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EINE ALPENSINFONIE,ROSENKA

Richard Strauss Audio CD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 22.27 & FREE Shipping on orders over CDN$ 25. Details
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1. Eine Alpensinfonie: Nacht
2. Eine Alpensinfonie: Sonnenaufgang
3. Eine Alpensinfonie: Der Anstieg
4. Eine Alpensinfonie: Eintritt in den Wald - Wanderung neben dem Bache
5. Eine Alpensinfonie: Am Wasserfall - Erscheinung
6. Eine Alpensinfonie: Auf blumigen Wiesen
7. Eine Alpensinfonie: Auf der Alm
8. Eine Alpensinfonie: Durch Dickicht und Gestrupp auf Irrwegen
9. Eine Alpensinfonie: Auf dem Gletscher
10. Eine Alpensinfonie: Gefahrvolle Augenblicke
11. Eine Alpensinfonie: Auf dem Gipfel
12. Eine Alpensinfonie: Vision
13. Eine Alpensinfonie: Nebel steigen auf - Die Sonne verdustert sich
14. Eine Alpensinfonie: Gewitter und Sturm, Abstieg
15. Eine Alpensinfonie: Sonnenuntergang
16. Eine Alpensinfonie: Ausklang
17. Eine Alpensinfonie: Nacht
18. Rosenkavalier Suite: Con moto agitato
19. Rosenkavalier Suite: Allegro molto
20. Rosenkavalier Suite: Tempo di Valse, assai comodo da primo
See all 22 tracks on this disc

Product Description

Amazon.ca

Strauss's Alpine Symphony, completed in 1915, is both a programmatic description of a mountain climb and a symphony in structure and thematic development. It represents a major challenge for conductors and the massive orchestral forces who must meld program and structure while giving full due to the pantheistic nature-worshiping subtext, and the wide emotional range, from a mysterious "Night" opening to the descent in a thunderstorm. That may be why it often fails to come off in performance, although old Strauss hands like Kempe, von Karajan, Solti, and Mehta have given the work its due, with the latter two aided by spectacular engineering. Thielemann doesn't match them in this live concert performance with a great Strauss orchestra, partly because of skewed balances and muffed details, but mainly because his sprawling interpretation neglects the work's structural elements. The Rosenkavalier Suite also suffers from a heavy hand at the helm, making it disjointed and episodic. Two-dimensional sonics don't help, either. --Dan Davis

