SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews

RICHARD STRAUSS: Suite for Orchestra: The Bourgeois Gentleman; Duet-Concertino for clarinet and bassoon; Sextet from “Capriccio”


Published on May 10, 2005

RICHARD STRAUSS: Suite for Orchestra: The Bourgeois Gentleman; Duet-Concertino for clarinet and bassoon; Sextet from “Capriccio”
RICHARD STRAUSS: Suite for Orchestra: The Bourgeois Gentleman;
Duet-Concertino for clarinet and bassoon; Sextet from “Capriccio” -
Daniel Sepec, violin; Nicole Kern, clarinet; Higinio Arrue, bassoon;
The German Chamber Philharmonic of Bremen/Paavo Järvi – Pentatone
multichannel SACD PTC 5186 060, 65:36 ****:

Richard Strauss is best known for his large-scale symphonic works -
especially (post-”2001”) for his Thus Spake Zarathustra. But conductor
Paavo Jarvi wanted to expose more of Strauss’ intimate chamber music,
and this delightful SACD is the result. He feels it is difficult to
find music more masterly, beautiful and charming than the suite from
Les Bourgeois Gentilhomme, and it’s long been one of my personal
favorites. The original idea was for Strauss to write incidental music
for the Moliere comedy Le bourgeois gentilhomme, which would then be
the framework for the performance of Strauss opera Ariadne aud Naxos.
The premiere was not a success and Strauss later arranged some of the
music into this witty suite, which retains some of the 17th century
setting in its bow to Baroque music.

The nine sections roughly parallel the story of the nouveau riche
merchant who lets his sudden affluence go to his head. There is a
humorous fencing lesson, a fitting with his tailors, and so forth. The
concluding and longest movement is The Dinner, which steps up the
parody, qouting Wagner and doing some French Baroque tone-painting.

The two woodwind soloists of the Duet have entirely different timbres,
making for an interesting interplay between them and the chamber
orchestra. Composed near the end of WWII, with Strauss entangled with
the Nazi regime, the lovely work seems to look for a musical escapism
from the real world. Pentatone’s five-channel surround concentrates on
the front soundstage and cleanly places the small orchestra in the
frontal arc.

- John Sunier




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