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Geoff Woods
The Flying Inkpot, November 2004

"This is a wonderful performance, full of self-parody and amiable grandiloquence. Above all it is fun, and that is exactly what Strauss' music should be. The Concertgebouw plays with an abandon that has long since abandoned its concerts. ... It's possibly the most enjoyable interpretation [of Ein Heldenleben] I've heard. These performances will dispel any memories of the supermarket Strauss with which any half-decent contemporary conductor continues to assault us. Mengelberg is a paragon of wit and panache, and his Concertgebouw Orchestra a magical, beguiling instrument equally attuned to delicacy and virtuosic brilliance. The recorded sound is excellent; the balance between treble and bass has been carefully calibrated and much of Strauss' internal part-writing emerges with impressive clarity."

James. H. North
Fanfare, April 2002

"To start with, this 1941 Telefunken recording was one of the finest of the 78-rpm era, not only in performance but also in sound... We have, mirabile dictu, arrived at an age when these audio wizards can give us more than the original 78s did... This Naxos issue should please more listeners, as it gets rid of more noise while losing almost nothing of the performance... Listening to Mengelberg's 1942 recording [of Tod und Verklarung] reminds us what all of the excitement was about."

David Hurwitz, November 2001

"The allegro passages [in Death and Transfiguration] work up to a fine fury ...and the actual moment when the dying man gives up the ghost allows the important quiet strokes on the tam-tam more prominence than in many modern renditions. What a pity then that the limitations of 1942 recording technology can't begin to capture the orchestral incandescence of the final transfiguring apotheosis--despite a warmly immediate and quite listenable transfer by Mark Obert-Thorn. Mengelberg fans will want this if they don't already have it."

Robert E. Benson

"Here is another treasure in Naxos' Historical Series offering superb new transfers of two specialties of Willem Mengelberg and his Concertgebouw orchestra... The Concertgebouw Heldenleben was recorded April 21,1941 by Telefunken on ten 78 rpm sides. It is a more expansive reading than the earlier New York recording...the more reflective moments in 'The Hero's Retreat from the World and Fulfillment' seem particularly poignant. Ferdinand Helman's solo violin is rich with portamento ... Death and Transfiguration is one of Mengelberg's supreme interpretations, reaching a shattering climax with blazing brass. It was recorded in April 1942, a year after Heldenleben ...The Amsterdam recording is outstanding, the use of portamento in the final pages unlike what is heard in any other recorded performance. There are other CDs available of both of these Strauss works. As these new transfers by Mark Obert-Thorn are equal to or superior to any previous issues, and available at budget price, they are highly recommended."

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