Thomas Søndergård & RSNO - Strauss: Ein Heldenleben, Der Rosenkavalier Suite - BBC Radio 3 'Record Review'

William Mival: First I’ve gone for Thomas Søndergård’s new recording of Heldenleben and also the Strauss Rosenkavalier Suite with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. I mean this is a very nicely produced disc, a very nice booklet, it’s a very nice object in itself

Andrew McGregor: and always good to pay attention that isn’t it? That really helps before you start.

WM: Well I really like that, because it really makes me feel good about what I’m listening to actually if I’ve got something that feels very well prepared and very well laid out. And the same is also true of the performances. There’s a very effective and controlled account of Heldenleben and similarly a nicely controlled account of the Rosenkavalier Suite. I mean, the balance is meticulous, the shaping of everything is faultless, the recording is very, very good indeed but it’s all perhaps just a little bit cautious, a little bit restrained, I could do with a bit more - what would you call it – a bit more Viennese energy in this music, a bit more go. We do get something of that in the Rosenkavalier Suite which is a little bit more frothy, they’re a little bit more relaxed in it.

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A McG: I don’t want to fade out, that’s always a good sign isn’t it? The opening of the Rosenkavalier Suite from Richard Strauss’s opera – the new recording from the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and Music Director Thomas Søndergård. Actually Bill Mival, how hard is it to bring off a suite like this which is effectively just bleeding chunks from the orchestra and you know, do you miss the singers?

WM: I do miss the singers, but only because I know the opera so well and I love it so much. But I have to say in this performance he does bring it off. I mean you revel in the orchestral sounds here and it’s all done with enormous delicacy and this with this wonderful sense of craft and I think that’s something to really admire in it but I mean it’s difficult, you know these are great bleeding chunks from a really fantastic opera, but there’s another side.

A McG: You have to accept it on its own terms don’t you?

WM: You don’t have to pay huge amounts of money to hear it, you don’t have to spend four hours at the opera and you don’t have to plough your way through all this Viennese dialect. You get all the best bits.

A McG: A shortcut to the best bits. I have to say it’s an excellent recording as well - Glasgow Royal Concert Hall - you’ve got dynamic impact you’ve got depth, detail, air, it’s really good.

BBC Radio 3 'Record Review'
22 June 2019