Strauss: Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche; Ein Heldenleben; Don Quixote; Don Juan

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3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Strauss
LABELS: Teldec
WORKS: Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche; Ein Heldenleben; Don Quixote; Don Juan
PERFORMER: Chicago SO/Daniel Barenboim
CATALOGUE NO: 8573-82130-2 Reissue (1991)
The greatest competition that the Chicago orchestra faces in this repertoire comes from its earlier self under Fritz Reiner, and even though Barenboim receives a fuller and more detailed recording, allowing all the nuances of Strauss’s expert orchestration to come through, he doesn’t have Reiner’s laser precision. The opening of Heldenleben, which should electrify like a thoroughbred flying out of the trap, is tame in comparison, and the punctuating brass chords lack bite. Most successful is the more reflective music depicting the Hero’s Companion and final Fulfilment, and, in Don Juan, the love scene, though elsewhere the Don isn’t impetuous, just a man in a hurry. The cello solo in Don Quixote is taken (very beautifully) by the front-desk player, and it’s good to hear the integrated orchestral texture that Strauss intended, rather than a big solo number. The character of individual variations is strong – but Reiner is stronger. Martin Cotton

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