Krauss's mastery of Strauss evident in these radio recordings
XR remastering produces truly fabulous sound quality from dusty 1950s originals
Reissue Review (1988)
No Strauss devotee will need prompting from me to acquire Clemens Krauss's interpretation of Melamorphosen. This elegiac masterpiece came to pass after the destruction of the Munich National Theatre by Allied bombs. Krauss at the time was the theatre's director. There, two years earlier, he had conducted the first performances of Capriccio. This music, therefore, spoke for him almost as poignantly as it did for Strauss and we can feel this empathy in his noble reading. The 1953 recording is bass-heavy and textures are not as clearly-defined as we expect today, nor are the Bamberg strings as silky and supple as those of the Berlin and Vienna orchestras, but they respond to Krauss's direction with eloquence and dignity
M.K., Gramophone magazine, September 1988 (link)
Divertimento (original sleevenotes)
Strauss' second Suite based on clavier pieces by Francois Couperin appeared as Opus 86, and entitled Divertimento. Its very existence is due to Krauss who first performed it in Munich in 1941 as a ballet called "Verklungene Feste". A concert performance, with Krauss conducting the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, followed in Vienna in 1943.
On January 4, 1941 Krauss wrote to Strauss: "Just back from Vienna to find the first Couperin instalment, and the second followed today. I am so glad you have augmented the Suite for us, and I thank you with all my heart for all the trouble you have taken over it. The scoring of the individual pieces is absolutely masterly, and their contrasted sequence is most effective".
Philips LP GL 5843
Notes on the recordings:
These recordings were made in the studios of Bavarian Radio for broadcast in the early 1950s, and emerged on 1960s LPs from Philips. The notes to one of these discs includes the following text: "These recording [sic.] were not made expressly for the gramophone, yet even if the recording quality does not come up to the standard of perfection one is accustomed to nowadays, it seemed well worth while rescuing them from the oblivion of radio archives, in the belief that the public will be eager to appreciate the authenticity of performances by a conductor so intimately connected with Richard Strauss."
My aim in applying modern 32-bit XR remastering techniques to these recordings, was to do away with Philips' "recording quality" caveat as much as is now possible, and I'm glad to say that in all three cases major improvements in sound quality have been achieved. Gone is the boxy, veiled tone of the originals, and in its place is a full, clear sound that would bear comparison to the finest recordings of the era.
Notes from Wikipedia
Krauss was born in Vienna, the out-of-wedlock child of Clementine Krauss, then a 15-year-old dancer in the Vienna Imperial Opera Ballet, later a leading actress and operetta singer, who was a niece of the prominent nineteenth-century operatic soprano, Gabrielle Krauss (1842-1904). His natural father, the chevalier Hector Baltazzi (1851-1916),belonged to a family of wealthy Phanariot bankers resident in Vienna. Baltazzi's older sister Helene was married to Baron Albin Vetsera and was the mother of Baroness Mary Vetsera, who was thus Clemens Krauss' first cousin.
As a boy, Krauss was a chorister in the Hofkapelle (Imperial Choir). He attended the Vienna Conservatory, graduating in 1912. He studied composition with Hermann Graedener and theory with Richard Heuberger. After graduation he was chorus master in the Brno Theater (1912-1913). There he made his conducting debut in 1913. The famous Romanian soprano Viorica Ursuleac, with whom he often performed, was his second wife.
Krauss made the rounds of regional centers, conducting in Riga (1913-1914), Nuremberg (1915), and Stettin (1916-1921), now known as Szczecin. The latter appointment gave him ample opportunity to travel to Berlin to hear Arthur Nikisch conduct the Berlin Philharmonic, a major influence. Krauss's next post was back in Austria, where he became director of the opera and symphony concerts in Graz. In 1922 he joined the conducting staff of the Vienna State Opera and teacher of the conducting class at the State Academy of Germany. In 1923 he became conductor of the Vienna Tonkünstler Concerts until 1927, and Intendant of the opera in Frankfurt am Main and director of the Museum Concerts in 1924, until 1929.
Krauss visited the United States in 1929, conducting in Philadelphia and with the New York Philharmonic. Also in 1929 he became director of the Vienna State Opera. Its orchestra, in its independent concert form as the Vienna Philharmonic, appointed him its music director in 1930. He was a regular conductor at the Salzburg Festival from 1926 to 1934. In 1930 he conducted Alban Berg's Wozzeck.
In 1933 and 1934 Krauss gave up his Vienna positions, becoming director of the Berlin State Opera in 1935 after Erich Kleiber resigned in protest over Nazi rule. In 1933 he took over the preparations for the premieres of Strauss's Arabella when the conductor Fritz Busch (another non-Jewish anti-Nazi) left. Krauss's own position on Nazism was unclear, although he enjoyed a close relationship with Nazi official Alfred Frauenfeld and it has been claimed that he sought Nazi Party membership in 1933. In 1937 he was appointed Intendant of the National Theatre Munich, following the resignation there of Hans Knappertsbusch. He became a close friend of Richard Strauss, for whom he wrote the libretto to the opera Capriccio which he premiered in Munich in 1942. Also, he conducted the premieres of Strauss's operas Friedenstag and Die Liebe der Danae. During the early 1940s he taught at the Mozarteum University of Salzburg where among his pupils was composer Roman Toi.
After the Munich opera house was bombed, shutting it down, Krauss returned to conduct the Vienna Philharmonic until it closed shortly before the end of the War (1944-45). After the War, Allied officials investigated his pro-Nazi activities and because of them forbade him from appearing in public until 1947. They also found that he had frequently acted to assist a number of individual Jews escape the Third Reich machine. When his ban was lifted he resumed frequently conducting the Vienna Philharmonic, including its famous New Year's Day concerts.
Following Krauss's rehabilitation he conducted at Covent Garden in London from 1951 and the Bayreuth Festival in 1953. He died during a visit to Mexico City, and is now buried along with his wife, who died in 1985, in Ehrwald, Austria.
He did not make many recordings; but his 1950 performance of Johann Strauss II's Die Fledermaus, made in Vienna, is still regarded by some as the best one. His 1953 live performance of Richard Wagner's Ring Cycle from Bayreuth is highly regarded. A performance with the Vienna Symphony of Beethoven's Choral Fantasy, reissued on more than one inexpensive label since its original appearance on Vox Records, is also one of the few recordings featuring pianist Friedrich Wührer available on compact disc.
From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clemens_Krauss