Saturday, July 8, 2017

Hans Pfitzner; Richard Strauss - Operatic Orchestral Music (Christian Thielemann)


Composer: Hans Pfitzner; Richard Strauss
  1. Pfitzner - Palestrina, opera: Plelude to Act I
  2. Pfitzner - Palestrina, opera: Prelude to Act II
  3. Pfitzner - Palestrina, opera: Prelude to Act III
  4. Pfitzner - Das Herz (The Heart), opera, Op. 39: Love Theme
  5. Pfitzner - Das Käthchen von Heilbronn, incidental music, Op. 17: Overture (Op. 17a)
  6. Strauss - Guntram, opera, Op. 25: Prelude to Act I
  7. Strauss - Capriccio, opera, Op. 85: Prelude (String Sextet)
  8. Strauss - Feuersnot, opera, Op. 50: Love Scene

Orchester der Deutsche Oper Berlin
Christian Thielemann, conductor

Date: 1995
Label: Deutsche Grammophon



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

With his opera Palestrina staged at Covent Garden recently, Hans Pfitzner is very much flavour of the moment. Christian Thielemann, here making his recording debut with DG, has made his music something of a calling-card. Pfitzner may not be nearly as well-known as his contemporary and rival, Richard Strauss, but this splendid disc should go some way in showing that, despite his reputation as a founder of the Nazis’ cultural creed, his music has a value of its own. The preludes to Palestrina make an affecting trio: the ethereal first prelude is beautifully poised here, while the second is stunningly energetic and vivid and the last poignantly melancholic. The other two Pfitzner pieces – the warm ‘Love Theme’ from Das Herz and the wide-ranging, almost Straussian overture to Das Käthchen von Heilbronn are just as original and can rarely have been played with such beauty and control as here by the Deutsche Oper Orchestra. The same qualities are exhibited in the three Strauss pieces, interestingly pairing the preludes to his first and last operas, Guntram and Capriccio – the former perversely sounds the more ‘modern’, certainly in its harmonies and orchestration – with the Love Scene from his second opera, Feuersnot.

-- Matthew Rye, BBC Music Magazine

More reviews:


Hans Pfitzner (5 May 1869 – 22 May 1949) was a German composer and self-described anti-modernist. His best known work is the post-Romantic opera Palestrina, loosely based on the life of the sixteenth-century composer Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina. Pfitzner's music, including pieces in all the major genres except the symphonic poem, was respected by contemporaries such as Gustav Mahler and Richard Strauss. His works combine Romantic and Late Romantic elements with extended thematic development, atmospheric music drama, and the intimacy of chamber music. Pfitzner's students included musicians such as Otto Klemperer, Charles Münch and Carl Orff.


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, enjoying quasi-celebrity status as his compositions became standards of orchestral and operatic repertoire. Strauss made a large number of recordings, both of his own music as well as music by German and Austrian composers. 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.


Christian Thielemann (born 1 April 1959 in Berlin) is a German conductor. He studied viola and piano at the Hochschule für Musik in Berlin, took private lessons in composition and conducting with Heinrich Hollreiser, and working as Herbert von Karajan's assistant. Thielemann was principal conductor and music director of the Munich Philharmonic (2004-2011), and is currently Chief Conductor of the Staatskapelle Dresden (since 2012). Thielemann is a regular conductor at the Bayreuth Festival, and since 2015, its music director. He has recorded extensively since 1992 for several labels, especially Deutsche Grammophon, and also participated in TV and film productions.


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