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Strauss: Tod und Verklärung, Don Juan

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Sensational Strauss, Reasonable Wagner June 29 2014
By Michael Brad Richman - Published on
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Listening to (and reviewing) all of my Clemens Krauss Strauss Testament titles a few months back, inspired me to take some other Strauss CDs in my collection for a spin recently. Of course, I couldn't resist the opportunity to compare/contrast the Krauss with this disc by Hans Knappertsbusch -- same original label in Decca, same reissue label, and in at least one case, same exact piece, "Don Juan." The big advantage for the Knappertsbusch Strauss recordings are Decca's brilliant early stereo sound. Strauss is one of those composers best heard with the full hi-fi treatment, and these performance really deliver, especially "Tod und Verklarung." The Wagner on the other hand suffers from its 1951 mono sound. I generally like Decca's mono recordings -- see my reviews of various Ansermet or Van Beinum titles -- but their engineer's signature separation techniques are not as prominent here, and as a result all of the triumphant climaxes are lost in distortion. Only the "Rienzi" Overture and some selections from "Parsifal" are included here, but I am reluctant to buy the more expansive recent two-disc Eloquence reissue, Hans Knappertsbusch Conducts Wagner, due to fears that it just won't sound that good. Overall, these are great performances from a master conductor, but sadly only half of them are in first rate sound.