Mengelberg Conducts Strauss: Ein Heldenleben / Don Juan (also includes Wagenaar: Cyrano de Bergerac Overture)
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Audio CD, April 21, 1998
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Wilhelm Mengelberg was one of the great conductors of the century and this 1928 Heldenleben is one of the great recordings of the century. There's a comprehensive mastery in this recording that made it an instant classic when it was first released and it continues to repay repeated hearings. Mengelberg's interpretive subtleties enliven what often seems just a pot-boiler; his sensitive rubatos and discreet portamentos make phrases come alive. The orchestra is perfection itself, and concertmaster Scipione Guidi's rapt violin solos are riveting. Mark Obert-Thorn's transfers make the recording sound as if it was made two decades later. The Concertgebouw items, from 1938 and 1942, are also compelling, with a fleet, vivacious Don Juan the main attraction. --Dan Davis
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