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Strauss: Also sprach Zarathustra, Mahler: Totenfeier - Jurowski

Strauss: Also sprach Zarathustra, Mahler: Totenfeier - Jurowski

PentaTone Classics  PTC 5186 597

Stereo/Multichannel Hybrid

Classical - Orchestral


Strauss: Also sprach Zarathustra
Mahler: Totenfeier, Sinfonisches Präludium für Orchester

Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin
Vladimir Jurowski (conductor)


Vladimir Jurowski and the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin excel in these new recordings of Richard Strauss’s electrifying Also Sprach Zarathustra and Mahler’s Totenfeier, to coincide with the Russian maestro taking up office as Chief Conductor and Artistic Director of the orchestra.

Strauss’s bold and passionate tone poem Also Sprach Zarathustra is a riveting work, famous for its startlingly atmospheric opening. With a thrilling and florid orchestral score, it’s a work which Jurowski observes “…launches the whole idea of 20th century music. Written in the 19th century, this is one of those pieces which announces the new century to come."

It is paired with Mahler’s no less gripping Totenfeier which is an early version of the first movement of his Symphony No 2 "Resurrection". "I find very interesting to compare [the two versions] …", writes Jurowski, “In many ways, the Totenfeier is less accomplished , but far more honest and genuine." Juxtaposing the Strauss and Mahler works in this way, Jurowski notes “Zarathustra is all about technical brilliance and accomplishment … in the Mahler the surfaces are much less polished, so there is much more aspiration to go into the depth of things."

Jurowski is one of today’s most sought-after conductors, widely praised for his adventurousness and incisive musicianship. He has made several critically acclaimed recordings for PENTATONE, including works by Shostakovich, Prokofiev and Tchaikovsky. For his recording with the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin of Schnittke’s Symphony No 3, BBC Music Magazine opined "Vladimir Jurowski … delivers an absolutely stunning account that vividly captures the work’s drama and emotional intensity.”

The Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin is one of the leading orchestras in Berlin. Under former artistic director and chief conductor Marek Janowski, it has made numerous classic recordings with us, including a critically acclaimed cycle of 10 Wagner operas.

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Comments (9)
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Comment by diw - August 6, 2017 (1 of 9)

I am hoping someone will be able to do a direct comparison with the Jarvi Zarathustra release.

Comment by John Broggio - August 12, 2017 (2 of 9)

I am planning to!

Comment by fausto kantiano - August 13, 2017 (3 of 9)

looking forward to this one. Finally, a regular modern-day DSD recording of Also sprach Z.

Comment by hiredfox - August 21, 2017 (4 of 9)

This one is outstanding and almost as good as von Karajan's epic performance from 40 years or so ago which is now available as an analogue - DSD transfer on Japanese Universal single-layer which will knock your socks off - if it it still in print. One really doubts vK's performance with the BPO can ever be bettered.

Desire. Hope. World Affairs - Brogli-Sacher


Of course the new association of Jaarvi with the NHK is producing sonic miracles in Japan and the two previous recent Strauss discs on Sony RCA have been excellent so never say never I suppose. Jurowski unlikely, he's good but not that good.

Comment by fausto kantiano - August 22, 2017 (5 of 9)

agree about the Karajan, and also that Jurowski is unlikely to better it, but still, I'm curious what the Pentatone team brings to the table.

A pity that the Dresden Staatskapelle keep the Luisi recording of ASZ in the vaults because of a dispute (quite silly, actually)

Comment by hiredfox - August 23, 2017 (6 of 9)

Oh absolutely, their recordings are amongst the very finest available. There will be surely no complaint about the technical aspects and the RSO are one of Germany's finest ensembles so it will boil down to Maestro Jurowski's interpretation of what comes after the first 22 bars! Keeping audience interest alive is the challenge is it not?

By the way the Brogli-Sacher recording has a wonderfully realistic acoustic which suits this piece very well. It also has applause at the end. Of course it has become impossible to forget the music's association with the old Stanley Kubrick film so a good acoustic can only reinforce the mystical quality of the piece.

Comment by fausto kantiano - September 8, 2017 (7 of 9)

video of Jurowski talking about recording the Zarathustra/Totenfeier for SACD: goo.gl/fjtEwx

Comment by diw - September 9, 2017 (8 of 9)

It is of interest that the Brogli-Sacher gets a rave review from the site reviewer but 3 out of 5 folks on the site do not recommend it.

Comment by William Hecht - September 11, 2017 (9 of 9)

The mixed response to the Brogli Sacher disc may be a matter of expectations about how the piece ought to sound. The Lubeck band is only about 65 strong, and in my view does perfectly well by the Honegger symphonies which I bought in the collected set rather than in their earlier iterations with interesting but non-essential couplings. I'm not so sure I'd pick them for Zarathustra, however. On the other hand I don't think the enormous National Youth Orchestra does the work any favors either: Holst: The Planets, Strauss: Also sprach Zarathustra - Gardner. Despite fabulous playing from the "kids" the recording is simply not clear enough to do justice to the orchestration. I'm looking forward to this new one (it's on the to be played pile but I haven't gotten to it yet).