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Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

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Len Mullenger:

Ein Heldenleben, Op. 40, Also sprach Zarathustra Op. 30, Aus Italien Op. 16, 'Salome': excerpts, 'Sinfonia Domestica', Op. 53, 'Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme', Suite Op. 60, Don Quixote Op. 35, Till Eulenspiegel Op. 35, Don Juan, Op. 20.
Christel Goltz, Julius Patzak, Pierre Fournier, Ernst Moraweg,
Wiener Philharmoniker Clemens Krauss
Testament SBT 1183-6 4 discs oas 76m, 73m, 79m, 73m ADD (Recorded 1950-53 in the Musikvereinsaal Vienna).

SBT 1183 Heldenleben, Also sprach Zarathustra Crotchet    Amazon UK
SBT 1184 Sinfonia Domestica  Bourgeois Gentilhomme Crotchet    Amazon UK
SBT 1185 Aus Italien Salome exc
Crotchet  Amazon UK
SBT 1186 Don Quixote, Till Eulenspiegel, Don Juan Crotchet  Amazon UK

It is indeed justly fitting that Clemens Krauss' authorative Strauss series is now available in magnificently remastered sound on Testament. The early Decca recordings were always a model of clarity, Cyrill Windebank and his peerless team managed to secure a marvelously rich sound from the cavernous acoustics of the Musikvereinsaal. The reissue of these tapes on low cut Decca Eclipse LPs was their last incarnation and they now make a triumphant reappearance after over twenty years of unjust neglect.

Krauss' credentials as a superb Straussian are forever in evidence and with such illustrious principals as Ernst Moraweg, Pierre Fournier and his magnificent leader, Willi Boskovsky then the whole project takes on an air of invincibility. 'Ein Heldenleben' blazes forth with humanity and triumph, cataclasymic fights with critics and solemn resignation have never sounded so wondrously evocative, perhaps only Kempe equals Krauss for ultimate nobility. And even if the limited resources of 1950 recordings put the opening of 'Also sprach Zarathustra' slightly in the shade there is no denying the visceral excitement that Krauss conjures throughout this epic traversal of Nietztshe. The symphonic poem 'Aus Italien' is also aristocratically done, here the rhythmic inflexions of Strauss's Latin invecture is wonderfully alive throughout. I especially enjoyed the breathtaking Finale with all Italian folk elements coming quite brilliantly to the fore. The 'Salome' excerpts are also brilliantly done with Christel Goltz a Salome in the Nilsson mode, her final monologue is quite devastating throughout.

Another great interpretation is the 'Sinfonia Domestica'. Here Krauss is completely at one with the composer's wishes viz-a-vis tempi and the general pulse behind the music which comes the fore in all its colourful glory in the roudingly bombastic Finale where all mayhem really breaks loose amongst the family! This excellently recorded version can count to be as one of the most successful of them all alongside Karajan's classic 1973 BPO account. The accompanying 'Borgeois Gentilhomme' is mildly played and is as exquisite as ever, showing off the qualities of those still fabled post war VPO strings.

The final disc under review includes Fournier and Moraweg in a classic 'Don Quixote' that is also a front runner. The music moves along with untoward nobility and the descriptive pages of the lifelike score come to life in a startlingly realistic way. The aristocratic playing of these two artists is matched by the exemplary leading of Willi Boskovsky. The accompanying 'Till' and 'Don Juan' are dashingly brilliant although at the end slightly uneventful, there is no perfection of characterization that appears so readily with Kempe and Karajan. It is a pity that there is no 'Tod und Verklarung' but the whole collection of four discs is quite superbly remastered and on all counts is a major re-release in the Strauss discography that cannot afford to go unnoticed. A copious and informative essay by Mike Ashman accompanies all four booklets with short but effective descriptions of the works featured.

Gerald Fenech



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