Richard Strauss: Also Sprach Zarathustra, Till Eulenspiegel
Lorin Maazel, conductor
I was pleasantly surprised to discover that this album is a fantastic record, both for its repertoire as well as its sound quality. Here is a young Lorin Maazel with the Philharmonia Orchestra giving exciting interpretations of two well known Richard Strauss tone poems. I never really listened to the Strauss tone poems growing up, but lately I've come to really appreciate them (my favorite has to be Death and Transfiguration, or Tod und Verklarung in German). When it comes to Also Sprach, I think many classical vinyl collectors think about the Reiner 1954 RCA Living Stereo version being a reference (and the very first stereo recording of this work), alongside other recordings by Karajan with the Vienna Philharmonic (the one actually used in the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey) and Zubin Mehta, both on Decca. I have never owned the Reiner recording in its vinyl incarnation, but I have the SACD release which came out in the early 2000s. I can only imagine that the vinyl version is even more stunning. This Maazel recording has been out of print for a long time, but when I last checked Amazon.com this morning, it appears that at least the Also Sprach has been issued on 24-bit remastered CD. Cover art is entirely different from this one (I think it is the cover from the US Angel release), which is too bad, because this cover with Maazel mid-air conducting is cooler and classier. Sound quality for this LP is excellent on my system. Be sure to turn up the volume when the neighbors are away. Runs for around $50-100 for an excellent or near mint copy on Ebay.