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Strauss: Die Liebe der Danae / Windfuhr, et al

Album Summary

>Strauss, Richard : Die Liebe der Danae, Op. 83
Performers Conductor Ensemble Composer

Notes & Reviews:

"Ulrich Windfuhr, a name new to me, was the music director in Kiel where this recording was made - when the opera was revived there in 2003. He paces the work well, and he is a sensitive conductor who doesn't cover his singers. The orchestral sound is colorful and well-balanced." - Moses, American Record Guide

Penguin Guide
Where the account under Ulrich Windfuhr consistently scores is in the dramatic bite of the performance...Standing out from an excellent cast is the magnificent Jupiter of Franz Grundheber, weightily Wagnerian like a latter-day Wotan


the best performance of the greatest work
This immense orchestral-and-vocal three-movement symphonic opera is not just the peak of Strauss's music but the peak of all music, the culmination of Western classical music. It opens with a first act, or first movement, that constitutes the longest single structural arc, and highest ascent, in all of music, 44 minutes that build ever higher, and penetrate ever deeper, before settling the listener onto an unimaginably high and deep plane.

The second movement, Act Two, is a gorgeous 46-minute interlude, suspended somewhere above the clouds, not so mind-blowing and emotionally draining as Act One, but this is fine, because Act One is so intense that a listener really needs to decompress after it, before proceeding onto the even-more-etherial plane, and final ascent, of the 78-minute-long third movement.

The closing movement, Act Three, fuses the first two, and moves forward from there, beyond life, beyond what mortals can know or understand. At the end of this ascent out into space, only a long silence is appropriate. There is nothing to say, just a sort of spiritual shock, to come out of, from the experience of this seemingly eternal journey one has experienced.

Not only is this the best performance, but unlike the Krauss its dynamics aren't compressed, and so the effect is what the conductor wanted, and not what some engineer did.

As a result, this superbly conducted performance carries the listener along the huge structural arcs that Strauss built into this his greatest work, up the highest of peaks, and higher, into the stratosphere, and finally out into ethereal space, looking back upon our speck in the universe, and bidding it finally goodbye, with gratitude to Strauss, a spiritual guide into previously unimaginable reaches.

This symphonic opera is best listened to without paying attention to the words sung by singers, as simply a symphony for huge orchestra, with accompanying vocal soloists. No greater symphony exists, not even Bruckner's.

This orchestral/vocal symphony is wise, ecstatic, and transcendent, a goodbye to life, from a man whose inner world was not just indescribably beautiful but was remarkably independent from the tumultuous circumstances through which he lived. It cements Richard Strauss's status as the greatest of all composers, irrespective of his humble joke that he was the world's best second-rate opera composer -- a joke which the many foolish and insensitive musical commentators still take seriously.

This work, even more than Capriccio, Elektra, the Four Last Songs, the late second sinfonietta for winds, and his other sublime peaks, establishes Strauss's unsurpassed stature: the most essential of all composers.

We must therefore be grateful to cpo and Ulrich Windfuhr for finally introducing this work to the public in a way that's adequate to its immense challenges. Alone among the recorded performances of this work, Windfuhr manages to scale its peaks without crumbling exhausted or worn out by the ascent he is taking us on, up Strauss's Himalayan peaks; he alone has mastered this Mount Everest of the musical art.

After hearing this set, and being stunned by it, more and more with each successive hearing of it, I bought a second copy after around the 30th hearing of it, so that I'll still have this performance, even if the first copy wears out, or if this recording is tragically remaindered.
Submitted on 03/09/13 by Eric Zuesse 
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Works Details

>Strauss, Richard : Die Liebe der Danae, Op. 83
  • Performers: Hans Ahrens (Bass); Daniel Behle (Tenor); Susanne Bernhard; Robert Chafin (Tenor); Martin Fleitmann (Tenor); Franz Grundheber; Gro Kjellevold (Mezzo Soprano); Paul McNamara (Tenor); Simon Pauly (Baritone); Hans-Jurgen Schopflin (Voice); Manuela Uhl (Soprano); Cornelia Zach (Soprano)
  • Conductor: Ulrich Windfuhr
  • Ensemble: Kiel Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Notes: Konzertsaal Kieler Schloá (04/02/2003-04/11/2003)
  • Running Time: 2 min. 23 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Form: Opera/Operetta
  • Written: 1938-1940