Symphony No.29 in A, K201
Tod und Verklärung, Op.24
Christa Ludwig (mezzo-soprano)
Recorded 15 August 1972 in the Grosses Festspielhaus, Salzburg
Reviewed by: Paul Pritchard
Reviewed: September 2004
CD No: ORFEO C 607 031 B
Duration: 71 minutes
The Mozart and Strauss items are standard Karl Böhm repertoire. He recorded these works commercially and there are other live performances available of the Strauss. Do we need these? Yes. This Salzburg Festival concert offers some fine, dedicated and high-minded performances. Staatskapelle Dresden and Böhm had a long relationship. There’s ease to the Mozart symphony that speaks of familiarity, but not contempt, the music being spaciously and expressively delivered, with culture, weight and buoyancy; an infectious and touching, big-band and traditional Mozart performance, sweetly and warmly played – and none the worse for that!
There are live Böhm performances of the Strauss from 1963 (Vienna Philharmonic, Andante and DG) and 1977 (London Symphony Orchestra, Andante). This Dresden one reports a familiar interpretation, one long-viewed, which grows to a transcendental climax and a glowing final chord. The combination of structured conducting and seasoned, innate playing creates a compelling atmosphere.
Böhm didn’t conduct Mahler often and (as far as I know) confined himself to the song-cycles; he recorded two of them with Fischer-Dieskau for DG. Christa Ludwig, one of the very greatest Mahler interpreters, brings her clarity, linearity and word-pointing to recreate Mahler’s settings to a heightened sense of poignancy without phrasal hiatus or excessive emotion. Böhm is a tactful but not anonymous accompanist and the Dresden orchestra play with an interior beauty that is very affecting.
With natural sound, a top quality radio broadcast, these fine performances are worthy of this permanence.