- Don Juan, tone poem for orchestra, Op. 20 (TrV 156) (18:41)
Ein Heldenleben (A Hero's Life), tone poem for orchestra, Op. 40 (TrV 190)
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Valery Gergiev's recordings with the Munich Philharmonic have included Anton Bruckner's "Symphony No. 4 in E flat major, Romantic," and Gustav Mahler's "Symphony No. 2 in C minor, Resurrection," so his 2017 release of Richard Strauss' "Don Juan" and "Ein Heldenleben" continues the programming of late Romantic works that this conductor and orchestra play especially well. Gergiev is in complete sympathy with the music of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and Strauss is perhaps the most representative figure of the post-Wagnerian era, since Bruckner and Mahler created distinctive profiles that proved inimitable, while Strauss dominated the orchestral scene for more than half a century and found numerous imitators. These performances of the tone poems "Don Juan" and "Ein Heldenleben" are lush, luxuriant, and expansive, so it's immediately apparent that the orchestra is totally immersed in Strauss' dense textures and vivid sonorities. Gergiev never rushes and takes pains to stretch the performances to their greatest possible length, giving the listener time to appreciate myriad details in the inner parts while basking in the luminous sounds. The reproduction is equally rich and glowing, and this third release on the orchestra's own label promises a glorious future for Gergiev and the Munich Philharmonic.