R. Strauss Orchestral & Vocal Works

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R. Strauss Orchestral & Vocal Works

  • Concerto for Oboe and Orchestra
  • Metamorphosen
  • (4) Letzte Lieder, '(4) Last Songs'

Three celebrated Karajan recordings of Strauss are brought together on CD at medium price here. In only one case would the performance be my first choice for the work concerned, and that is the Four Last Songs. In spite of strong challenges from far and wide, the singing of them by Gundula Janowitz has still not been surpassed for Straussian opulence and tenderness—I emphasize 'in my opinion', for people feel passionately about interpretation of this work!—and Karajan conducts a near-ideal account of the orchestral score. The Metamorphosen is too thickly-textured. His later DG recording (a Gramophone Award winner) is preferable, but Previn's recent Philips issue gets closer to the anguish at the heart of the music. Koch's playing of the Oboe Concerto is smooth and urbane, but keeps to the surface. Excellent value, nevertheless, in spite of reservations.'

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