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars A few shaky steps on the way up the mountain July 27 2003
Format:Audio CD
Christian Thielemann clearly believes in Richard Strauss' once-derided "Alpensinfonie," and you don't need to read the conductor's comments in the liner notes to grasp that he revels in Strauss' orchestration. It's in delineating the many strands of the orchestral texture that Thielemann excels here, aided considerably by a fired-up Vienna Philharmonic (the brasses in particular are outstanding--such as the raspy trombones which are noticeably repressed in the Herbert von Karajan recording).
Thielemann's enthusiasm sometimes gets the better of him, to the detriment of the work's structural integrity. Compared to Karajan or Rudolf Kempe, you're more aware listening to this CD that the piece moves from scene to scene. It isn't helped by his tendency to draw out the endings of phrases and sometimes slack off on the pace--effects which probably played better in concert than they do captured for posterity. However, the conductor's occasional missteps aren't enough to send the performance skidding back down the mountain.
What does threaten to jeopardize the expedition, though, is the recording job--a major consideration in a "blockbuster" work like this. The sense of scale and dynamic range are impressive, but there's a frustrating lack of "depth" and "presence" to the instruments. It's like listening to vividly detailed cardboard cutouts in a reverberant hall, instead of three-dimensional strings, brass, woodwinds and percussion. The Amazon "editorial review" for this release gets it just right when referring to the sonics as "two-dimensional." The third dimension, the sense of "you are there" realism, that you get from well-recorded CDs (such as Andre Previn's Telarc disc of this piece with the same orchestra in the same hall) is utterly lacking here.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great Performances of Richard Strauss' Music May 24 2002
By John Kwok TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Audio CD
Christian Thielemann has cemented his well deserved reputation as one of our finest interpreters of Richard Strauss' music in this splendid CD of Eine Alpensinfonie and the Rosenkavalier Suite. Both are exciting, brilliant performances, with the Rosenkavalier Suite performed as though these waltzes were composed by the Strauss family, not Richard Strauss. I doubt I have heard a more exciting performance of Eine Alpensinfonie; the only relatively recent recording which comes close is Sir Georg Solti's Decca recording with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra. I strongly commend Deutsche Grammophon's sound engineers for producing a recording that sounds as well balanced as any recorded in a studio. Surely fans of both Thielemann and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra will want to acquire this fine CD.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Inspired Sept. 12 2002
By A Customer
Format:Audio CD
Thielemann pulls off an inspired reading of this late romantic masterpiece. Needless to say, it helps having the Wiener Philarmoniker at one's disposal. Textures are generally thicker, with a palpable sense of mystery and atmosphere. The state-of-the-art sonics verge on the spectacular, with plenty of details unfolding naturally and effortlessly. Thielemann, as his customs, adopts the traditional German seating position, now rare among modern orchestras. This conductor has not always been successful in the standard repertoire, but he seems to be going from strenght to strenght.
As it stands, this is a prime recommendation.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great stuff June 11 2001
By "rajt"
Format:Audio CD
Thielemann and the VPO have really surpassed themselves this time. This is a live performance, recorded in the Musikverein's Grosser Saal in October 2000. Rarely have the strings of the VPO sounded so rich and each episode is clearly defined, though with a definite line.
The make-weight is a Suite from "Der Rosenkavalier", not the usual waltz suites, but something quite different and enjoyable.
Go out and get it.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars  9 reviews
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A sonic and interpretative feast April 19 2009
By Ralph Moore - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Well, responses to music are notoriously subjective but I am mystified by some of the criticisms I have read of this disc; if you were to trust them you would think that it is a sub-standard dud in almost every way. It seems to me that, for example, both the official Amazon.com reviewer Dan Davis and the BBC Music Magazine back in 2001 got it totally wrong. However, as is often the case, I am with trusted reviewers such as the Santa Fe listener on this one: it is a magnificent, newly thought-out, thrilling performance that elicited a host of encomiums from the Viennese music press who heard it live in October 2000. It has all of the advantages of a live performance when things "click" and virtually none of the attendant disadvantages; the audience are very well behaved and the recording engineers did a great job in bringing out the multiple layers of this vast work. Yes, if you compare it with studio recordings occasionally a line might be a little too recessed or an individual instrument submerged, but it strikes me as absurd to moan that the wind machine is sometimes inaudible or that the balance is artificial; it sounds to me like a faithful reproduction of the ambience in the Grosse Saal. All I know is that the disc sounds fabulous on my Bose, on speakers, or through Sennheiser headphones and I was bowled over by the virtuosity of the Vienna Philharmoniker (virtually flawless live; no re-takes or splicing here), the subtlety and grandeur of Thielemann's conception and the brilliance and immediacy of the sound. It goes straight to the top of my list of favourite recordings (alongside the BPO/Mehta and the Weimar Staatskapelle/Wit versions) - not just of this piece but of live recordings in general.

