Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Music Webmaster
Len Mullenger:

Also sprach Zarathustra, op.30;
Don Quixote, op.35 (a)
James Krieger (cello) (a); Roger Benedict (viola) (a),
Philharmonia Orchestra/Djong Victorin Yu.
Guild GMCD 7204 [77' 44"]

When I first saw this I thought of all the Reiners, Kempes and Karajans that had been here before and asked myself: was it worth doing? Well, I have to say it was. Yu shares with the great Straussians of the past an ability to maintain a Mozartian clarity in the most crowded textures, to create excitement without hysteria and to languish without losing the basic pulse. Furthermore, the beautifully balanced recording creates an impression of wide dynamic range without actually going beyond what can reasonably be encompassed in a normal living-room. The overall impression is of great musicality and in fact after a while I found myself listening to the music rather than the performance. Would that this happened more often!

In Don the soloists are balanced as members of the orchestra and their playing is similarly closer to chamber music than concerto-style projection. Since Strauss wished to have the parts played by the front desks of the orchestra this would seem all to the good, and for most of the time it does so. But it has to be said that the "greats" have got an emotional charge out of the Don's death which is missing here. What should be the culmination of the whole great work seems a bit bland.

All the same, this is an issue that can be recommended with every confidence. The Reiners, Kempes and Karajans are never going to be exactly surpassed, but here is a slap in the face to the "they-don't-make-them-like-that-any-more" brigade. And with excellent notes on music and performers in three languages, full documentation and numerous track entries, Guild have clearly taken a lot of care over the "total product".

Christopher Howell

Also Sprach Zarathustra

Don Quixote

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