Technically speaking, Eine Alpensinfonie (= An Alpine Symphony) is not a symphony. For after 1911, Richard Strauss rejected his original plan to write a four-movement symphony based on the theme of a Tragedy of an Artist, and instead sat down to write a one-movement symphonic poem. He concentrated on the part he had first designated as the opening movement of the symphony and in which he provided a programmatic description of “the Alps”. The first sketches were made in 1911; in 1913 the work existed in the form of a partichelo (= reduced score); and two years later, the full score was completed. Some scholars have interpreted the prolonged period of time spent by Strauss in the composition of the Alpine Symphony, with very little progress at times, as “an indication that he had exhausted his capacity to portray instrumental programme music” (Wagner). The work was lacking a “truly significant musical core thought”, which was apparent for instance from the enormously expanded length of the Alpensinfonie (not only is this Strauss’ last, but also his longest tone poem, with an average duration of about 60 minutes), as well as from its relinquishment of certain categories employed in other symphonic poems, such as humour, irony and persiflage.
Total time: 01:09:01
|Original Recording Format|
Mark Donahue, Dirk Sobotka
Heinz Hall, Pittsburgh
|Recording Type & Bit Rate||
|Release Date||July 7, 2015|
Marek Janowski’s stirring performance of Richard Strauss’ An Alpine Symphony gives the impression of a challenging and dangerous undertaking. The sound Janowski conjures from the Pittsburgh Symphony (especially the low brass) suggests the mountain’s craggy massiveness, while the instrumental detail allows us to revel in Strauss’ imaginative scoring. There’s energy aplenty in Janowski’s pacing–listen to the confident thrust of The Ascent. On the Glacier generates real tension, while the Summit basks in sunlit euphoria. Janowski whips up a terrific Storm and has the Pittsburgh strings soaring ecstatically in Sunset.
Janowski leads a powerful performance of Strauss’ early tone poem Macbeth, again featuring exquisite orchestral playing by the Pittsburghers. The recording is demonstration-class, spacious with vivid detail and a rich, solid low-end. Highly recommended.
Artistic Quality: 9/10, Sound Quality: 10/10
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