More of the music of Richard Strauss (1864 – 1949)
Richard Strauss Records We’ve Reviewed
This London Whiteback LP (CS 6663) is one of Mehta’s famous Royce Hall recordings from the early ’70s, here presented with Super Hot Stamper sound on both sides!
A++, perhaps a bit less, maybe A+ to A++ is more accurate but it’s either A++ or something very close to it.
The strings are rich and textured, especially considering this recording is a bit late for London. The sound starts heading south in the late ’60s and by the ’70s not many Londons have the sound we prize here at Better Records. Just play any Solti record from the ’70s to hear what I mean.
This one still has most of the analog magic we expect from London, with a wide, deep stage. The sound is lively, fairly transparent, but a bit dark.
Side two has a bit more top end extension, somewhat more resolution, while still retaining the bass and dynamics of side one. A slightly stronger side two, still about A++.
Wikipedia’s Entry for Sinfonia Domestica
In 1898, Strauss became the chief conductor of the Royal Court Opera in Berlin. It was at this point in his life that the composer took a keen interest in his own circumstances and turned his attention to his status and personal history. When he began composing the Symphonia Domestica, he intended it to be the sequel to Ein Heldenleben, the next installment of the autobiography of the now-successful artist. Of it, Strauss said “My next tone poem will represent a day in my family life. It will be partly lyrical, partly humorous – a triple fugue will bring together Papa, Mama and Baby.”
He worked on the piece during 1903, finishing it on New Year’s Eve, in Charlottenburg.
The piece is scored for piccolo, 3 flutes, 2 oboes, oboe d’amore, English horn, clarinet in D, 3 clarinets (1 & 2 in B?, 3 in A), bass clarinet in B?, 4 bassoons, contrabassoon, 4 saxophones (soprano in C, alto in F, baritone in F, bass in C), 8 horns in F, 4 trumpets in F and C, 3 trombones, tuba, timpani, tenor drum, bass drum, triangle, cymbals, antique cymbals, tambourine, glockenspiel, 2 harps, and strings.
Richard Strauss once claimed that he could translate anything into musical sounds, that he could take even the events of something so mundane as the process of eating — using one utensil and then another, sampling this dish and then that one — and craft a musical equivalent. He put his own claim to the test when composing the Sinfonia Domestica, Op. 53 of 1902-03; here is a tone poem (it is not strictly called such, but it is certainly not a real symphony either) whose subject is not a figure of legend, as in Don Juan, or the mysteries of Death and Transfiguration, or a portrait of the composer as hero, as in Ein Heldenleben, but rather a simple day in the life of a family man. The Sinfonia Domestica is a warm, tender, and often lightly humorous work, scored for a massive orchestra (Strauss even adds four saxophones to his orchestra). It received its world premiere all the way across the Atlantic Ocean during a 1904 festival of Strauss music in New York City.