Strauss: Ein Heldenleben & Burleske
Richard Strauss used to conduct Rome’s symphony orchestra before the Second World War. We can only assume that the orchestra played as magnificently for him then as they do for Antonio Pappano here. Ein Heldenleben, a huge canvas full of self-quotations, is a work that conductors adore, and Pappano’s affection for the piece is apparent everywhere. He has the sweep, majesty, wit, and ambition perfectly gauged and the Santa Cecilia players are in terrific form, the frisson of a live performance a bonus. The “Burleske,” recorded under studio conditions, is also a triumph. French pianist Bertrand Chamayou and Pappano make you believe, utterly, in this early curiosity of Strauss’ output.