R Strauss: Symphonla Domestica

By Shirley, Hugo | Gramophone, August 2015 | Go to article overview

R Strauss: Symphonla Domestica


Shirley, Hugo, Gramophone


R Strauss

Symphonla domestica, Op 53.

Die Tageszelten, Op 76 (a)

Berlin Radio (a) Chorus and Symphony Orchestra / Marek Janowski

Pentatone (F) [DVD] PTC5186 507

(68' * DDD/DSD * T/t)

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

It's taken nearly a decade for Pentatone to release a follow-up to its first Strauss disc with Marek Janowski, a coupling of sensible, clear-sighted performances of Macbeth and Eine Alpensinfonie with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. Here Janowski brings similar virtues to the Symphonia domestica, which still lags some way behind its Alpine cousin in terms of popularity. Overblown and indiscreet are the standard charges against this musical slice of life (and have been for over a century now), the former levelled against the musical means, the latter against the programme.

Intelligent listeners now know to take Straussian programmes cum grano sails, however, seeking out the philosophical truth found beneath. A performance such as this, meanwhile, presents the piece as anything but excessive. And therein lie both its strength and its weakness. There is remarkable clarity to it, helped by Pentatone's clean if somewhat soft-edged engineering, and Janowski paces everything expertly, never losing sight of the important milestones. The moments of hustle and bustle are wonderfully easy-going, while the Berlin RSO's corporate virtuosity is often breathtaking -1 can't remember when I last heard the finale's final couple of minutes, from the outrageous whooping horns to the finish line, raided through with such apparently nonchalant ease. …

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