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Richard Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra op. 30 & Don Quixote op. 35

Richard Strauss - Also sprach Zarathustra op. 30 & Don Quixote op. 35-String instruments
ID: GMCD7204 (EAN: 795754720426)  | 1 CD | DDD
Publi: 2000
Guild GmbH
String instruments
STRAUSS, Richard
BENEDICT, Roger (viola) | KREGER, James (cello)
Philharmonia Orchestra
Chef d'orchestre:
YU, Djong Victorin
Pour plus amples dtails:

Recorded: Fairfield Halls, Croydon 6 Janaury, 9-10 September and 9 December 1994

Don Quixote: James Kreger - cello
Sancho Panza: Roger Benedict - viola
Orchestra Leader: Hugh Bean C.B.E.
STRAUSS, Richard (1864-1949) 
Also sprach Zarathustra op. 30 
Tondichtung für großes Orchester (frei nach Friedrich Nietzsche) 
1. Einleitung - Introduction - Sehr breit1:40
2. Von den Hintlerweltlern - Of those in the world beyond - Weniger breit3:43
3. Von der großen Sehnsucht - Of the Great Yearning - Bewegter2:06
4. Von den Freunden und Leidenschaften - Of Joys and Passions - Bewegt3:08
5. Das Grablied - The Song of the Grave - Etwas ruhiger1:08
6. Von der Wissenschaft - Of Science - Sehr Langsam4:30
Der Genesende - The Convalescent 
7. Energisch des vorigen Zeitmasses1:45
8. Ziemlich langsam3:34
9. Das Tanzlied - The Dance-Song8:26
10. Nachtwandlerlied - Song of the Night Wanderer4:27
Don Quixote op. 35. Fantastische Variationen über ein Thema ritterlichen Charakters 
11. Mäßiges Zeitmaß6:35
12. Mäßig - Der Ritter von der traurigen Gesalt - The Knight of the Rueful Countenance1:05
13. Maggiore (Sancho Panza)1:07
14. Variation I. Gemächlich. Das Abenteuer mit den Windmuhlen - The Adventure of the Windmills2:48
15. Variation II. Kriegerisch - Der Kampf gegen die Hammelherde - The Battle with the Sheep1:39
Variation III. Gesprache zwischen Ritter und Knappe - Dialogue of the Knight and Squire 
16. Mäßiges Zeitmaß4:00
17. Viel langsamer4:25
18. Variation IV. Etwas breiter - Das Abenteuer mit der Prozession von Büßern - The Adventure with the Procession of Penitents1:50
19. Variation V. Sehr langsam - Don Quixotes Waffenwache un Herzensergüsse - Don Quixote's Vigil3:55
20. Variation VI. Schnell - Die verzauberte Dulzinea - Dulcinea's Enchantment1:18
21. Variation VII. Ein wening ruhiger als vorher - Der Ritt durch die Luft - The Ride through the Air1:18
22. Variation VIII. Gemächlich - Die Fahrt auf dem verzauberten Nachen - The Adventure of the Enchanted Boat1:57
23. Variation IX. Schnell und stürmisch - Der Kampf gegen die vermeintlichen - The Contest with the Enchanters1:07
24. Variation X. Viel breiter - Joust with the Knight of the White Moon; The Defeated Don Quixote's Journey Home4:17
25. Finale. Sehr ruhig - Don Quixotes Tod - The Death of Don Quixote5:45


The question of how many tone poems Richard Strauss wrote depends on whether one includes the early Aus Italien in this category. The count with Aus Italien makes Also sprach Zarathustra (Thus Spake Zarathustra) the sixth of his nine tone poems.

This CD presents Strauss's two great works in this genre--Also sprach Zarathustra, Op. 30, and Don Quixote, Op. 35. A word on what is meant by the term "tone poem." In music dictionaries, the entry under "tone poem" refers the reader to "symphonic poem," an obvious indication that, like so much in music and the arts, the lines are blurred. Franz Liszt, with his works like Tasso, Les Préludes, and Mazeppa, to name three, which he called "symphonic poems," refers to the fact that the music is programmatic, and its content and form are suggested in, or analogous to, a drama, poetry, painting, etc.

Richard Strauss wrote symphonic poems/tone poems to both philosophical and descriptive programmes. His best works in the philosophical genre are Tod und Verklärung (Death and Transfiguration), 1889, and Also sprach Zarathustra (Thus Spake Zarathustra), 1896. In the descriptive (and literary) category, we have Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche (Till Eulenspiegel's Merry Pranks), 1895, and Don Quixote, 1896-7.

Perhaps some comments on Zarathustra are called for first. Spitama Zarathustra, to give him his full name, was born in Iran, in the region that may be a part of Azerbaijan today. There is controversy about the time he lived. Some believe that he was alive around 600 B.C., but there are scholars who give the date of around 1500 B.C., or even earlier. Zarathustra was the founder of the religion that bears his name--Zoroastrianism. His basic philosophy for daily life is summed up in three words--humata, hukhta, haverasta (good thoughts, good words, good deeds).

The scriptures propounded by Zarathustra and the religious writings of his followers are known collectively as Avesta. Its two parts are the Avesta and the later Khordeh Avesta. The most important part of the scriptures is the "Gathas," or "Divine Songs." Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche's basic inspiration for his literary masterpiece comes from the "Divine Songs," and he used this great prophet of antiquity as a prop on which to hang his own ideas about the purpose and destiny of man.

In presenting his work in 1885, Nietzsche called it "a book for all and for none." The book sold as if it were on today's best-seller charts. Lines from the Nietzsche work were used by Gustav Mahler as text in the fourth movement of his Third Symphony. In 1899, Frederick Delius composed his setting of Midnight Song, which, along with other material from Also sprach Zarathustra, was incorporated in his most ambitious work, A Mass of Life. Arnold Schönberg and Nicholas Medtner wrote songs using parts of the Nietzsche text.

Strauss's response to Nietzsche's book is quite different from setting text to music. His symphonic poem is not, as Strauss pointed out, "setting philosophy to music," but, rather, his expression of the impact that the book made on him when he read it--one of exaltation and wonder. When Nietzsche was asked how he would characterise his own Zarathustra, he remarked, "It really belongs among the symphonies." Strauss has the answer in his Op. 30 symphonic poem; originally, he planned to give it the subtitle "symphonic optimism in fin-de-sičcle form dedicated to the twentieth century."

The first sketches for Also sprach Zarathustra date from February 1894 in Weimar. Strauss began systematic work on it on December 7, 1895, and finished it on August 24, 1896, in Munich. However, the autograph of the full score is headed: "Begun 4 February 1896, my beloved Paula's birthday." Strauss conducted the premičre in Frankfurt on November 27, 1896. Many leveled the criticism that he had attempted to write "philosophical music," but Strauss explained it thus: "I did not intend to write philosophical music or to portray in music Nietzsche's great work....The whole symphonic poem is intended as an homage to Nietzsche's genius...."

The score is prefaced by an excerpt from Zarathustra's prologue describing his withdrawal from home and family and the years he spent searching for the truth: "Having attained the age of thirty, Zarathustra left his home and the lake of his home and went into the mountains. Then he rejoiced in his spirit and his loneliness, and for ten years did not grow weary of it. But at last his heart turned. One morning, he got up with the dawn and stepped into the presence of the sun...." Over a slow, low, four bars drone, we hear the opening three-note phrase, which Stanley Kubrick used in his movie, Odyssey 2001, and which reflects daybreak and sunrise. The music soars to a shattering intensity. This beginning three-note motif, the so-called "world riddle," pervades the whole work in various guises. Tremolo in the cellos and basses sets the mood of the first episode, or Introduction (Einleitung).

For the other eight sections, Strauss uses Nietzsche's chapter headings to outline in music man's ability to evolve from a primitive stage to that of higher realisation. In the section entitled "Of Backworld's Men" (Von den Hinterweltlern), Strauss uses the Gregorian hymn Credo in unum Deum, which is played by the horns. In "Of the Great Longing" (Von der grossen Sehnsucht), which is full of energy, fast runs in the upper strings are answered by the woodwinds. A harp glissando leads to "Of Joys and Passions" (Von den Freuden und Leidenschaften). Here, the music depicts intense physicality. In "The Song of the Grave" (Das Grablied), the oboe has a plaintive theme. In the section that follows, "Of Science" (Von der Wissenschaft), Strauss treats the opening three-note motif as a fugue. In the next part, "The Convalescent" (Der Genesende), all the thematic material is treated with an extraordinary sense of orchestral virtuosity. The solo violin has a major role in "The Dance Song" (Das Tanzlied) where Strauss takes on the waltz, which, just a decade earlier, the Strausses in Vienna had raised to a major art form. Again, it is a repeated use of the three-note motif that precedes the solo violin. In the concluding section, "The Song of the Night Wanderer" (Das Nachtwandlerlied), midnight is struck by a low-pitched bell that begins fortissimo and fades with every stroke. We hear the basic thematic material for the last time, and it brings the work to a quiet close.

After the final rehearsal of the work in Frankfurt on November 26, 1896, before its first performance the next day, Strauss wrote to his wife Pauline that "Zarathustra is glorious....The climaxes are immense and...faultlessly scored."

DON QUIXOTE, Op. 35, Fantastic Variations on a Theme of Knightly Character
Composed in 1897, this work received its first performance on March 8, 1898, in Cologne with Friedrich Grutzmacher as the solo cellist. Since Miguel de Cervantes' book appeared in 1605, the subject has inspired many artists and musicians. Among the composers are Jules Massenet, Carl Maria von Weber, Gaetano Donizetti, Manuel de Falla, and Nicholas Nabokov, to name a few. In a letter that Strauss wrote to Gustav Kogel, director of the Frankfurt Museum Concerts, he says "Don Quixote and Ein Heldenleben are conceived so much as an immediate pendant," and he suggests pairing the two to make a complete evening's programme. Strauss recorded his progress in writing this work in the detailed entries he made in his diary: "Began scoring at noon on August 12." The score was finished at "11.42 a.m. on Dec. 29, 1897."

Don Quixote is one of the grandest works in variation form for big instrumental combination. The cello takes the role of Don Quixote, the viola the part of his companion, Sancho Panza, and the solo violin represents the fair Dulcinea. Because of the prominence of the three solo instruments, one is tempted to call the work a triple concerto.

Don Quixote consists of an introduction, the theme, and ten variations. The winds in the introduction take us into the world of chivalry and gallantry and into the mind of Don Quixote. We hear the chivalry theme in the cello representing the Don, followed by the theme of Sancho Panza, which, before the viola takes it up, is heard in the bass clarinet and the tuba.

Variation I describes the adventure with the windmills.

Variation II is "The Battle with the Sheep," which the Don thinks is the army of the great emperor Alifanfaron. The bleating of sheep is heard in the muted brass and woodwinds.

Variation III is the dialogue between the knight and his squire about chivalry.

In Variation IV, a distant doleful chant signals the arrival of the pilgrims. To Quixote, they are a bunch of rogues. He attacks them but is knocked senseless. The pilgrims continue on their way.

During Variation V, the knight keeps vigil over his weapons while Sancho Panza sleeps. Quixote imagines that he sees Dulcinea. This is represented in the music by fantastic glissandi from the harp.

Variation VI depicts Sancho Panza insisting that the country girl with the tambourine is Dulcinea. Quixote thinks that black magic has transformed his princess, and he vows vengeance.
In Variation VII, Strauss uses a wind machine to add to the dramatic effect of the glissandi in the harp, the rolls of the timpani, and the large orchestra.

In Variation VIII, the knight's theme turns up in the form of a barcarolle as he and Sancho Panza board a battered boat, seeking new adventures. The boat capsizes. The two swim ashore and offer a prayer of thanks.

Variation IX shows Don Quixote galloping off again. He meets two monks, represented by two bassoons. Quixote charges them and the monks flee.

Variation X reveals the Don suffering defeat at the hands of an impostor who is masquerading as the Knight of the White Moon. He challenges Quixote to a joust. As the victor, the Knight imposes on Quixote the terms of the contest: no knightly jousts for a year. Don Quixote returns to La Mancha.

The Finale portrays the death of Don Quixote. The remorse and humiliation of the dejected Don are captured in the solo cello's sustained melody. An octave drop on the cello indicates a peaceful death.


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