Pfitzner/Strauss

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5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Pfitzner/Strauss
LABELS: DG
WORKS: Preludes from Palestrina; Love Theme from Das Herz; Overture to Das Käthchen von Heilbronn; Prelude to Guntram; String Sextet from Capriccio; Love Scene from Feuersnot
PERFORMER: Orchestra of the Deutsche Oper Berlin/Christian Thielemann
CATALOGUE NO: 449 571-2
With his opera Palestrina staged at Covent Garden recently, Hans Pfitzner is very much flavour of the moment. Christian Thielemann, here making his recording debut with DG, has made his music something of a calling-card.

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Pfitzner may not be nearly as well-known as his contemporary and rival, Richard Strauss, but this splendid disc should go some way in showing that, despite his reputation as a founder of the Nazis’ cultural creed, his music has a value of its own. The preludes to Palestrina make an affecting trio: the ethereal first prelude is beautifully poised here, while the second is stunningly energetic and vivid and the last poignantly melancholic. The other two Pfitzner pieces – the warm ‘Love Theme’ from Das Herz and the wide-ranging, almost Straussian overture to Das Käthchen von Heilbronn are just as original and can rarely have been played with such beauty and control as here by the Deutsche Oper Orchestra.

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The same qualities are exhibited in the three Strauss pieces, interestingly pairing the preludes to his first and last operas, Guntram and Capriccio – the former perversely sounds the more ‘modern’, certainly in its harmonies and orchestration – with the Love Scene from his second opera, Feuersnot. Matthew Rye