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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.
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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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Strauss: Ein Heldenleben & Vier letzte Lieder
In a very short time, Yannick Nézet-Séguin has become one of the most sought-after young conductors in the world, popular with orchestras and audiences alike. Recently named as Music Director Designate of the Philadelphia Orchestra, he succeeded Valery Gergiev as Music Director of the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra in 2008. He is also Chief Guest Conductor of the London Philharmonic Orchestra.
On this the second of four projected discs for BIS, the Rotterdam Philharmonic here perform two of Richard Strauss’ most popular works: The tone poem Ein Heldenleben (A Hero’s Life) has often been described as an autobiographical work. The six interwoven sections describe themes of hope, love and courage, with a scherzo that mocks the hero’s enemies and a final climax that sees the hero withdraw from the world fulfilled.
The Four Last Songs were the last works that Strauss composed before his death in 1949, and throughout the works, the pervading mood is one of death and transience. The Rotterdam Orchestra are here joined by Dorothea Röschmann, who has built a reputation on the opera stage as one of the most admired present interpreters of Mozart and of lieder.
“This suave and efficient Strauss disc shows why Yannick Nézet-Séguin has rocketed to the first division of the conducting league.” The Times, 2nd July 2011 ***
“the gossamer textures of the Hero's 'War and Peace'...work best here, the bassoon stylishly leading the superb Rotterdam woodwind. The final retirement is gilded by a glorious horn solo...[Roschmann's] fast vibrato is offset by luminosity and soaring beauty...there's always understanding of the text, and the sunset epilogue, well accompanied by the orchestra, is moving.” BBC Music Magazine, September 2011 ***/****
“The multiple ironies of Heldenleben are superbly caught, though the emotional kernel of his interpretation lies in a sexy account of the central love scene and his touchingly beautiful treatment of the finale. The orchestral sound is lean and sinewy...[Röschmann's] voice lacks a little of its former lustre, though you can hear every word – and hear it given meaning.” The Guardian, 11th August 2011 ****
“Dorothea Röschmann has a deliciously supple and textured soprano that finds glorious colours here” Classic FM Magazine, October 2011 ***
“Nézet-Séguin's portrait of the "Hero's adversaries" is piquant rather than ironically adversarial...[Four Last Songs are] gloriously sung by Dorothea Roschmann, who has a truly lovely voice, and is most sensitively accompanied...Even among many illustrious names, there is no finer recorded performance.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2011
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Bernard Haitink conducts Strauss & Webern
Recorded live at Symphony Center, December 4, 5, 6, 2008 (Strauss), and April 23-28 2009 (Webern)
20-page booklet with notes in English, French & German.
Hot on the heels of an Editor’s Choice for his Alpine Symphony, Bernard Haitink conducts the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, one of the world’s greatest Strauss ensembles, in Ein Heldenleben (A Hero's Life) whose US première it gave in 1900. The CSO pours out a lush interpretation of Richard Strauss’s large and complex tone poem in their newest live recording. Principal Conductor Bernard Haitink leads with restraint and allows the strings and woodwinds to sing. In the famous Battle Scene, the brass and percussion roar, while concertmaster Robert Chen paints his violin solos depicting Strauss’ wife, Pauline, with tender beauty. Webern’s early tone poem Im Sommerwind is indebted to Strauss’s rhapsodic romanticism and overflows with spacious melodies. A musical force in Chicago and around the world, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra is consistently hailed as one of the finest international orchestras.
“Haitink worked his customary miracles on behalf of Richard Strauss and the CSO gave him what it always gives him: superb and deeply felt playing… In Webern’s Im Sommerwind, Haitink asked for a refined beauty of sound and got it in abundance.” Chicago Tribune Concert Review
“The playing could not be subtler or more refined, with Haitink putting his distinctive stamp on the performances. The wonderful gradations of dynamic are meticulously controlled, with the strings in particular sounding glorious...A first-rate disc demonstrating the glory of orchestral music-making in the United States, a model for the rest of the world.” Gramophone Magazine, October 2010
“The way [Haitink] delineates Strauss's polyphony is very impressive, bringing out the counterpoints and subsidiary voices with nothing short of exemplary clarity. The orchestral sound is magnificent in SACD, quite stunning in the battle sequence...Haitink renders a performance of great dignity and tenderness [in the Webern]” BBC Music Magazine, October 2010 ****/*
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