C1115. RICHARD STRAUSS Cond. Berlin Staatsoper Orch.: Don Juan – recorded 1929; w.Enrico Mainardi, Georg Kniestadt & Karl Reitz: Don Quixote – recorded 1933 (both Cond. by the Composer); Alois Melichar Cond. Berlin Phil.: Schlagobers – Ballet Pantomime – In the Confectioner’s Kitchen – recorded 1933. (Canada) St Laurent Studio YSL 78-121. Transfers by Yves St Laurent.
“Strauss, as conductor, made a large number of recordings, both of his own music as well as music by German and Austrian composers. His 1929 performances of TILL EULENSPIEGEL and DON JUAN with the Berlin State Opera Orchestra have long been considered the best of his early electrical recordings; even the original 78 rpm discs had superior sound for their time....
Born in Munich in 1864, Strauss was the son of Franz Joseph Strauss, the principal hornist in the Munich Court Orchestra. Strauss demonstrated musical aptitude at an early age, and his Serenade for 13 Winds, Op. 7 (1881), written when he was 17, led conductor Hans von Bülow to pronounce him ‘by far the most striking personality since Brahms’. Bülow was able to give Strauss his first commission and an assistant conductor position. Through new friendships, Strauss learned to admire the writings of Schopenhauer and Nietzsche and the music of Wagner and Liszt. He embarked on a long career of conducting and composing, which took him all over Europe and the U.S.
From the beginning of Strauss' career as a composer, it was evident that the orchestra was his natural medium. With the composition of AUS ITALIEN in 1886, Strauss embarked on a series of works that represents both one of the pivotal phases of his career and a body of music of central importance in the late German Romantic repertoire. Though he did not invent the tone poem per se, he brought it to its pinnacle. In such works as DON JUAN (1888-1889), EIN HELDENLEBEN (1897-1898), and ALSO SPRACH ZARATHUSTRA (1895-1896) -- whose first minute or so, thanks to its use in the film 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, is the composer's most readily recognizable music -- Strauss displayed his abundant gift for exploiting the coloristic possibilities of the orchestra as a dramatic device like few composers ever had (or have since).
With the arrival of the twentieth century, after becoming conductor at Berlin's Hofoper, Strauss' interest turned more fully to opera, resulting in a body of unforgettable works that have long been fixtures of the repertoire: SALOME (1903-1905), ELEKTRA (1906-1908), and DER ROSENKAVALIER (1909-1910) are just a few of his best-known efforts for the stage. In 1919, Strauss became co-director of the Vienna Staatsoper, but was forced to resign five years later by his partner, Franz Schalk, who resented being left with many of the operational duties while Strauss was frequently away guest conducting or being feted as a great composer. When the political situation in Europe became malignant in the 1930s, profound political naïveté led to Strauss' confused involvement the Nazi propaganda machine, and the composer eventually alienated both the Nazis and their opponents. With the end of World War II, however, he was permitted to resume his professional life, although it would be a mere echo of his previous fame. He began to have serious health problems, his financial situation had been compromised, and the monuments that embodied great German art for him -- Goethe's Weimar house; the Dresden, Munich, and Vienna opera houses -- had been destroyed. Throughout his last years, works such as the Oboe Concerto (1945) and the gorgeously expressive FOUR LAST SONGS (1948) attest to Strauss' unwavering confidence in his singular musical voice.”
"Enrico Mainardi's talents were nurtured from an early age. He was given a small cello at the age of three, had his initial lessons a year later, and made his recital début at the age of eight, playing a Beethoven sonata. His father put him into the bruising life of a touring child prodigy at that point, touring Europe. When he appeared in Bologna, his accompanist was the esteemed Italian composer Ottorino Respighi. He débuted in London at the age of 13 at a Promenade Concert conducted by Sir Henry Wood. One of the most important of his early appearances was at the Bach-Reger Festival in Heidelberg, where he astonished the audience with his playing of the Cello Suite in C major by Bach. He was 16 at the time.
In 1924 he went to Berlin to study with one of the leading teachers of the day, Hugo Becker. He was able to re-establish his concert career and this time he added performance in chamber music to his activities. He made notable solo appearances in recital and with the leading orchestras and conductors. In 1933, he was appointed professor of cello at Santa Cecilia and in 1941, succeeded his teacher Becker at the Hochschule für Musik in Berlin on the latter's death. It took him a while to re-establish his career internationally after World War II. He became especially known for his chamber music performances. He extended his fame in Germany through much of the rest of Europe. He insisted that his pupils learn the entire score for whatever pieces they were playing, not just their own part. This included knowing what all the instruments of the orchestra were doing at any given moment in a concerto.
Mainardi was a charismatic performer with very handsome looks and a flair for dressing well. He said he chose his clothing for a concert with a view to what was appropriate for the particular music. Despite this, he did not indulge in platform histrionics to showcase the music or its particular difficulties. His repertoire was especially known for its high quality and intellectual content. Thus, he became known as a reserved performer lacking showmanship, which was, by all accounts, at odds with his off-stage personality. Consequently, he went into history as a musician's musician, rather than a crowd-pleasing one."
- Joseph Stevenson, allmusic.com
“Each of these disks, from Canadian engineer Yves St Laurent… [feature] St Laurent's natural transfer – made without filtering, like all his dubbings – it is easy to listen to, despite the surface noise.”
- Tully Potter, CLASSICAL RECORD QUARTERLY, Summer, 2011