I assume that the criticisms of the "Rosenkavalier" suite here are the natural corollary to already having taken against Thielemann's interpretative style in Strauss; again, I loved the detail and flexibility of tempi in his account. He seems to me, in his use of rubato, to be daring to recapture a vanished style of conducting. Those who don't like it are free to seek out those many modern conductors who espouse the more mechanistic, homogenised and metronomic approach so widespread today.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very imaginative account, with an incomparable orchestra Sept. 22 2007
By Santa Fe Listener - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
I am usually not a great fan of Thielemann's soft-grained condcuting, but he scores a triumph here. Strauss's Alpine Sym. has traveled the long road from sneered-at hokum to a genuine orchestral blockbuster taken up by every virtuoso orchestra. To earn its keep, most conductors ignore musical values in favor of raw showmanship. but not Thielemann, who wants us to hear every bar as sincere nature poetry, just as we listen to Beethoven's Pastorale. It worked for me -- I actually felt something subtler than the wow factor. By reining in the bombastic rhetoric, he has done something quite special, and the Vienna Phil. continues to astound. I am especially grateful to DG's engineers for capturing the actual flavor of the VPO -- this CD is about as close to the real thing as I've ever experienced.
15 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A few shaky steps on the way up the mountain July 27 2003
By Paul Bubny - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Christian Thielemann clearly believes in Richard Strauss' once-derided "Alpensinfonie," and you don't need to read the conductor's comments in the liner notes to grasp that he revels in Strauss' orchestration. It's in delineating the many strands of the orchestral texture that Thielemann excels here, aided considerably by a fired-up Vienna Philharmonic (the brasses in particular are outstanding--such as the raspy trombones which are noticeably repressed in the Herbert von Karajan recording).
Thielemann's enthusiasm sometimes gets the better of him, to the detriment of the work's structural integrity. Compared to Karajan or Rudolf Kempe, you're more aware listening to this CD that the piece moves from scene to scene. It isn't helped by his tendency to draw out the endings of phrases and sometimes slack off on the pace--effects which probably played better in concert than they do captured for posterity. However, the conductor's occasional missteps aren't enough to send the performance skidding back down the mountain.
What does threaten to jeopardize the expedition, though, is the recording job--a major consideration in a "blockbuster" work like this. The sense of scale and dynamic range are impressive, but there's a frustrating lack of "depth" and "presence" to the instruments. It's like listening to vividly detailed cardboard cutouts in a reverberant hall, instead of three-dimensional strings, brass, woodwinds and percussion. The Amazon "editorial review" for this release gets it just right when referring to the sonics as "two-dimensional." The third dimension, the sense of "you are there" realism, that you get from well-recorded CDs (such as Andre Previn's Telarc disc of this piece with the same orchestra in the same hall) is utterly lacking here. Maybe the SACD version (which I haven't heard) imparts more presence, but in the standard CD format the spatial resolution is quite limited. Disappointing, coming from one of the world's major record labels.
Perhaps due to the misjudged engineering, a few of the details go awry: The distant "hunting horns" are TOO distant; the "cowbells" in the "mountain pasture" sequence don't sound at all natural; and the wind machine in the "thunderstorm and descent" is only sporadically audible.
Despite these technical slips (which may be less annoying to some), on the whole Thielemann ably takes us up the mountain and back down again, revealing features of the terrain we may not have been aware of before. Once we're back in the lowlands, Thielemann and Co. give us an equally idiomatic account of the 1945 "Rosenkavalier Suite" which was apparently assembled by the conductor Artur Rodzinski (with help, according to one story, from his assistant, Leonard Bernstein), rather than by the 80-year-old Strauss.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspired Sept. 12 2002
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Thielemann pulls off an inspired reading of this late romantic masterpiece. Needless to say, it helps having the Wiener Philarmoniker at one's disposal. Textures are generally thicker, with a palpable sense of mystery and atmosphere. The state-of-the-art sonics verge on the spectacular, with plenty of details unfolding naturally and effortlessly. Thielemann, as his customs, adopts the traditional German seating position, now rare among modern orchestras. This conductor has not always been successful in the standard repertoire, but he seems to be going from strenght to strenght.
As it stands, this is a prime recommendation.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An inspired conductor with the Vienna Phil is hard to resist, especially in Strauss May 8 2012
By Andrew R. Barnard - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
I'm going to join the company of reviewers who greet this disc with acclaim. I'm not sure if any other orchestra in the world is as suited for Richard Strauss as the Vienna Phil, the Berliners included. Strauss' music stretches the musician's technical limits, but with Vienna, it's easy to forget that there are any challenges to speak of. Of course the orchestra does much more than hit all the right notes. Words can't describe their ability to make the music become warm and vibrant, with such individuality that one feels he can reach out and touch it.

Christian Thielemann isn't lost in the sheer wealth of playing. He's full of insight himself, seeking for meaning in every bar. In the Alpine Symphony this means that every episode in the life of the country farmer comes alive with stunning clarity. We can enjoy the bliss of the flowery meadows, relish the gurgling waterfall, and quake at the power of the thunderstorm. DG's sound is beyond words, picking up the intricacies of Vienna's playing in a way that supersedes all my dreams. Thielemann has the ability to find the character of every moment while having a clear vision of the whole. The transition between movements is smooth, but instantly we realize that the scenery has changed. For me, such playing is self-recommending.

Everything is in place for the Rosenkavalier Suite. Effortless playing from Vienna dazzles us, causing everything to come to fruition. Thielemann finds the right balance between heroism and festivity. I'm not sure how anyone could possibly leave with unfulfilled expectations.

There's little need to argue in defense of musicians who lack nothing. Grab it as soon as you get a chance.
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