Magazine article Gramophone

R Strauss * Varese

Magazine article Gramophone

R Strauss * Varese

Article excerpt

R Strauss Varese

R Strauss Ein Heldenleben, Op 40

Varese Ameriques

Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin / Ingo Metzmacher

Challenge Classics [F] CC72644 (71' * DDD)

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

First, Ein Heldenleben, remarkable primarily for the forward momentum of Ingo Metzmacher's performance, the overall excellence of the Deutsche Symphonie-Orchester's playing and the sympathetic violin characterisation of Wei Lu--a warm, complex and sometimes vulnerable 'companion' as opposed to the needy nag we so often hear. The sound quality is fabulous, too, with a wide dynamic range that etches a fearsome 'Hero at Battle', the percussion virtually in your lap. Controversial? Not in performance terms. But editorially, please note that this is the 'original' version of the score. Not an issue until 'The Hero's Retirement', where instead of the achingly beautiful harmonies that lead towards that clinching recall of Zarathustra--for me the work's expressive high point--there's major-key calm and a quiet ending. No hint of Also sprach in sight (or hearing). It'll take some getting used to, if you ever do get used to it (no reason why you should, given the impact of Strauss's final version) but I would strongly recommend you hear the performance simply because, as an interpretation, it works so well. …

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