Richard Strauss: Don Juan, Op 20; Ein Heldenleben, Op 40

Reviewed on Thu 26 Mar, 2015

An authoritative Don Juan to open, not the most dashing portrayal of the lothario but immediate testimony to the excellence and responsiveness of the playing and to the spacious, detailed and well-balanced recording (with an excellent bass line). Mariss Jansons is at his best in the slower seductive music (including a beautifully expressive oboe solo) and when the music reaches fervour. Much subtlety also informs this refined yet dynamic account. As to yet-another outing for the Hero, Jansons favours the long view as well as opulent but not obfuscated timbres. Vivid characterisation informs love, war and reminiscence. Anton Barachovsky’s violin solos (representing the Hero’s Companion, Richard Strauss’s soprano-wife to be) are silky-smooth and glow with coquettish and irascible temperament. The Battle sequence enjoys plenty of clash and weight (superb heavy brass) and then a real sense of triumph and final serenity. Glorious, but note the cheeky re-write at the end!
–Colin Anderson