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The BPO plays Strauss


Strauss, "Ariadne Auf Naxos" and "Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme Suite" performed by the Buffalo Philharmonic conducted by JoAnn Falletta (Naxos)

Few gifts to the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra have ever -- or will ever -- exceed these two: the arrival of JoAnn Falletta as conductor and the orchestra's contract with Naxos Records. As fine as it was to have the BPO record with Columbia (resulting in the milestone Complete Music of Carl Ruggles with Michael Tilson Thomas), the Naxos contract has not only rendered the orchestra prolific now on record but has identified the orchestra as an entirely different kind of orchestra than we were used to thinking of it.

It has been Naxos' project that the BPO is a purveyor of "big music," specifically late Romantic orchestral music. Here, in its fine recent record, we have Strauss' "Ariadne Auf Naxos" transformed by D. Wilson Ochoa into an Orchestra Suite and Strauss' "Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme" Suite -- named from the play by Moliere but very much indebted to the music of Lully.

Falletta calls this recording of Strauss music from 1912 a "dream project" and says Ochoa's arrangement of "Ariadne" is music of "extreme beauty and sensuous luxury, studded with gorgeous instrumental solos and the composer's incomparable blend of  poignancy, humor, whimsy and melodic richness." Nothing is ever likely to exceed the impact of Falletta and the BPO's almost shocking recording of Gliere's "Ilya Murometz" Symphony No. 3 in orchestral splendor on disc but this recording is formidable.

3 1/2 stars (out of four)

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