Friday, September 30, 2016

Richard Strauss - Eine Alpensinfonie (Frank Shipway)


Composer: Richard Strauss
  • (01-22) Eine Alpensinfonie, Op. 64
  • (23) Symphonische Fantasie aus "Die Frau ohne Schatten"

Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra
Frank Shipway, conductor
Date: 2012
Label: BIS



PERFORMANCE: ***** / SOUND: *****

With the finest Alpine Symphony peaks occupied by Bernard Haitink’s Concertgebouw Orchestra (and LSO), Herbert von Karajan’s Berlin Philharmonic and Seiji Ozawa with the Vienna Philharmonic, it looked as if Frank Shipway and his Brazilians were less well equipped for scaling the Straussian heights. Not at all. The night opening is evocatively veiled, the mountain theme especially, and moves organically to its spiritual sunrise. Throughout there’s a natural sense of pace between vigorous clambering and spacious nature panoramas. Shipway moulds his strings to suit every situation, full of appropriate portamentos and swooning glissandos – the last, as the light dies, is especially fine – and pulling out the tonal stops as the Epilogue proudly masses. Clearly projected woodwind are capped by a lovely oboist who stammers amazement on the summit before a fierce but proud central climax. All this in a sound-picture which keeps just the right distance in a piece made for SACD spaciousness; it’s as fine as Andris Nelsons’s recent Birmingham ascent.

There are connections between this orchestral work and the opera Strauss was working on around the same time, the massive fairy-tale Die Frau ohne Schatten. In the composer’s own ‘symphonic fantasia’, though, there is nothing of the nightmarish darkness of the Alpine Symphony’s eerie pre-storm calm. Never mind; Shipway once again shapes the lyric interlude of Act I to perfection and makes the later torrents as noble as he can. I’d be very happy to hear more Strauss from this remarkable team.

-- David Nice, BBC Music Magazine

More reviews:


Richard Strauss (11 June 1864 – 8 September 1949) was a leading German composer of the late Romantic and early modern eras. He is known for his operas, lieder, tone poems and other orchestral works. Strauss was also a prominent conductor throughout Germany and Austria. Strauss was also a prominent conductor throughout Germany and Austria. Along with Gustav Mahler, Strauss represents the late flowering of German Romanticism after Richard Wagner, in which pioneering subtleties of orchestration are combined with an advanced harmonic style.


Frank Shipway (9 July 1935 – 6 August 2014) was a British conductor. He earned a scholarship to The Royal College of Music to study piano and later switched to conducting. He was further trained in conducting by John Barbirolli and helped by Herbert von Karajan. Shipway contributed to several classical music compilations. He also conducted four significant recorded performances that are highly regarded in the classical music community: Mahler's 5th, Shostakovich's 10th, Strauss' Alpine Symphony and Tchaikovsky's 5th.


FLAC, tracks
Links in comment


  1. Hello,

    Been wanting to listen to this recording for a long time as it was so well reviewed.

    Thank you for giving me the opportunity to listen to it.

    Really appreciate your generosity in sharing your music.


    Douglas (UK)

  2. Many thanks. An excellent performance and recording. It's a shame that Shipway managed to alienate so many people = resulting in so few recordings.

    1. It's nice to meet another Shipway's fan here. Be sure to check other Shipway's recordings on my blog (Shostakovich's 10th and Mahler's 5th).

  3. Thank you so much. I've heard much about Shipway's Mahler 5 too, can't wait to give his CDs a listen.