Strauss: Eine Alpensinfonie - Jurowski

Strauss: Eine Alpensinfonie - Jurowski

PentaTone Classics  PTC 5186802

Stereo/Multichannel Hybrid

Classical - Orchestral

Strauss: Eine Alpensinfonie

Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin
Vladimir Jurowski (conductor)


Vladimir Jurowski and the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester continue their PENTATONE journey through the heights of German late-Romantic repertoire with a recording of Richard Strauss’s Eine Alpensinfonie. The Alpine Symphony was inspired by the composer’s experiences during a mountain trail, and is an audience favourite thanks to its picturesque, idyllic charm and powerfully evocative score. To Jurowski, the attraction of this piece lies not so much in the picturesque, but rather in Strauss’s Nietzschean embrace of living in the now and the transformative power of being in complete harmony with sublime nature. In that respect, this album shares a kinship not only with Jurowski’s previous recording of Strauss’s Also Sprach Zarathustra (2017), but equally with his acclaimed interpretation of Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde (2020), in which he also recognizes a composer coming to terms with the mortality of man while celebrating the immortal nature of Life. Seen in this light, Strauss’s Alpine Symphony becomes much more than just an exquisitely scored postcard.

The Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin has a vast PENTATONE discography. Together with their chief conductor and artistic director Vladimir Jurowski, they have recorded Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde (2020), symphonic works from Mahler and Strauss (2017), violin concertos by Britten and Hindemith together with Arabella Steinbacher (2017), and Schnittke’s Third Symphony (2015).

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PCM recording
Comments (5)

Comment by hiredfox - August 25, 2021 (1 of 5)

So disappointing that this is a PCM recording. Venue limitations presumably. Sorry Pentatone but I'll skip this one.

Comment by breydon_music - September 13, 2021 (2 of 5)

I think your assumption is somewhat flattering to Pentatone whose values seem to have undergone a sea change of late. DSD and SACD seem to have been brushed aside in favour of (no doubt cheaper) PCM and RBCD. Nowhere better indicated than in the forthcoming release of Steinbacher's second Mozart concerto disc - the first one was DSD / SACD. The new one features the same soloist, accompanists and venue but is being issued, like Kozena's newest disc, as PCM /RBCD. Several other major artists' latest issues have also been RBCD. They have also been discounting their physical back catalogue frighteningly for nearly a year now, no doubt to turn an asset into hard cash in these challenging times, but perhaps also betraying the new management's preference for downloading / streaming. Though I'll never be doing that at my age, it's easy to see the attraction for any record company these days - no manufacturing costs, no inventory issues, no warehousing and greatly reduced distribution costs, and of course the end of the pre-owned market to take the edge off future potential sales! I think for us Pentatone is now a dead duck; what a shame for the high standards with which the original team set up the business.

Comment by hiredfox - September 15, 2021 (3 of 5)

I am prepared to give Pentatone the benefit of the doubt. The last 18 months has been a nightmare for everyone. No doubt Pentatone have had to compromise their normal high standards just to ensure that a few new recordings could be made and the business kept ticking over.

With severe limitations on travel, moving equipment around from country to country and lockdowns that probably has translated into having to use any in-house recording facilities at available and accessible recording venues.

Better to judge their future intent in a year's time when all of this disruption might be better managed at government and local levels. In the meantime we should keep buying SACD just to provide them with an income stream and help secure their future. We as a community are part of this solution.

Comment by Graham Williams - September 16, 2021 (4 of 5)

I think you are being optimistic John.

Since Pentatone has moved to becoming an artist rather than a repertoire focused label they have also subtly moved from SACD to RBCD as breydon-music states. The third and latest release in the Rene Jacobs Schubert cycle is RBCD (PCM) not SACD (DSD) unlike the previous two issues. They also seem to have side-lined, to some extent, the Polyhymnia engineers whose superb recordings made the label the audiophile choice for many.

The Alpine Symphony is a very good performance, but the sound (PCM) is no match for that on many other competing versions. Presumably it was to please their new star conductor Vladimir Jurowski that this was released, since Pentatone already have no less than two versions of the work in their catalogue from Orozco_Estrada (PCM) and Janowski (DSD) the latter including as a fill-up of Strauss's Macbeth.

Comment by Steven Harrison - September 16, 2021 (5 of 5)

I'm with Hired Fox on this one.
Perhaps people here have forgotten Bissie's comments several years ago on the old forum about Pentatone. Much of the initial management retired and the label only continued thanks to the input of Getty money. At that time there was also a shift in focus in what was recorded and released. And now in the past year or two there has been a shift to the Channel model of releases, rbcd discs and downloads, with only a some select sacd disc releases.
Since there is little to no industry commenting anymore, we don't get industry insights as in the past.