Strauss: An Alpine Symphony; Der Rosenkavalier – Film Music

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COMPOSERS: Strauss
LABELS: EMI
WORKS: An Alpine Symphony; Der Rosenkavalier – Film Music
PERFORMER: Bavarian Staatskapelle, London Tivoli Theatre Orchestra/Richard Strauss
CATALOGUE NO: CDC 7 54610 2 ADD mono Reissue
From the Panavision, Technicolor splendours of Mariss Jansons’s version (free with the January issue) to the small, black and white screen of this 1941 Alpine Symphony requires a smaller leap of imagination than you might think — and if you care for the work, you should have both versions. Where Jansons was grand and opulent, Strauss lets the inspiration flow freely between the peaks of inspiration (the mountain vista from the summit and the sunset-glow epilogue) where you’re left in no doubt of the extra expressive intensity, the focused sheen of Bavarian strings at their most heartfelt. There’s also the counterpoint of babbling brook, thicket confusion and raging storm — nearly all of it clear and to the point in the last and best of the composer’s studio recordings.Strauss never recorded a note of Rosenkavalier with any of his best-loved singers, but these voiceless chunks for the 1926 silent film (reordered by EMI to follow the opera’s logic, not the screen mish-mash) show us how the key moments ought to move and breathe, emotion implicit between flexible lines. The same double bill has been around for some time on Koch, but EMI’s ‘Composers in Person’ instalment offers cleaner transfers from the 78s and better documentation/presentation, including a surprisingly positive appraisal from composer Colin Matthews. David Nice

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