Strauss: Also sprach Zarathustra; Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche; Don Juan; Dance of the Seven Veils from Salome

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COMPOSERS: Strauss
LABELS: Decca Legends
WORKS: Also sprach Zarathustra; Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche; Don Juan; Dance of the Seven Veils from Salome
PERFORMER: Vienna PO/Herbert von Karajan
CATALOGUE NO: 466 388-2 ADD Reissue (1959, 1960)
‘Classic Sound’, as Decca’s last nostalgic reincarnation of these interpretations had it, is closer to the mark than ‘Legendary Performances’, as they’re now presented. Certainly there are problems: the organ that had to be superimposed for the beginning of the 1959 Zarathustra shrilly refuses to mesh or pitch perfectly with the orchestra, while the sound level can be inconsistent and the many edits often take the wind out of the VPO’s collective sails. In any case, the strings, although they sound good enough to eat, never quite soar; this is a Zarathustra that revels less in the kind of billowing incandescence you find with a Haitink than in graphic howls, chuckles and last whispers. Anger is the strongest quality of Karajan’s Till, Juan and Salome, too, recorded a year later; here the vivid Culshaw-produced recording, with full-throated horns gilding the borders, really comes into its own. David Nice

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