STRAUSS: Ein Heldenleben, Op.
40 (recorded for Telefunken April, 1941).
Don Juan, Op. 20 (recorded for
Telefunken July 11, 1938).
(THIS CD IS NO LONGER AVAILABLE)
Here is a winner! I don't know what process Michael J. Dutton used for these transfers of Mengelberg's magnificent performances, but they are ideal in every way. A touch of artificial reverb has been added, but to great effect. Surface noise is non-existent with absolutely no loss in brilliance; all of the zing and glorious sound of the original 78s is here, with perfect side joins (even the awkward one in the Heldenleben battle scene). Don Juan has never sounded better (how far we have come since the early Mercury LP of this (MG 15000) that, in addition to being a poor transfer, cut off the final note!).
The performance of Ein Heldenleben is extraordinary, not quite as inspired as Mengelberg's 1928 New York Philharmonic recording which set the standard for recordings of this music. Some listeners may find Ferdinand Helman's violin solos too laced with portamento for their taste, a bit suspect in intonation as well, but this still is a performance to treasure. This Dutton CD is the one to own, preferable to the LYS issue reviewed on this site.
(Note: also read review of Heldenleben on Lys)