Richard Strauss: “Also Sprach Zarathustra” – The Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Herbert von Karajan
The opening fanfare from Richard Strauss’s “Also sprach Zarathustra” (“Thus spoke Zarathustra”) is known to everyone since it was ‘rediscovered’ in Stanley Kubrick’s film “2001: A Space Odyssey” and consequently employed time and again in TV ads. At the turn of the century, however, renowned music critics asked themselves whether they should even bother to listen to the rest of the work, a symphonic poem, which – they presumed – was a narration in music of Nietzsche’s book. In what is probably his most famous orchestral composition, Strauss, however, freely associated the words of the Saxon poet and philosopher when putting them into music by using the key of C major to depict nature, and the greatly contrasting key of B major for humanity.
Once again Herbert von Karajan proves himself a distinguished tour guide through the wistful, secretive and bleak sound world through which Strauss has his questing hero wander. And the Berlin Philharmonic thank him with captivating, meltingly beautiful violins, deep growling basses, and steely winds. One recalls with pleasure the legendary leading violinist Michel Schwalbé, who plays the solo part with immense feeling and profundity. Enhanced by a perfected analogue recording technique, this disc is a wise choice when it comes to Strauss.
Recording: January and March 1973 at Jesus-Christus-Kirche, Berlin, by Günter Hermanns
Production: Dr. Hans Hirsch