Albrecht’s Ein Heldenleben: Clear But Dull

Review by: David Hurwitz

StraussAlbrecht

Artistic Quality: 6

Sound Quality: 9

Someone really ought to have the guts make a suite out of Ein Heldenleben. It would include the opening, the critics, the love scene, and end with the battle. The rest of it is just worthless. In this performance Albrecht spends twelve interminable minutes presenting the Hero’s annoying girlfriend, and as for the “works of peace” and other nonsense, well, I’d rather listen to the “works of peace” individually, and the Hero can’t die fast enough for me–eleven minutes and forty-nine seconds is eleven minutes and forty-seven seconds too long. God knows the Netherlands Philharmonic  plays the thing well enough, with clear, light textures, but it’s just so damn dull.

Similarly the Burleske: Denis Kozhukhin scampers through the impossible piano part with total confidence, and the performance moves nicely forward. Really, it does. But the music is just so anonymous. The best melody is the opening timpani solo. If only it had a couple of really good tunes to keep the attention focused! I can appreciate the pianistic hijinks, the tongue-in-cheek humor, but there’s no substance to it. Is it the performers’ fault or the work’s? Who knows? Maybe you’ve just got to be in the mood, but we’re still a long way from Till Eulenspiegel. Good sonics, granted, but my gosh this music sounds dated. Both pieces do.



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Recording Details:

Reference Recording: Ein Heldenleben: Reiner (RCA)


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