RICHARD STRAUSS - At The End of the Rainbow - A film by Eric
MAHLER: Symphony No 5 in C sharp minor. Symphony No. 6 in A minor
MAHLR: Symphony No. 7 in E minor. Symphony No. 8 in E flat "Symphony
of a Thousand."
At the End of the Rainbow is an important, if disappointing documentary by Eric Schultz, who already has made films about Carlos Klieber and Herbert von Karajan. Richard Strauss is the subject. There are some intriguing scenes, particularly a video of Srauss conducing the Berlin Philharmonic in the 1936 premiere of the Olympic Anthem at the Berlin Olympics. with a huge choruses, vast audience—and Hitler very prominent. We also have several singers discussing Strauss and his music. Strauss's letters's are read by two young actors, and there are many musical excerpts played on the piano; all of this is often interrupted by arty close-ups of performers. There also are a number of scenes that have little to do with the story. Often when hearing Strauss's music we see the close-up facial expressions of the commentators. We do have brief excerpts of Strauss conducting Till Eulenspiegel and An Alpine Symphony (why not more?). Subtitles are provided. It is fascinating to observe Strauss's minimalist but effective conducting style. He is the very picture of controlled, emotionless direction. There is considerable discussion of Salome and a brief video excerpt from a 1942 performance conducted by Strauss (unfortunately during much of it we see the facial expressions of Strauss's great grandson(!). How about the complete opera? Does it exist somewhere in the archives? The leading soprano cananot be identified, perhaps it was Maria Cebotari? In 1944 there wa a gala performance of Salome at the Vienna State Opera with Lujba Welitsch and the composer condcting on the occasion of his birthday. Surely the German radio must have recorded this? And where is it? Anyway, this new film has some items of interest, but the approach to the subject, and contents, leaves much to be desired. There is no listing of detailed information about music, performers, etc. This information surely would have been welcome.
Paavo Järvi and his Frankfurt Radio Symphony have been specializing in Mahler over the past few ears, and some of their performances have shown up on Youtube as well as DVD. Earlier this year this site mentioned Mahler's Symphonies 1 and 2 with Paavo Järvi and Frankfurt Radio forces (REVIEW). Symphonies 5 and 6 were recorded in Kloster Eberbach June 25/26,2011 (No. 5) and June 29/30, 2013. The chuch is a rather awkward venue, but engineers have done a splendid job in capturing very realistic orchestral sound. In the scherzo of Symphony No. 5, Samuel Seidenberg plays the horn solo standing next to Järvi and plays it magnificently. I found much to admire in these performances of 5 and 6. There also is much to admire in Symphonies Nos.7 and 8, both recorded in a more appropriate venus, Kurhaus Wiiesbaden, Friedrich-von-Thiersch-Saal August 12, 2011 (No. 7) and May 24-25, 2013. Symphony 7 is a single take showing the virtuosity of the fine orchestra. The octet of soloists in No. 8 is excellent. This hardly is a "symphony of a thousand." There simply wasn't enough room for a huge chorus. The extra brass complement would have been more effective if they were in the balcony of the auditorium. Video is excellent throughout, as is audio. A major debit is that there is only one track for the entire second movement of Symphony 8.Each of the symphonies includes a brief commentary on the music by Järvi.
R.E.B. (May 2015)