Magazine article Gramophone

R Strauss: Ein Heldenleben

Magazine article Gramophone

R Strauss: Ein Heldenleben

Article excerpt

R Strauss

Ein Heldenleben, Op 40. Metamorphosen

ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra / Cornelius Meister

Capricclo [F] C52O8 (69' * DDD)

Richard Strauss's Ein Heldenleben (1897-98) is known for its autobiography and the composer provided with it a titled narrative programme. The violin solo depicting Strauss's loving wife Pauline is charismatically played by Maighread McCrann, and is followed of course by the caricature depiction of the composer's adversaries, over whom he is finally victorious. The soaring horns on this performance from the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra move the narration onwards into 'The Hero's Works of Peace' (where Strauss looks back over his past musical successes), while 'The Hero's Retirement and Fulfilment' brings an apotheosis with a glorious closing theme for strings and a particularly well-taken horn solo before the final cadence.

This excellently recorded performance under Cornelius Meister is superbly played and spontaneous. It stands up well against its countless rivals, notably Karajan and the ardently sumptuous Berlin Philharmonic, which Richard Osborne described as 'lambent in its beauty'. Beecham with the RPO, also on Testament, is a model of its kind, a glorious performance, authoritative and marvellously played, while Jansons's equally magnificent Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra recording comes in a splendid SACD performance in which the sound appears entirely natural. …

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