Richard Strauss: Macbeth, Op 23; Don Juan, Op 20; Tod und Verklärung, Op 24; Festmarsch in C major

Reviewed on Mon 09 Jul, 2018

Kirill Karabits presides over a set of Strauss performances that are lucid, watchful and judiciously paced, boasting plenty of well-scrubbed detail from the low winds and strings in particular.

I've enjoyed my previous encounters on CD with the Staatskapelle Weimar, notably a highly involving live account of the Elgar Violin Concerto for Berlin Classics with the Toronto-born virtuoso Catherine Manoukian and her husband Stefan Solyom at the helm. On this finely engineered Audite release the orchestra's current principal conductor, Kirill Karabits, presides over a set of Strauss performances that are lucid, watchful and judiciously paced, boasting plenty of well-scrubbed detail from the low winds and strings in particular. Competition is fierce, of course, and there's no escaping the fact that Karabits's band, for all the keen enthusiasm, sure-footed composure and undoubted sensitivity on show, can't quite match the tonal heft and sheer allure of, say, Karajan's Berliners, Reiner's Chicago Symphony, Kempe's Staatskapelle Dresden or Haitink's Royal Concertgebouw in this glorious repertoire. The less said, too, about the empty Festmarsch the better. No matter, there's much that will give lasting pleasure here (the underrated Macbeth receives especially spontaneous, eloquent and communicative advocacy) and the disc as whole strikes me as very well worth hearing; certainly, admirers of this gifted Ukrainian maestro will want to check it out.
–Andrew Achenbach