Strauss: Eine Alpensinfonie (An Alpine Symphony) ~ Haitink Hybrid SACD - DSD
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LSO Live is thrilled to welcome Bernard Haitink back for his first recording with the London Symphony Orchestra since their internationally acclaimed Beethoven cycle in 2006. In his massive Eine Alpensinfonie, Strauss recounts an attempt to conquer the summit of an Alpine mountain. He infuses the score with numerous instrumental colors and rich combinations of sounds, evoking the images and events that take place on the trek. It was to be one of his final large-scale orchestral works and shows the last great German Romantic composer at the pinnacle of his art.
EDITOR'S CHOICE - ''Another of those superb LSO Live recordings. The finest detail, colour and texture is apparent among the massed forces. This is a must-have demonstration-quality disc.'' --Gramophone Magazine
''While the splendour of the LSO's playing these days is no surprise, it's a remarkable phenomenon even so. Haitink's interpretation allows full scope for grand effects while keeping a tight rein on the works unfolding progress.'' --Classic FM Magazine
CD OF THE WEEK - ''Even among some of the finest and classic recordings this new one has something special about it. Haitink and the LSO offer us a reading that unfolds with an almost effortless logic.'' --BBC Radio 3 CD Review
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them in this reording of Richaqrd Strauss' Alpine Symphony, written in 1913 . It has been recieving more attentionrecently, for saome reaqson, I know not why. If it is because it is a fine work or that itis a sonic spectacular, perfectly fittted into the Super Sudido miondset. Actually, I think these a re all goos explainations fdor the music's appearance at this time. Thisa excellent performance from thew London Symphony under Bernard Haitink, is so chocked full of great and stirring moments, I simply won't enumerate them all, but just a few of them. But, first, this recording feature Super Audio sound that even through my headphones, on the veryt earrly Saturday morning, while mt wife isasleep. This is terrific because when I plug in my headphones, the connecntion to the speakers is cut, yes, butr alaso, as I toggle through the various listening channels offered by my newer Onkyo Reviever, I always wind up bvacck at regular stereoSO, RIGHT NOW, AS I listen to a super Audiod, Romanticism's "long, long soda sweeps us away with the breath taking splendor of an Aalpine sunrise, flowwing forth from track#1 into track#2, on ther fly. I instantly became a fan of both the LSO and Haitinklpine sunrise, flowwing from track #1 into track #2, the drums of the Lso add to the thrilling majesty of yet another day in God's glorious scenery.
Evben listening, as I am now, through regular Stereo, this SACD Haitink effort is gripping and real. We are there, and the presence of the various sections and individual instruments are so stunningly well captured, I became an instrant fan. Let me just try, quickly, to list some of the Highlights from this CD:As I said earlier, tracks1?2 with the "sunrise, " is a splendid passage, adorn with the powerful LSO percussiopn choir. Also, listen to the massed off stage brass in the track #3's "enterying the forest" episode, as this section features the LSO's French CHorns from a generous distance, They do need to belistened to with effort as they are really far off . Track #9 is our pasture scnene, complete with real cowbells, stipulated by the composer in the score, they have that same distant tone as they echo across the Alpine vallies with their peaceful and sunsplashed radiance. From tracks #12 on thru #14 we are in, what I like to call, the realm of the summit, and here the virtuosity and beauty of the Great LSO comes through most impressively. Just hear thse horns as they cry out in arcing splendor as the traveler reaches the summit, and ttakes the time to savor his accomplishment of having climbed this mountain. We heasar all the exhilaeration and "see" every glrious moment that he does and, not suprisingly, he is reluctant to desend from this noble perch.
Track #13 is the grandest of all the 22 individual stops along the way in this high country journey and the music in this 4:51 segement has an almost spiritual quality aboout it, at least it does for me, as my own experieances in Mountains always make me feel as if I had gotten as close to GHod as anyman could here on Earth. On a personal note, my wife, ZThelma, and I made our first of four successive trips to Glacier National Park, only about 6 hours drive, with a good lunch break and as we climbed on the "Going-to-the-Sun" highway, she said to me "God must really love us." This was her reaction as I nervously gripped the steering wheel on the long, winding switchback laden path to the summit at Logan Pass, 6757 feet above sea level. As we stiopped in a rodeside turnout, she had tears in her eyes at the majesty and closeness of the peaks, and her comment said it all. This music, listening ever so cloesly throu my phones is rich inthe sound Picture of the scene. This part, lasting nearly 5 full minutes captures the esssance of the Symphony and Haink's attention to detail is exquisite and couldn't be improved on one note. If I were a conductor, this is precisely how I would do it, not one jot more or less. It simply took my breath away, and will your's as well. I garuntee it!!
