Robin Ticciati, DSO Berlin & Louise Alder - Strauss - Fanfare

No one realized when Simon Rattle was appointed Principal Conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic in 2002 that he presaged a wave of non-German conductors in the future, which now includes Kirill Petrenko at the Philharmonic, Vladimir Jurowski at the Berlin Radio Symphony, and Robin Ticciati at the Deutsches Symphony; they join the long-standing Daniel Barenboim at the Berlin State Opera and the related Staatskapelle Berlin. I’m afraid this insurgence reflects the general low standing of German and Austrian conductors once you get past Christian Thielemann and Franz Welser-Möst. But that’s a subject for another day.

Death and Transfiguration is conductor-proof because of its built-in excitement. Ticciati doesn’t set out to undermine those qualities, and the climactic moments are as effective as ever, particularly in Linn’s excellent recorded sound, which is probably the main reason to consider buying this release. There are a few slack passages at the outset, but Ticciati wins my regard for not milking the score for sentimentality. Thanks to its delicacy, this new reading is more convincing than a recent account from Vasily Petrenko and the Oslo Philharmonic (LAWO). But you have to accept the occasionally mannered passage from Ticciati, and Petrenko has the major advantage of a compelling reading of An Alpine Symphony.

The present CD gets a respectable total timing thanks to the six songs of op. 68 set to texts by Clemens Brentano. The date of 1918 is late for the most popular Strauss Lieder, excepting the Four Last Songs, but these songs have many rapturous moments. Louise Alder’s light lyric soprano needs the microphone’s help, which allows us to enjoy the lovely lyrical line she spins in “An die Nacht.” On the other hand, the acrobatic coloratura in “Amor” brings out a hint of shrillness, even shrieking, because we are too close to the singer. Alder is something of a specialist in art song, and stylistically she’s very appealing. Her technique is secure almost all the time, and her German makes a good impression for her handling of the text.

15 December 2020