Strauss: Wind Concertos Import
TEL 398423913; TELEFUNKEN - GERMANIA; Classica Orchestrale per Oboe
This is an enchanting record. It presents several unfamiliar but beautiful works by Richard Strauss, and it showcases the principal wind players of the Chicago Symphony, who, not surprisingly, are fabulous. Moreover, they have the benefit of an equally fabulous backup band, and the hornist even gets to play a piece with the conductor, Daniel Barenboim, at the piano.
The program begins and ends with pieces Strauss wrote as a teenager, flanking two written late in his life. The former include an Andante for horn and piano--a love song reminiscent of Wagner--two dreamy, poetic piano pieces reminiscent of Liszt, and the popular first Horn Concerto, a bravura piece written for his horn-virtuoso father. Though Strauss was still finding his voice, this work no longer seems to lean on other composers and the orchestration is already masterful. The concerto is youthfully ardent and exuberant, its second movement very lyrical and a bit melancholy, the finale a brilliant hunting call. Like the other two, late concertos, it has three connected but strongly contrasting movements. The Duet-Concertino for clarinet and bassoon has an elusive quality, but the finale is delightful, the coda a Viennese waltz. The orchestration for strings and harp is rich and luscious, with several soloists who interact with the clarinet and bassoon.
The highlight is the Oboe Concerto. Serene and romantic, it has an ecstatic, gorgeous slow movement; a brilliant, florid, rhapsodic solo part full of inventive cadenzas; and rich orchestration for a small orchestra. The neglect of this work is inexplicable. Both late pieces are so haunted by echoes of all Strauss's earlier symphonic poems and operas as to invite a game of "Name That Tune's First Cousin!" --Edith Eisler
Seriously, I was expecting something that sounds like Richard Strauss, or at least, the Richard Strauss I have known and enjoyed for about 40 years. So I get to learn something new--I am not opposed. This sounds more like reworked Mozart than Richard Strauss, and I'm not a big Mozart fan, reworked or otherwise. (I like Mozart when he is heavy and serious, so as you see, I'm not a big Mozart fan.)
But I do very much appreciate the artistry involved, and I can also attest, the recording 'sounds' very well indeed.
This collection features five compositions, his Horn Concerto No. 1 in E flat major and a second horn piece, this a Andante for Horn and Piano. As Strauss' father was a renown horn player himself and young Richard was made to accompany him at home much on the piano, that these pieces were of special import to him.
Dale Clevenger provides the solo work here, done with richness of tone and gusto in phrasing. I become enchanted more with the Horn Concerto with each listening. A great opener to this strong CD.
Next comes my favorite piece, even though I am partial to oboe numbers. This delightful Duet-Concertino for Clarinet and Bassoon is magnificently rendered by Larry Combs and David McGill. It bubbles and percolates with brilliant exhanges between the two instruments. Seductive and subtle, with magnificent light string accompanyment, this truly has become my favorite piece.
The Oboe Concerto was inspired by a visiting American oboeist, John deLancie. Amazingly, deLancie of the Pittsburgh and Philadelphia Orchestras, only played this piece once, at Interlochen, Michigan with Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra. It is demanding for the oboeist, requiring 57 solid measures without rest. Strauss reputedly recommended a mechanical breathing device for this, however, contemporary oboeists insist on overcoming the breathing issue with circular breathing. Here Alex Klein proves his rating as one of tops in the world with a brilliant sinuous and lovely expression. The gentle Adante finish with its subdivision of beats results in a brilliant finish.
A lover and collector of such Concertos, I am delighted to have discovered this one which has captivated my listening and will yours.
The Horn concerto is brilliantly done by Clevenger. His sound rings brilliantly true with the spirit of the instrument. A radiant interpretation of this jubilant concerto.
Combs, McGill, and Barenboim also do excellent work on this CD; however these are the pieces that I listen to less. Nonetheless, their talent shines through and make for stunning performances.
This CD is a prime example of the wealth of talent that the CSO has. Truly a must own CD.