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Hugo Shirley
Gramophone, October 2017

Helped by the rich, burnished playing of the Vienna Philharmonic, this account from the Salzburg Festival shows Thielemann’s generous, big-hearted and expansive approach to the score to best advantage—and it’s beautifully captured on film. © 2017 Gramophone

Robert Cummings
Classical Net, October 2012

The star of this concert from the 2011 Salzburg Festival clearly is Renée Fleming. This is one of those instances when the singer on the program doesn’t have to warm up and gradually become involved: Fleming turns on the passion full throttle in the opening lied, Befreit. What a ravishing and committed performance this is! Bravo! The soprano was fifty-two at the time of this concert and her voice is as powerful and beautiful as ever. I would say it has darkened in tone perhaps only very slightly. Otherwise, it is youthful in sound and quite remarkable. But her phrasing and grasp of the emotional flow of the words and music are always sensitive and intelligent as well. All these virtues are present in every number here. Try Gesang der Apollopriesterin for another truly magnificent performance. But to select even this effort as a highlight would suggest it stands above the others in some way. The truth is, every performance is outstanding and I can say no more except that if there were nothing else on this disc of note, I would still recommend it for the twenty-five or so minutes she’s on stage. But there is more.

Christian Thielemann leads a solid, colorful and fairly straightforward reading of the Strauss Eine Alpensinfonie…Thielemann is very attentive to bringing out meaningful detail in this often complex score. In fact, I would say this is probably the most detailed and transparent reading of the work I’ve ever encountered. This is a fine, extremely well played performance of the work, and you won’t go wrong with it…it is a powerful, epic, atmospheric, and highly-detailed effort. Strauss’s colorful waterfall and storm effects are brilliantly realized here, and anyone wanting to examine his imaginative and complex orchestration will hear as much of it here as in any recording…

The new Thielemann DVD is one of the few video performances of An Alpine Symphony and features excellent sound and splendid camera work. © 2012 Classical Net Read complete review

Ivan March
Gramophone, September 2012

STRAUSS, R.: Lieder / Eine Alpensinfonie (Renee Fleming in Concert) (Thielemann) (NTSC) OA1069D
STRAUSS, R.: Lieder / Eine Alpensinfonie (Renee Fleming in Concert) (Thielemann) (Blu-ray, HD) OABD7101D

Although he lived well into the 20th century, Richard Strauss ignored the new modernistic styles of aggressive dissonance and atonalism. He wrote using a rich fund of melody and his reputation with the public remained high, but he was not so well admired by professional critical opinion and his scoring for large orchestra was often regarded as inflated. So it was with the Alpine Symphony, a spectacular, readily descriptive programme work. Today we know better, and its sonic extravagances and ready flow of descriptive melody are relished. Certainly they are in this live performance. Moreover, the conductor, Christian Thielemann, whose reading is satisfyingly spacious, reveals the work’s structural mastery in intermingling and transforming its many themes.

The excellent video director Michael Beyer expertly lays out the orchestra in front of us, following the music sensibly so that we can relish Strauss’s detailed scoring…with excellently balanced sound, the performance projects admirably…The closing Elegy is superbly managed.

Reneé Fleming’s fill-up is also quite splendid…She sings gloriously and the result is ravishing, including the excerpt from Arabella. The four songs, however, were written by Strauss for his beloved wife Pauline. They are essentially love songs and their composer often performed them in duo with her. They would surely have felt that Fleming’s rapturous performances were equally worthy of the music. © 2012 Gramophone Read complete review on Gramophone

Steven Bergman
EDGE Atlanta, August 2012

The quality of the recording is first-rate, and the performances are outstanding. Klaus Florian Vogt, recreating the role of Lohengrin, encompasses completely the sincerity of the knight…Elsa, portrayed by newcomer Annette Dasch, rises admirably to the difficult role, as she guides us through her inner conflicts of love and faith throughout the piece. Petra Lang shines as Ortrud, the evil sorceress, and baritones Georg Zeppenfeld and Jukka Rasilainen provide strong support as King Heinrich and Telramund, respectively.

This disc is a must-have for any follower of Wagner and German opera. © 2012 EDGE Atlanta Read complete review

John Terauds
Musical Toronto, August 2012

[Thielemann’s] deft handling of the thick and complex score to Strauss’s 1915 Alpine Symphony is a wonder. Rather than write separate movements, the composer wove together 22 episodes in his final extended tone poem depicting 24 hours in a hike up and down an Alpine hillside.

A conductor can dip their baton like a ladle into this thick orchestral stew at any given moment and come up with a different combination of vegetables and piece of meat. But Thielemann is steadfastly particular, carefully emphasizing the recurrence of motifs and modulating the dynamics of 125 instrumentalists with an iron will emanating from his eyes.

Thielemann allows himself the slightest hint of a smile after the final chord dies away, very discreetly letting his orchestra know that they did a beautiful job. © 2012 Musical Toronto Read complete review

David A. McConnell
MusicWeb International, July 2012

It is a thrilling experience to watch Renée Fléming sing Richard Strauss accompanied by the Vienna Philharmonic. Recorded live in front of a large, enthusiastic audience, the orchestra and Fleming are riveting. One can’t help but come away from these performances believing that there are no finer performers for the music of Strauss.

It is a genuine pleasure to watch Fleming, acting with voice and body fully to inhabit the mood and meaning of each song. It is also enjoyable to observe how much the orchestra watch and engage with her. They obviously admire and appreciate her and respond with playing of the highest order. Thielemann proves to be a master accompanist, following Fleming every step of the way. Their enjoyment at making music together is readily apparent in their eye contact during the songs, as well as the smiles at one another in between. The applause following “Mein Elemer!” is lengthy and wholehearted. A genuine rapport between orchestra, soloist, and conductor is obvious to all.

…the first half of this DVD is incredible. On the evidence of this recording, Thielemann is excellent at accompanying and supporting the interpretative ideas of other performers… © 2012 MusicWeb International Read complete review, July 2012

Fleming is a superb interpreter of Strauss vocal works—her performances of Four Last Songs are the best to be heard from any singer today—and there is something to be said for seeing as well as hearing the way she brings the music vividly to life, exploring its nuances and making it very much her own. Of the four songs here, Befreit (Op. 39, No. 4) is the deepest and most moving, although there are beauties and even profundities in all four. Even better is Fleming’s work in excerpts from Arabella, one of her signature roles, which she handles with strength and intensity…Fleming is entrancing enough to watch so that her fans will enjoy her performances here. Eine Alpensinfonie is lush and dynamic and is played with sumptuous warmth and as much drama as the score holds… © 2012 Read complete review

Robert Levine, July 2012

…Thielemann [and] the Vienna Philharmonic…play like the stars they are. Watching the gruff trombones and the virtuoso wind players, not to mention the army of double basses, is both fun and educational.

…no one will accuse the reading of not being exciting and the playing superb.

And where there’s Strauss and Thielemann, there’s Renée Fleming. The soprano sings the final moments of the first act of Arabella, in which the girl ponders marriage, and she enters the mood nicely and sings with lovely tone and a welcome inward gaze.

In all, this is clearly a treat for Straussians and Fleming fans…stunning sound and with spotless picture. © 2012 Read complete review

Robert Benson, June 2012

A feast for Strauss lovers can be seen on Opus Arte’s DVD featuring Renée Fleming with the Vienna Philharmonic directed by Christian Thielemann. Of particular interest here is Gesang der Apollopriesterin…the music has much of the sensuality…As you would expect from the Vienna Philharmonic, Strauss’s descriptive mountain venture is superbly played. Audio is excellent, as is the video… © 2012 Read complete review

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