Review by georgeflanagin August 26, 2007 (13 of 16 found this review helpful)
The Amazon review(er) said: "My reviews of the recordings of Fritz Reiner are starting to become monotonous; excellent sound and wonderful interpretation!" It helps to actually listen to the disc, I suppose. This is not Strauss's best music. The music is well played, enjoyable, but 100% interpretation free, "in one ear and out the other," and the recording is nothing special (good or bad). If you want to add these pieces to your vast collection of Zarathustras and The Dons, then this is a good disc to get, especially at the price.
Neither of these pieces of music is terribly deep, and I'm slightly astonished that Symphonia Domestica has been recorded so often. Like some of Mozart's early symphonies, these works might not get recorded very often at all had they not been created by the pen of someone otherwise well known. There is just not a lot here besides the usual tendency of Strauss to think his own life was pretty damn cool. Who else could have written "Ein Heldenleben"?
Strauss's gift for orchestration is apparent, and I found myself enjoying his way with the winds and brass in Op 60. In fact, both of these works are "equal opportunity" compositions for the orchestra, and I suspect orchestras like to play them. The CSO seems to! The orchestra is quite together, and the balance is good and natural between the innumerable soloists and the back benchers. The guys probably had fun doing this work, and then they went to the bar.
Even RCA Living Stereo has its bad days. The sound has many little problems that would not be a big deal were we not all possessed of such high expectations of Living Stereo, or if the sound were ameliorated by the adrenaline of something really great happening with great music. The 1924 Rachman Piano Concerto #2 and just about anything by Caruso, as examples of the phenomenon.
Here are some of the oddities:
- The big drum in the Entrance of Cleonte moves from the left to the right, and then back again. Someone please let me know if that theater effect is in the score, and if it is the other recordings I have don't follow the score.
- According to the liner notes, the piano in The Fencing Master was recorded in a bathroom in what is now Moldova (Just kidding)
- The brass sound (to the right) is generally excellent throughout, but the massed strings (to the left) get very congested, most notably in the Scherzo and the Cradle Song of the Op 53.
- There is virtually no front-to-back in the sound. Side-to-side is fine.
By the time it was over, I felt like I had a head cold.
Let's not dwell on it. You only need one recording of these pieces in your collection, and this one will do. Recommended for those who want a complete set of Strauss, and recommended for Amazon reviewers who believe Living Stereo, Reiner, and the CSO can do no wrong.
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