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Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949)
Operatic Orchestral Music
Four Symphonic Interludes from Intermezzo [23:02]
Sextet (Prelude) from Capriccio [12:30]
Potpourri from Die schweigsame Frau [4:20]
Guntram, Op.25 – Prelude [12:09]
Symphonic Fantasy from Die Frau ohne Schatten [22:51]
Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra/Jeffrey Tate
rec. November 1991, January 1992; Concertgebouw de Doelen, Rotterdam
Full contents list at end of review
WARNER CLASSICS RED LINE 2564 636544 [76:57]
 
Beautifully recorded by EMI in late 1991 and early 1992, this 77 minute compilation of orchestral music from five of Strauss's operas has now been issued with minimal documentation on the super-bargain Warner Classics Red Line label.
 
It is perhaps a slightly random anthology but it spans a gamut of moods from the rumbustious "Potpourri" from "Die schweigsame Frau" to the drawing room elegance of the Sextet from "Capriccio". It has a kind of symmetrical, programming logic insofar as it is arranged such that the shortest, central piece of four minutes is book-ended by two pieces of twelve minutes and two of twenty-three minutes respectively.
 
Probably the least known work is the Prelude to Strauss's unsuccessful first opera Guntram; the influence of Lohengrin is very apparent and there are motifs and textures highly proleptic of Die Frau ohne Schatten; in fact the main theme starts identically to Barak's tender B flat - E flat - G paean to marital love. "Frosch" itself is here represented by the concluding "Symphonic Fantasy" from that opera, a version less exuberant than Erich Leinsdorf's own arrangement but there is no lack of plush velvet in the orchestral sound.
 
Indeed, all of the playing here is poised, aristocratic and beautifully transparent; Tate allows the individual instrumental strands of the often dense orchestration to emerge with the utmost clarity and the Rotterdam Philharmonic sounds like a major band.
 
For those who find Strauss in operatic mode to contain too many demanding or astringent passages, this selection represents him at his most melodic and indulgent. Having, as I write, only the evening before attended a superb performance of Die Frau ohne Schatten at Covent Garden, I find myself glad to be able to hear its most gorgeous melodies again so soon without having to concentrate over three hours.

Ralph Moore

Full Contents List
Four Symphonic Interludes from Intermezzo [23:02]
I. Reisfieber und Walzerszene: Lebhaft – Ewas ruhig – Etwas breit [9:01]
II. Träumerei am Kamin: Ruhig schwebend {8:10]
III. Am Spieltisch: Sehrgemächlich [3:25]
IV. Fröhlicher Beschluss: Sehr lebhaft und fröhlich [2:26]
 
Sextet (Prelude) from Capriccio [12:30]
Potpourri from Die schweigsame Frau [4:20]
Guntram, Op.25 – Prelude [12:09]
 
Symphonic Fantasy from Die Frau ohne Schatten [22:51]
Langsam [3:33]
(Langsam) – Sehr lebhaft [4:32]
Mäßig bewegt [2:27]
Mäßig bewegt [2:57]
Mäßig bewegt – Sehr bewegt – Sehr lebhaft [3:02]
Etwas feierlich beginnernd – Etwas breit – Viel ruhiger [6:20]