchestra and special instruments. German engineering often set the pace and led the way, using Telefunken microphones that were the best in the world. Even the recordings made in the 1920s were among the best, as Strauss' recording of "Don Juan" demonstrates. I had the original 78-rpm discs of "Don Juan," released in the U.S. by Brunswick with a gold label, and they were amazing. I don't think anyone has given us such a powerful performance of the heroic music of the man who tried the impossible in seeking the ideal woman.

The first recording I ever heard of "An Alpine Symphony" was this one in its LP reissue by Seraphim Records, featuring a wonderful black and white photograph of the composer. I don't think anyone has ever equaled this performance, although the Seraphim issue sometimes failed to fully capture the dynamics of the original recording. It is wonderful that someone has finally restored this performance of such an awesome and inspiring work. No wonder that Strauss lived most of his life close to the Alps. There is film footage of him walking on his property with the magnificent mountains nearby; these were the mountains that inspired this music. Strauss takes on a journey over the mountains in his music and it is tremendous to hear him conducting his composition.
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