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Richard Strauss’s dazzling tone poem An Alpine Symphony, composed between 1911 and 1915, depicts the changing moods of a mountain landscape during the ascent and descent of an Alpine peak. Inspired by an expedition in his youth, it begins with ‘a sunrise in Switzerland’ and ends with sunset the same day. Its extraordinary sonic imagery graphically portrays the excitement of the journey, the sights and sounds of nature on the way and the majesty of the surroundings, from cowbells in the meadow and gentle mountain streams to the violent storm that engulfs the climbers on the way down. An Alpine Symphony didn’t become part of the core repertoire until the digital era, partly because of the immense orchestral forces required, but now it is now one of Richard Strauss’s most popular orchestral works. Bernard Haitink’s legendary partnership with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra has produced many great recordings over the years. This reading of An Alpine Symphony was first released in 1985, to great acclaim. The Gramophone reviewer described it as ‘quite simply the finest performance I have encountered’. Haitink is a seasoned Strauss conductor, and his Mahlerian experience shows in the way he is able to capture all the details of the complex score with great lucidity, whilst never losing sight of the overall structure of the piece.
Eine Alpensinfonie, Op. 64