ESSENTIAL RECORDINGS
RICHARD STRAUSS - Eine Alpensinfonie

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RICHARD STRAUSS - Eine Alpensinfonie, Op. 64 - (An Alpine Symphony) - Frank Shipway (Conductor) - Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra - Hybrid SACD - 7318599919508 - Released: October 2012 - BIS SACD1950

Who would ever have thought that a sequence of simple intervals - a descending third, followed by a descending fourth and fifth, all off the same principal note - could evoke such strong emotions. They generally don't, but when given the Richard Strauss treatment of scoring them for horns, pitted against ascending strings, they create quite a powerful and uplifting effect. It's no wonder Strauss used that deceptively awe-inspiring motif at the climactic point of this tone poem, to represent the state of elation at reaching the summit after an arduous ascent and journey. In fact, the whole work is a masterpiece of orchestration and tone painting, ranging from the darkest night to sunlit meadows, and a depiction of a thunderstorm that will make you want to run for cover.

In this new recording, conductor Frank Shipway and the Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra take full advantage of this splendid score and capture the raw-grit-mixed-with-philosophical-loftiness essence of this work. And all of it captured in wonderful sound, where for once one can clearly hear the pipe organ, and the thunder and wind machines to full effect. Segments of this recording are unrivalled at this point. The thunderstorm section in particular is rendered even more effective by the stillness of the calm that precedes it. Very highly recommended!

Jean-Yves Duperron - November 2012