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In Brief: The Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra

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Carnegie Hall is presenting programs of extraordinary depth and scope this season, but apparently even this noble institution feels that opening night is no time to challenge audiences with tough fare. Besides, since the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra under Lorin Maazel was in town and the fiftieth anniversary of Richard Strauss's death is at hand, what could be more appropriate than a deluxe evening of that composer's favorite showpieces? And it was all very luscious -- no other orchestra, no matter who happens to be in charge, serves up Strauss with more generosity or calorie-rich helpings than the VPO. Perhaps with Maazel on the podium the musicians were encouraged to inject extra amounts of melodrama into Also Sprach Zarathustra, impish fun into Till Eulenspiegel, and sheer schmaltz into a suite from Der Rosenkavalier. More tightly organized sonorities and sharper instrumental definition might have been nice, too, but why quibble? Strauss seldom sounds quite as sumptuous as this.


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