recordings for this week’s concert

While I’m not a reviewer of recordings, I do have some recordings that I do especially like. This week’s program of works by Mozart and Richard Strauss is one of my favorite of this season, and so I want to share some of my favorite recordings of the week’s program with you.

A short and sweet list of my favorites, with links to purchase at arkivemusic.com (for physical cd’s), and at amazon.com (for mp3’s).

Strauss: Four Last Songs

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Felicity Lott, soprano; Neeme Järvi conducting the Scottish National Orchestra (Chandos 10075).

The recording that started it all for me. This particular album includes most of the other songs for soprano and orchestra in addition to the Four Last Songs. Highly recommended.

Strauss: Death & Transfiguration

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Herbert von Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic (DG 410892)

This is an incredible recording of both orchestral virtuosity and compelling musicality. Worth it for the searing recording of Metamorphosen alone, but having D&T as a coupling makes for a fabulous disc.

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If you’re interested in a Karajan/Berlin set of all the Strauss orchestral works, there is an excellent budget-priced set from DG that looks excellent at the price of $32.99 for five cd’s ($24.99 on Amazon).

Mozart: Serenade No. 9 in D major, K. 320

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Claudio Abaddo and the Berlin Philharmonic (Sony 48385)

A nice marrying of historical performance influences with modern instruments.

If you prefer a more historically-informed version on period instruments, then this looks like a good bet:

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Roger Norrington and the Stuttgardt Radio Symphony Orchestra (Hänssler Classic 93213)

strauss, mozart, posthorns, and end of life issues

Richard Strauss

I’m working on the program notes for the Oregon Symphony’s January 26-28, 2013 concerts, which will be a series you won’t want to miss. The first half is given to Mozart’s magnificent Serenade No. 9 in D major, K. 320 “The Posthorn”. Now, with a nickname like that, you’d expect there to be a virtual posthornpalooza going on. Not exactly. One of the trios of one of the minuets has some prominent passages for the postally-inclined horn and that’s it. Don’t fret, however, the piece is charming and beautiful, and even borders on the sublime on occasion. The second half of the concert contains two of my most favorite pieces in the entire repertoire, and they’re both by Richard Strauss. The first is his early tone poem Death and Transfiguration, Op. 25. It was a seminal work in my journey along the path towards becoming a professional musician, and so it has a huge sentimental attachment for me. Not only that, but I think it’s one of his strongest compositions just from a musical standpoint, and also one of his most vividly told musical narratives. Plus John Williams stole the transfiguration theme for use in his score to Superman. The last work on the program is Strauss’ Four Last Songs. The last pieces he ever completed, they are autumnal settings of poems depicting the close of life with great dignity, affection, and love. Something manages to get in my eye every time I listen to them – imagine the impact of hearing them in person!

Here are my picks for my favorite recordings of the works on the program – enjoy!