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Dip Your Ears, No. 104 (Haitink in the Alps)

available at AmazonR.Strauss, Eine Alpensinfonie,
Haitink / LSO
LSO Live
Later this year I will have a large comparative review of half a dozen or more recordings of Richard Strauss’ Alpine Symphony. Philippe Jordan’s recording, reviewed by Charles a little while ago, will be among them. Ditto a newly released RIAS broadcast with Karl Böhm (audite), Bychkov’s WDR recording on PROFIL, the re-release of Welser-Möst’s fabulously cinematic LPO recording (EMI), and hopefully a few others. But there is one of the bunch that can't wait until then, and that’s Bernard Haitink's with the LSO on the LSO Live label. What a surprise, this one.

Haitink, I love, of course. Especially live, especially in composers like Bruckner. But Richard Strauss? The Alpine Symphony? The LSO? Those are ingredients that don’t, on paper, evoke a gritty ascend to the summit, craggy excitement of rock and thunder, shist and lightning. Or particular Bavarian flair. Well, time to give my etch-a-sketch of stereotypes a good shake: this is a riotous interpretation, a tender one, exploring extremes, and with the most deliciously depraved low tuba note I have yet heard recorded… sounding out with such gusto that it would suffice to prove the existence of the ‘Brown Note’, if it weren’t a myth. One of my favorite recordings on the LSO Live label and—pending the Alpensinfonie-marathon results—my favorite recording of Strauss’ oft-maligned masterpiece.


Bruce Hodges said...

Thanks for these comments, and I'll look forward to the comparison. I guess I'm one of the few who really adore this piece--perhaps because my very first hearing of it was in the early 1980s at Carnegie Hall, with von Karajan and Berlin (remainder of program: Stravinsky's Apollo).

But to get to the point: Haitink's recording of the Strauss with the Concertgebouw is one of my favorite (non-recent) versions.

Bruce Hodges said...

I love the Strauss (and guess I'm one of the few who do). And Haitink's Philips recording with the Concertgebouw is one of my favorite (non-recent) versions.