Sir Andrew Davis, conductor
Melbourne Symphony Orchestra
Strauss: An Alpine Symphony; Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks
The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and their Chief Conductor Sir Andrew Davis continue their acclaimed survey of the orchestral music of Richard Strauss with two contrasting, characterful and ambitious works.
An Alpine Symphony is a work of monumental proportions. Depicting the ascent of an Alpine mountainside, from scenes of pastoral beauty to an enormous storm, it calls for over 120 players and lasts over 50 minutes. It was famously the first-ever work to be pressed onto a compact disc, in a recording by Herbert von Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic.
In reviews of the live concert performances from which this recording is taken, The Australian wrote that "the Strauss rose with organic fury under Davis's baton, Night's opening rumblings kept as jittery, primordial whispers and so heightening the triumphant burst of Sunrise. The 22 movements trace the journey of an alpine ascent and descent, with dramatic changes of scenery and climate along the way, various perils for the expedition team, and the humility-inducing grandeur of the view from the summit.
A narrative of a very different kind is found in Till Eulenspiegel's Merry Pranks, this time the misadventures of a German peasant: disrupting a market, chasing girls, mocking professors - and, ultimately, being hanged for his misdemeanours. This work finds the MSO's musicians at their most virtuosic, with many of the players called on to depict the vivid characters we encounter in the story.