Botstein & the ASO Perform Strauss's Choral Works

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Ralph
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Botstein & the ASO Perform Strauss's Choral Works

Post by Ralph » Sun Apr 17, 2005 5:44 pm

No doubt about it - Richard Strauss tried his hand at virtually every musical genre. Some find his output uneven but that he was a genius has never been in doubt for me.

As the last subscription concert of the season, Leon Botstein and the American Symphony Orchestra performed a number of choral works by Strauss in Avery Fisher Hall this afternoon. The hall was fairly full, a testament to Botstein's innovative one-off programming (on a splendid spring day) insuring that virtually always you'll hear most of the works performed for the first and last time live. Today was no exception.

With the excellent Concert Chorale of New York, the ASO delivered six choral works. The first, 1934's "Olympische Hymne," wasn't commissioned by the Nazis for the '36 Olympics but it started the event with Hitler in attendance and sports-hating Strauss not missing the opportunity to conduct for the spectacle that marked the beginning of that century's most infamous Olympics.

Strauss's early choral works - such as "Taillefer" and "Bardengesang" -are somewhat bombastic, indeed even militaristic. Surprising since Strauss never had any great interest in war or kinship with soldiers. His "Austria" is more in the smaltzy patriotic encomium vein that Germans and Austrians seem to love.

All the works were well performed and it was a treat to hear a side of Strauss about which I knew little. But, no, I definitely don't need any of the six pieces on CD.
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