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Strauss: Ein Heldenleben, Op. 40 ()

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Say what you want about the egomaniacal Austrian conductor Herbert von Karajan, he was far and away the best postwar interpreter of German composer Richard Strauss' megalomaniacal Ein Heldenleben. In this 1959 Deutsche Grammophon recording with the Berliner Philharmoniker, Karajan approaches the work as a portrait painted in sound of the artist as a young world conqueror. Though Karajan draws playing of tremendous fire and daring out of the Berlin musicians and though Deutsche Grammophon captures the performance in immediate stereo sound, the real hero of this Hero's Life is Karajan himself. He has the measure of the score, knows when to apply pressure and when to pull back, when to let the brass go and when to reign them in, when to let the harmonies bloom and when to cut them off. But more importantly, Karajan believes in the music. Other postwar conductors could give convincing performances of Ein Heldenleben -- one thinks, of course, of Fritz Reiner and the Chicago Symphony's high-powered 1954 RCA... Hide synopsis

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