Death and Transfiguration
Heinz Holliger (oboe)
Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra Michael Gielen
Regis RRC 1034 (78.04
Available from retailers for around £6.00
Gielen is one of the most interesting conductors around today. Formerly principal
guest conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra, he now divides his time between
his native Germany and the United States. He made this Strauss disc with
the Cincinnati Orchestra for Vox back in the early 1980s (1983-84), but it
has not been widely available in Britain before now.
The repertoire spans a period of nearly sixty years, between Death and
Transfiguration (1889) and the Oboe Concerto (1946).
Metamorphosen dates from just before the end of the war. This 'Elegy for
23 solo strings' is Strauss's requiem for the Germany he knew and loved,
for the opera houses and cities which were at the centre of his life. The
music is compelling and eloquent, deeply felt and skilfully constructed.
Gielen's performance matches all these demands, and his orchestra responds
in appropriate manner. The recording is secure though lacking the last degree
of richness in climaxes.
Much the same could be said of the performance of Death and Transfiguration,
though here both the playing and the recording might have been more intense;
the strings, in particular, do sound 'under-nourished' at times. Gielen has
a strong sense of the music's shape and structure, with particularly well
However, it is probably the Oboe Concerto which will be the chief attraction
for collectors, since the disc represents excellent value at nearly 80 minutes,
and the soloist is the great Heinz Holliger. Nor does he disappoint. His
performance is both technically accomplished and eloquently drawn, and Gielen's
accompaniment is ideal.
While this disc is not a top recommendation for these three works, it will
give much pleasure, and the performance of the Concerto can live with the