David Zinman continues his Tonhalle Strauss series
with this generous compilation containing Don Juan, Till Eulenspiegel
and Also Sprach Zarathustra. Whereas some of his performances
make less well known music available at the Arte Nova bargain
price, here the competition is both widespread and formidable.
That said, there is no reason to be less than enthusiastic about
this new issue, which again shows the Swiss orchestra and their
American conductor on very good form, aided by the rich and resonant
Arte Nova sound.
The performance of Don Juan has a real sweep
of momentum. Although the opening does not have quite the élan
of either Rudolf Kempe (EMI) or Herbert von Karajan (DG), the
attack and keenly articulated ensemble are still of a high order.
The solo oboe is nicely coloured in the lyrical episode, the tempo
perfectly judged. The only real disappointment is the great climax
featuring the horn section, which seems slightly under-powered.
Till Eulenspiegel is one of those pieces that
is so rich in detail, the problem can easily become one of how
to maintain a longer-term view across its whole span. There are
no such dangers for Zinman here, and he is particularly successful
in reconciling the different aspects of this most illustrative
of narrative tone poems. The highlight, as Strauss surely intended
it must be, is the final scene of the hanging, which is thrilling
in its rhythmic confidence and precision.
Also Sprach Zarathustra is the largest of these
three symphonic poems, and Zinman paces the performance very well
indeed. The famous sunrise opening is recorded with a sensitively
drawn atmospheric range, but the organ sounds a little under-powered
rather than adding a really climactic effect. After that the ebb
and flow of complex lines of development are expertly paced, and
the sensitively drawn final section is particularly satisfying.
At the Arte Nova super bargain price, this is a very competitive