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Panache and Authority

Orchestral music
by Richard Strauss -
reviewed by

'... highly recommended ...'

Richard Strauss: Symphonia domestica; Metamorphosen. Staatskapelle Weimar / Antoni Wit. © 2009 Naxos Rights International Ltd

Richard Strauss is enjoying something of a revival of late with several of his longer tone poems receiving extensive coverage in the music press as well as substantial new recordings being issued.

Naxos is definitely not the label to be left behind, and has recently issued this Symphonia Domestica as well as an interesting disc featuring three symphonic fragments (to be reviewed later in these pages).

Antoni Wit is not a conductor with which you would normally associate Richard Strauss but he turns out to be quite a pleasant surprise in every way with a Domestica that is extremely invigorating and interesting.

Listen -- Bewegt (Symphonia domestica)
(track 1, 0:03-1:03) © 2009 Naxos Rights International Ltd

The opening Bewegt is judiciously done, rather in the manner of Rudolf Kempe with the ensuing development into the Scherzo and the Wiegenlied also extremely intriguing. The final two movements are the most substantial and Wit conducts them with great panache and authority, bringing the symphony to a boisterous conclusion rather à la Karajan.

Listen -- Finale (Symphonia domestica)
(track 5, 12:07-13:47) © 2009 Naxos Rights International Ltd

Metamorphosen is another underrated work which deserves far greater currency than it usually receives. Wit's version is bleak and introspective although I marginally prefer Karajan's legendary account dating from post war Vienna on EMI which has a true sense of occasion which no one can really match.

Listen -- Metamorphosen
(track 6, 27:05-28:10) © 2009 Naxos Rights International Ltd

As always, Keith Anderson's notes are detailed and informative and the recording balance is serviceable although at times the sound does tend to be slightly cavernous. Otherwise this is a highly recommended issue for those who are looking for a good first introduction to these works.

Copyright © 21 November 2009 Gerald Fenech,
Gzira, Malta






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