Richard Strauss: Eine Alpensinfonie, Op 64; Vier symphonische Zwischenspiele aus 'Intermezzo', Op 72

Reviewed on Thu 31 Jul, 2014

I am still under the influence of Lorin Maazel’s remarkable conducting of Strauss’s Alpine Symphony (20 March in the Royal Festival Hall, London, and broadcast on BBC Radio 3), and also in shock regarding the Maestro’s recent death (on 13 July). He took 67 minutes on that occasion – the average is 50 – and was not a second too long. Franz Welser-Möst makes the ascent and descent in 46 – Solti territory – but, like Maazel, he makes this awesome and extravagant masterpiece his own, music that was Strauss’s farewell to the symphonic poem, completed in 1915, World War I already underway. It’s such a great piece – of invention, scoring and scenic wonder. Welser-Möst secures a refined, flexible, detailed and powerful account of it, enjoying typically superb playing and recorded sound from Bavarian Radio. The symphonic interludes from Strauss’s 'bourgeois comedy' Intermezzo (1924) are of tumbling vitality – waltzes, dreams and pastiche, brilliantly delivered here.
–Colin Anderson