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Ingo Metzmacher conducts R. Strauss & Varèse
Contrasting symphonic poems by two apparently distant composers writing at the turn of the 20th century are featured on this Challenge Classics disc. Both works, Richard Strauss’ Ein Heldenleben and Edgard Varèse’s Amériques, are big orchestral showpieces which are recorded here in their rarely-performed original versions. Ingo Metzmacher, an authority on hidden links in music history and renowned for his innovative music programming, conducts the Deutches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin.
Richard Strauss completed his Symphonic Poem Ein Heldenleben (A Hero’s Life) in 1898. It was his sixth work of this type, and exceeded all of its predecessors in its orchestral demands. Despite contradictory statements on the matter by the composer himself, it is generally agreed to be autobiographical in tone: the hero of the piece is clearly the composer himself. The work contains more than thirty quotations from Strauss’s earlier works.
In 1910 Edgard Varèse met Strauss in Berlin, eleven years after the premiere of Ein Heldenleben - a work that is known to have made a profound impression on the young French-born composer. Like Heldenleben, Varèse’s Amériques is also a symphonic poem, and appears to show the influence of the thematic layering of Strauss’ piece and his incorporation of imposing percussive elements. It was composed between 1918 and 1922 and is the earliest work we know by Varèse. What seemed quite revolutionary at the time of its first performance was the bridge set up by Varèse from traditional musical language to the world of noises, particularly those of the big city.
For more than 67 years the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin has distinguished itself as one of Germany's leading orchestras. The number of its renowned music directors, the scope and variety of its work, and its particular emphasis on modern and contemporary music makes the ensemble unique. Founded as the RIAS Symphony Orchestra in 1946, it was renamed the Radio Symphony Orchestra Berlin in 1956 and has borne its current name since 1993.
“This excellent new release offers stunning, twenty four carat gold versions of Ein Heldenleben and Amériques...The massive orchestra with the extended wind and brass sections that Strauss requires for his imaginary hero is bonded together with unwavering assurance. This vibrantly colourful score, crammed with incident, has the Hanover-born Metzmacher revealing an astonishing amount of otherwise rarely perceptible orchestral detail.” MusicWeb International, 20th October 2014
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R. Strauss: Ein Heldenleben
This is the very first recording from the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and its new music director, Manfred Honeck.
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Mariss Jansons conducts Beethoven & Strauss
Live from The Philharmonie Im Gasteig, Munich, 2011
Beethoven wrote his Piano Concerto No. 3 around 1800, at a time in which the ambitious composer had created his first important works in Vienna, such as the “Pathétique” Sonata and the “Moonlight” Sonata – personal works full of power and passion, with which he distanced himself from his mentor and model, Haydn. This performance of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3 with the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks under the direction of its principal conductor Mariss Jansons stars the distinguished pianist Mitsuko Uchida, who is known the world over for her outstanding interpretations of the piano works of Schubert, Mozart and Beethoven, as well as of 20th-century masters such as Schoenberg, Berg, Webern and Boulez.
Richard Strauss wrote his tone poem for large orchestra Ein Heldenleben (A Hero’s Life) in 1898, shortly before he left Munich for the Berlin Court Opera, where he was appointed house conductor. In the imaginary hero whose eventful life is described in the work, the young Strauss apparently envisioned the freelance artist of his time, who was exposed to considerable hostility during the Wilhelminian era, just as Strauss himself in his early Munich period.
Picture Format: 16:9, 1080i FULL HD
Running Time: 90 mins
Blu-ray Disc: 25 GB (Single Layer)
Region Code: Worldwide
“[Uchida's] firmness and clarity of articulation [are] ideal, every phrase beautifully shaped as well as placed carefully within the larger context of each movement as a whole...Jansons is inclined, perhaps, to underplay slightly the more outrageous aspects of Strauss's hyper-lavish scoring...but the stability and expansiveness of the sonic fabric he draws from his players more than makes up for it.” BBC Music Magazine, August 2013 *****
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Richard Strauss, Vol. 1 (1947)
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