Also sprach Zarathustra (Thus Spoke Zoroaster), tone poem for orchestra, Op. 30 (TrV 176)
- Burleske for piano & orchestra (or 2 pianos) in D minor, o.Op. 85 (TrV 145, AV 85) (18:13)
When shopping for a good recording of "Also Sprach Zarathustra," one might look around for a reliable conductor, famous orchestra, or major label before making a decision, and probably bypass any discs that have unfamiliar names in small print on their covers -- these couldn't possibly be any good, right? Well, think again. Even though John Fiore is not yet a household name, and the Düsseldorfer Symphoniker is not quite a world-class orchestra, this recording on Hänssler Classic of Richard Strauss' great Nietzschean tone poem is amazingly good for the miniscule size of the names. This is a richly scored work that presents myriad opportunities for every section of the orchestra to shine, and the opulent music makes a strong impression, no matter who is conducting it. Where Fiore's talents come in is in controlling the flurries of notes and making the textures sound clear and separate, no mean feat in this densely orchestrated and highly varied opus, but one that this conductor accomplishes with considerable skill. Though Fiore is primarily known for conducting operas, he seems quite at home in the orchestral field and delivers a rewarding reading of one of Strauss' most difficult scores, which the Düsseldorf ensemble pulls off with panache. Joined by virtuoso pianist Gerhard Oppitz in the entertaining "Burleske for piano and orchestra," an early work in the Brahmsian mold, Fiore and the orchestra turn in a remarkably enjoyable program that should satisfy most listeners, and even the most critical Strauss fans should give this worthwhile CD a spin.