Strauss: Also sprach Zarathustra; Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche; Tod und Verklärung

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COMPOSERS: Strauss
LABELS: Decca Eclipse
WORKS: Also sprach Zarathustra; Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche; Tod und Verklärung
PERFORMER: Cleveland Orchestra/Vladimir Ashkenazy
CATALOGUE NO: 448 224-2 DDD (1989/90)
‘Classic’ Decca soundstages nearly thirty years apart present two Zarathustras just missing the sensuous ease at the work’s core. Karajan’s sunrise (Kubrick’s choice for 2001) bursts into glorious Technicolor at the third trumpet summons, though the post-synched organ whines and sound-levels lack consistency. Yet the reach-out-and-touch silkiness of the strings is a wonder, and the big moments sound generous compared to Ashkenazy’s stabs and punches; his Transfiguration, too, never suggests the Other Side after some atmospheric dying moments. The two ‘Tills’ are plausibly different – Karajan’s full of spite and malice, Ashkenazy’s keenly good-humoured (with an excellent D clarinet). Salome’s Dance certainly coruscates, though what are those squeaks as another veil falls – mice at the microphone? David Nice

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