More classic interpretations
from the RCA Living Stereo SACD series.
Richard Strauss could almost have designed
his scores as sonic spectaculars, and
the bright light of RCA’s recordings
helps paint these works in almost psychedelic
fashion. Both works on this disc are
divided by the composer into named sections,
all of which are individually tracked
here for ease of reference.
Reiner’s Also sprach
is miraculous not only because of the
luscious sound picture it presents,
but also for a structural grasp that
ensures the piece at no moment sprawls.
There is hiss accompanying the subterranean
opening, but there is also a palpable
sense of anticipation. Sunrise is mightily
impressive – yet is that a touch of
wow in the organ afterglow immediately
populate the ‘Unseen world’ – the close-miking
only emphasises their intimate murmurings.
But for evidence of Reiner’s affinity
for Strauss one need only point to ‘Of
joys and passions’.
The sheer discipline
of this performance is remarkable, but
so is Reiner’s ear for colour. ‘The
convalescent’ is darkly presented, so
that when light comes, it really glistens
at around four minutes into this track.
Some of the sparkles of the following
section could almost come from the pen
is a remarkable essay in self-aggrandisement.
Reiner makes sure the hero we encounter
is bold and fearless. The spiky, nit-picking
critics, heard this close up, are an
intimidating lot. His wife, though,
is altogether more complex – heard,
of course, in the form of the solo violin,
here the truly excellent John Weicher.
the Battle Field is one of the utmost
carnage, with mechanistic rhythms and
the quasi-atonal elements emphasised.
Perhaps the ascending trumpet line could
have been more of an agonised cry, but
the rhythmic unison at 5’24 (track 13)
and the ensuing, forceful octave outcome
carry real structural weight. The close
of the work has all of the harmonic
and textural repose necessary - which
is a lot, considering the histrionics
of the Battle. This Hero does indeed
achieve peace as he retreats from the