Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) Don Juan, Op. 20 (1888) [16:09] Till
Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche (1894)
[14:43] Der Rosenkavalier - Waltzes arr.
Kempe (1911) [17:46] Metamorphosen (1945)
rec. Lukaskirche, Dresden, 13-24 June 1970 (Don, Till),
27-29 June (Waltzes), 1-5 January (Metam.) 1973 EMI
CLASSICS GREAT RECORDINGS OF THE CENTURY 3458262 [74:11]
These are classic recordings, fully deserving of their
status as great recordings of the last century. The simply
sound of the Dresdeners is captured perfectly in the Lukaskirche
acoustic. Just listen to the glowing opening of Metamorphosen!
The producer is David Mottley; the engineer Claus Strüben.
Kempe's Don Juan is fast, driven and urgent in its
famous opening bars. The solo violin is sweet-toned but
not saccharinely so there is just a hint of bite there.
The horns are warm of tone but swagger surely in their
famous theme. The remastering, done at Abbey Road, preserves
all the warmth while retaining all the detail.
It is the effect of a real narration that sets Kempe's Eulenspiegel apart.
The lyrical passage around 3:50 in fact really does seem
to be telling us a story, and effects are remarkably graphic
towards the end. Strauss's sense of play is left intact,
too, so that this Till acts as the logical link
between the Don and the Vienna-drenched Rosenkavalier Waltzes.
This Rosenkavalier Suite is Kempe's own mix; Strauss
made his own in 1911. It begins with the Act 1 Prelude
before melting into the Marschallin/Octavian love scene.
Baron Ochs' bawdy Act 2 waltz leads to the Act 3 scenes
of Octavian drilling his accomplices and on to the Mariandel/Ochs
supper before a Kempe-coda rounds the whole thing off.
Kempe invests a wonderful sense of Schwung into
his Dresdeners yet there are some lovely gossamer strings
too. Perhaps a touch more cheekiness on occasion would
be more in keeping with the work's ethos but there is no
denying the greatness of this performance. Finally, the
magnificent work that is Metamorphosen. In his booklet
notes, Strauss scholar Michael Kennedy debunks some myths
as to Strauss's intentions in this score. Kempe provides
a powerful experience in one of the faster performances
available. Barbirolli makes a full-blooded shelf companion
(New Philharmonia; EMI CDZ67816-2), but there is no denying
the value of Kempe's classic performances here.
Most Strauss lovers will already have these performances.
They have after all been reissued countless times. Lucky
is the person who encounter them the first time on this disc,
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