You know when you have an in-house Cleveland Orchestra package – it’s bigger! Distinctive yes but rather impractical, too, for filing purposes – and, so far, getting the disc returned to where it’s supposed to be, without damaging it, has eluded me!

Anyway, this Strauss is the fourth such Cleveland issue and follows http://www.colinscolumn.com/the-cleveland-orchestra-releases-franz-welser-most-conducting-prokofievs-second-symphony-yefim-bronfman-playing-schnittkes-concerto-for-piano-and-strings/, http://www.colinscolumn.com/the-cleveland-orchestra-franz-welser-most-conducts-schubert-krenek/, and http://www.colinscolumn.com/the-cleveland-orchestra-a-new-century-franz-welser-most-conducts/.

Bigger the whole may be in terms of design, but the playing-time of this latest release, forty-six minutes, might be thought stingy even though the presentation is generous and includes Strauss essays, one of them by Franz Welser-Möst, photos & illustrations, and Nikolaus Lenau’s Don Juan poem in German and English. Lenau’s Don in Strauss’s musical depiction as conducted by Welser-Most is sprightly, full of ardour, and seamlessly structured (some may prefer greater expanse in places and less concern with an indivisibility of episodes), if played with brilliance, detail and sensitivity (there’s an especially eloquent oboe solo), but although the timpani at 0:09 register they really need to have greater impact, as they do from Paavo Järvi in Tokyo, NHKSO on Sony.

Macbeth is very well done, dramatic, on the move, all over in sixteen minutes, yet Andris Nelsons with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra takes twenty and is just as successful in generating thrilling theatre, http://www.colinscolumn.com/richard-strauss-andris-nelsons-conducts-boston-symphony-and-leipzig-gewandhaus-orchestras-for-deutsche-grammophon/, and I think just shades things. Finally, Till Eulenspiegel, the standout here, Merry Pranks indeed, the score given with ebullience, relish, and vivid characterisation.

The recorded sound (September & October last year, Mandel Concert Hall, Severance Music Centre) is very good if a little shrill and ‘crowded’ in the loudest passages.

TCO0004 [SACD] joins an extensive Richard Strauss discography, especially for Don and Till. The next Cleveland release features music by George Walker.

https://www.clevelandorchestra.com/