Strauss: Don Juan/Aus Italien/Don Quixote | CD review

Dresden Staatskapelle/Luisi
(Sony, 2 CDs)

Italian conductor Fabio Luisi caused something of a stir last month when he quit his job as principal conductor of the Dresden Staatskapelle after a row with the orchestra's management. Artistic differences were cited as the reason for his departure: Luisi claimed that the orchestra had negotiated a deal with the broadcaster ZDF without consulting him. All this is rather sad, since the little we have heard of his work with the Staatskapelle has given no indication of tension. And we might also wonder what will happen to his Strauss series for Sony, of which this is the third instalment. There's a bit of cheating going on here, since the Don Quixote is actually a reissue of a good-but-not-great 2004 performance, recorded before Luisi's tenure. The Don Juan and Aus Italien are new, however, and the former, in particular, ranks among the finest available versions of the work. Slower than some performances, it's beautifully refined, phenomenally played and very erotic. Aus Italien is comparably gorgeous, though the piece itself – Strauss's major foray into programme music – is uneven. Whether any more of the cycle was recorded, and if so, whether it will ever see the light of day, are questions that remain unanswered.


Tim Ashley

The GuardianTramp

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