On the descent , the thunderstorm found in track #19, is preceeded by ther Eligie" and "calm before the storm" in tracks #17 and #18, and haitink presents his individual wind players as soloists rising with muyuch virtuosity from within the thick orshestral fabric. The rain that is approaching, is defines by toots from the flute and oboes and plucked strings, gradually increasing in tempo and volume as the rainclouds continue to come closer, a remarkable technique by the LSO Live engineers. I was filled with admiration and glee at these sounds, and had to stop typing and just listen for a few moments, then resume my examination. Theklma and I have never heard the Alpinsinfonie live, and woud like to some day, as seeing this music produced is almost s pleasent as hearing it live. The actrual storm, track #19, is a rollicking trip with thunderous percussion and terrified strings with shrill and panicky winds. hearing is velieveing hand this section is the best T-Storm in my collection of at least 4 Alpine Symphony recordings on my shelves. Haitink's final two tracks bring this alllpine trek to a symmetrical close with the sameeeeeeeee peaceful yet sowwhat dar music to the conclusion weeeee have been expecting for several minutes now, the solo trumpet in the earlt track 21 bids farewell to the slopes of "everyland."and as we depart this sacred ground, we are comforted by the promise of "seeing" her again. thelma and I did just that in 2006 thru 2009 with subsequint trips to Glacier, but the first one, AH, that was special. If you havn't been there, you owe it to yourself to go. Just be sure to bring Strauss almong on the vacation, and this one will do very niceley. A HIGH, HIGH recommendation and a 5 star rating. Much for the gorgeous interpretation by the great Haitink, and the simply fabulous LSO, but mistly for the presentation and engiuneering by the folks at "LSO Live." If it didn't recieve a Grammy, I want to know why!! In my book a Big Time Grammy!! As always, God blerss you all, my friends, Tony.
You do need a multi channel sacd player (preferably a very good one) to experience this. I would think every real music lover would have gone this route by now! If you love the sound of live music - how could you possibly not have? Stereo is only a pale imitation. This and hundreds (more than 3900 actually) of available multi-channel or surround sound hybrid SACDs from LSO Live, Chicago Resound, PentaTone, BIS, Chandos, Tudor and many others now make this marvel of technology possible in your listening room!
Someone above carped about the price. For the experience I get out of hearing the Alpine Symphony in this kind of sound - like 70 to 75% of what I would actually experience in the concert hall, this is real value for money spent! Stereo by comparison gives me about 20 to 25% of the live experience.
Too bad LSO Live, unlike PentaTones sourced from Polyhymnia, BIS, Tudor, Boston Symphony Classics, Chandos, dont give us a discrete center channel. I thought to withhold one star on this issue, not liking my MCH recordings to sound like old quad recordings - but the impact here, particularly the bass, is so spectacular that this center channel recessing problem not-with-standing, I relented and gave all five stars!
However, I must say PentaTone's recording of the Alpine Symphony with the fine orchestra in Pittsburgh, having a discrete center channel adds another 20% in my estimation, of getting closer to the "live" sound of a fine orchestra in a real concert hall. That one unfortunately did not have this organ in the hall. I have both recordings. I would hate to choose between them. I would never even consider a regular CD like the Naxos. Spoiled by splendid sound, that is me!
It is a piece I love and of which I have many recordings, headed by those conducted by Shipway, Karajan and Thielemann, so I have a firm idea of what I want to hear - and it is not as subtle as what Haitink gives us here. First, even the recorded sound is portly and bass-biased. Secondly, the LSO's sound is smoothly homogenised and soporific. Thirdly, I'd lost patience with Haitink by the first orchestral climax at sun-rise, which passes as quietly and blandly as a milk float. That sets the tone for the impeccably well-mannered performance which succeeds; everything is swathed in silk and sunk in soup.
Heavens knows, there are enough thrilling, life-enhancing recordings of this adventure story without our needing to settle for such mediocrity. Even Haitink's own earlier recording with the Concertgebouw is much better, if not the best.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Later this year I will have a large comparative review of half a dozen or more recordings of Richard Strauss' Alpine Symphony.Read more