Strauss: Alpine Symphony / Andris Nelsons, City Of Birmingham Symphony

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With his Alpine Symphony, Richard Strauss all but invited us to see it as a veritable "summit" in the genre of programme music. It is masterly in its layer upon layer of orchestration (not unlike a mountain massif), while it's harmonic and motivic riches offer a sublime acoustic panorama that is gigantic in scope. It is as if the composer has here exhausted the possibilities of the genre. But what if one were to explain this grandiose music aside from Strauss's own programme, and divorced from his own biography? This is the approach taken by the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra under its music director Andris Nelsons. They have already released a highly praised Strauss disc on Orfeo with Ein Heldenleben and the Rosenkavalier Suite, and Nelsons understands how to convey his fascination with Strauss to both the orchestra and his listeners with utter conviction. Musical intoxication is transformed by Nelsons into a flush of freedom - freedom for all, but of the artist in particular. There are naturally also moments of solitude and reflection - as when, for example, Strauss makes thematic allusions to Also sprach Zarathustra (at the "summit" of the Alpine Symphony). Then there is the sense of calm exuded towards the end of the Symphony that is subtly savoured to the full after the storms that marked the descent. Strauss was not just concerned with personal liberty, but was also capable of enthusiastic liberality - as in his opera Salome, which caused such a scandal at the time of its world première. This is made clearly audible in the brilliant encore that the CBSO and Nelsons offer here, namely the "Dance of the Seven Veils". We rarely hear it so finely tuned and with such unerring accuracy in its orchestral colours and rhythmic density, not to mention the climaxes and shifts in tempi. This "classic" of the early 20th century could hardly be played in a fresher, more contemporary manner.



Product Description:


  • Catalog Number: ORF-C833111


  • UPC: 4011790833125


  • Label: Orfeo


  • Composer: Richard Strauss


  • Conductor: Andris Nelsons


  • Orchestra/Ensemble: City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra