The Lucerne Festival Orchestra and Riccardo Chailly return with a new collaboration featuring some of the greatest works in the orchestral repertoire by German composer Richard Strauss, recorded live at the opening concert of the Lucerne Festival on 11th August 2017. The recording, released on Decca Classics on 6th September and featuring over 85 minutes of newly recorded music, continues the critically-acclaimed partnership between the LFO and Chailly, launched by the world premiere recording of Stravinsky’s Funeral Song in 2018.
Despite his long and decorated career, this release marks Chailly’s first recording of the music of Richard Strauss, though he has performed many of Strauss’ orchestral works in concert with the Royal Concertgebouw and Leipzig’s Gewandhausorchester. Chailly’s earliest exposure to this music occurred as a young audience member at La Scala, watching the likes of Zubin Mehta conduct Salomé, a work from which is featured on this new release. Latterly, he has been inspired by recordings made with Strauss himself at the podium: “Strauss was, along with his colleague Gustav Mahler, a great conductor as well as composer.”
Headlining its artistic leadership, Riccardo Chailly has been Music Director of the Lucerne Festival Orchestra since the summer of 2016. By founding the Lucerne Festival Orchestra in 2003, Claudio Abbado and Michael Haefliger made a direct link to the birth of the Festival in Lucerne in 1938, when Arturo Toscanini gathered celebrated virtuosos of the day into a unique elite orchestra for a Concert de Gala. Each summer, internationally acclaimed soloists, chamber musicians, and music teachers are invited to Lucerne, and this “orchestra of friends” became established around the world as one of the leading symphony orchestras.
Composed in 1895, Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche (‘Till Eulenspiegel’s merry pranks’), tells the story of a prankster who finds himself faced with the gallows. Despite the dark subject matter, Till’s lively spirit persists throughout the music until the final bars. Tod und Verklärung (‘Death and Transfiguration’), in contrast, anatomises a dying man’s reflections on his life and the physical slowing down of his early body.
Made famous by the Stanley Kubrick 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey, Also sprach Zarathustra (1896) is the goliath tone-poem inspired by Nietzsche’s philosophical novel, revealing the young Strauss’ masterly understanding of the orchestra. “Parallel to Mahler he’s one of the most complex composers. It’s amazing that at such a young age he could conceive the sound of a modern orchestra and reach the extremes – of power, of dynamics and of difficulty (individual and collective).”Chailly continues: “Richard Wagner is where Strauss’ language comes from, without doubt. And it’s important to remember what a great Wagner conductor Strauss was and how he knew and studied the art of orchestration: the idea of sound colouring. You can hear Wagner’s influence in the early Symphony in F minor as well as the opera Guntram, a work that I’ve studied in detail. But Strauss developed his own language very fast.”
Riccardo Chailly performs at the opening concert at the Lucerne Festival on 16th August, followed by performances on 17th and 24th August and 5thand 9th September. Richard Strauss is available to pre-order from 26th July and will be released on Decca Classics on 6th September.