The first release in Sir Andrew Davis’ Richard Strauss cycle for ABC Classics to celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the composer’s birth comprises a lovely balance of vocal & instrumental music with Four Last Songs sandwiched by two tone poems, Don Juan & Also sprach Zarathustra.
It features the Canadian soprano, Erin Wall, with Sir Andrew conducting the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra led by their concertmaster Dale Barltrop.
Don Juan is a lively brilliant work that tells the story of the verse-drama of the same name by Austro-Hungarian poet Nicolaus Lenau.
The melodic Four Last Songs is delivered in a controlled manner by Erin Wall. The piece enables us to appreciate her rich sumptuous tone & lyrical poise. Some believe that this piece, written by Strauss at the age of 84 & premiered posthumously, expressed his calm acceptance of the end of his life. However, others like Michael Kennedy who wrote a biography on Strauss, don’t believe that the work was conceived as Strauss’ farewell.
The third & last piece, Also sprach Zarathustra, is the longest work on the CD. It’s famous fanfare Introduction “Sunrise” was used in Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 film 2001 : A Space Odyssey. With this tone poem, Strauss reflects the philosophy in Friedrich Nietzsche’s book of the same name Zarathustra.
This disc certainly does Richard Strauss justice. The two tone poems lose little by comparison to the famous June 1950 recordings in “Clemens Krauss conducts Richard Strauss” that displayed astonishing depth & beauty. Detailed sleeve notes add to the value of this highly recommended CD.