I am a lucky boy – my two favourite Richard Strauss pieces on the same disc as Vasily Petrenko and the Oslo Philharmonic continue their Strauss series for Lawo. Preferring to die before climbing a mountain (a resurrection) I started with the placed-last Death & Transfiguration; and, anyway, it was the first-composed. It is launched here with the atmosphere of Last Rites, a dying person in a curtains-pulled room hovering Between Two Worlds, railing against Death (the Darkening of the Light), heavy-hearted at leaving this Earth, struggling to remain on it, waning to bittersweet reminiscences, until final release into who knows where, if musically glorious in itself. Petrenko’s is a vivid realisation of these various states, the Oslo Phil responsive to the moods and their swings.

As it is to Strauss’s final orchestral work, even so composed with three decades-plus of song and opera ahead of him. An Alpine Symphony has been likened to a birth-to-death piece, a metaphor for Life. I wouldn’t disagree. Petrenko’s reading at fifty-two minutes is a little more time-taken than the average (no-one though will beat Lorin Maazel’s sixty-seven at a London concert in March 2014, when every second was justified and made deeply compelling; to be there was mesmerising). If Petrenko is more scenic than probing, with the Oslo Phil in top form and sound-quality that marries natural space (not least for the off-stage horns, Strauss so extravagant), clarity and a wide dynamic range, this is a recommendable version in terms of atmosphere and suggestion, not least the climber being intimidated by the height to be conquered, making the arrival at the Summit all the more significant. Downwards, the Storm is of elemental vibrancy and later eloquences are not glossed over. If not quite the equal of Kempe’s Dresden version, Previn’s two (Philadelphia/Vienna) or Jurowski’s recent LPO account, I am nevertheless pleased to have Petrenko’s considered view of and from the mountain. Peak listening on Lawo Classics LWC1192.

Petrenko/Strauss Vol.1: http://www.classicalsource.com/db_control/db_cd_review.php?id=16382

Maazel: http://www.classicalsource.com/db_control/db_concert_review.php?id=11845