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Richard Strauss: Complete Tone Poems

Richard Strauss: Complete Tone Poems

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While composers like Schumann and Brahms held fast to the classical concept of the symphony, it was composers of the New German School, such as Wagner and Liszt, who preferred the tone poem as a modern means of expression for orchestral music. It tries to convey non-musical topics, like legends, tales, myths, and sometimes novels, in musical terms: programme music in its best sense. Strauss’ boisterous self-confidence allowed him the conviction that a different ‘formula’ would enable him to roll out his musical imagination with inimitable style. His success in doing so has ensured the popularity of these works to the present day. The SWR Sinfonieorchester Baden-Baden and Freiburg under the baton of its former chief conductor François-Xavier Roth recorded all ten tone poems, as well as Strauss’ musical epitaph Metamorphosen, between 2012 and 2016. These recordings are now re-released as a collector’s item in an exquisite 5-album box set .


With music as wonderful as this, we are all liable to develop our personal favourites that we will always remain loyal to. But it is hard to imagine a conductor and orchestra who could bring greater commitment and sheer intensity to a collection such as this. As you can see from the dates above, the CDs were issued over a period of four years or so; but the standard of playing and direction is high from the first to the last; a tremendous achievement by all involved.

-- MusicWeb International

This superpowered set of Richard Strauss’s ‘Complete Tone Poems’ with the SWR Symphony Orchestra of Baden-Baden and Freiburg under François-Xavier Roth (recorded 2012-15) makes its mark right from the lunging first bars of Ein Heldenleben and carries through a series of performances that for drama, energy, and commitment, has few if any equals, certainly not in the post-Fritz Reiner era.

Just listen to the timps in Also sprach Zarathustra—the way they hurtle towards us at Sunrise—and Till Eulenspiegel, or Roth’s skill at holding Aus Italien together, his affectionate yet energetic handling of Symphonia domestica, the epic aural vistas of his Alpine Symphony and an account of Metamorphosen that because of Roth’s sense of urgency sounds swifter than it actually is.

The recordings are spacious, full-bodied and pretty aggressive (the brass especially) but do the music and its performers proud. This now surely has to be the top-rating digital set of Strauss’s tone poems. Tod und Verklärung, Don Juan, Macbeth, and Don Quixote, all superbly played, complete the deal.

-- Gramophone

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  • Release Specifications

    • Number of Discs: 5
    • Release Date:
    • Label: SWR Classic Music
    • UPC/Barcode: 747313942688
    • Item Number: SWR19426CD