About Richard Strauss, Don Quichote
and a Dragonfly





















Although I knew of the existence of Audioquest's Dragonfly for quite some time, I did only buy this small D-A converter a couple of months ago and have enjoyed the working of it greatly ever since. While working on my pc I can listen to the radio (news, discussions, and music) and YouTube of course. A friend of mine has the same Dragonfly 1.2 to enjoy YouTube and Spotify. Now he even has two Spotify accounts. Why not!

I listen to my audio system with turntable and Dragonfly if the talking or the music do not distract me too much.

I have this recording of Lorne Munroe (cellist) and William Lincer (violist) with Leonard Bernstein conducting the New York Philharmonic in Richard Strauss's Don Quixote, Columbia M 30067 from 1972. The design of the cover is by Tony Lane. The cover art is by Zevi Blum.

This recording has always been one of my favorite performances of Don Quixote, next to the Fournier-Karajan-Deutsche Grammophon disc SLPM 139 009 of which I have the later issue on 2535 195 also. Just for comparison.

I mostly play Side Two that starts with the loud and nervous orchestral sound of Variation IV, indicated by Strauss as "Somewhat broader - Unhappy adventure with a procession of pilgrims" (Etwas breiter - Unglückliches Abenteuer mit einer Prozession von Büßern"). After this short Variation, "Sancho sleeps, but the Don keeps vigil about his weapons. A vision of Dulcinea appears, clothed in fantastic glissandos of the harp" as the liner notes on M 30067 says.

I checked YouTube for performances of Don Quichote. I even checked for the music Michel Legrand composed for the BBC 'Play of the Month' from 1973, made after Miguel de Cervantes y Saavedra (novel).

I struck gold, the live performance of cellist Pablo Ferrández with Dennis Russell Davies conducting the Orquesta Sinfónica de Galicia. The viola is played by Francisco Regozo. The work was performed in the Palacio de la Ópera de A Coruńa. Sound and video are excellently recorded.

I started with "Side Two" of course, that is at 22 minutes into the video, there starts the 4th Variation. And it was immediately clear that this really is a breathtaking and moving performance. Davies is a meticulous conductor. The playing of the orchestra is superb. And the young Pablo Ferrández knows exactly how to reveal, with compassion, the various moods in this fantastic and modern work - modern because it lets us hear a pre-echo of Béla Bartók's Concerto for Orchestra at 23 minutes into the video. The impact is of the performance is enhanced by the quality of the video registration. All variations are wonderfully executed. And how well is the finale, the farewell to life and dreams, portrayed by cellist, orchestra and conductor. The audience was mesmerized. And you will be too, I suspect. And do listen also to the first 22 minutes. And also check out the newly released CD recording Ferrández made of the Dvorak and Schumann Concertos.

This is the link:

Or just type:

ferrandez strauss

That's all.

And since the installation many that were already my favorites were now sounding with a new impact. David Zinman conducting the Berlin Philharmonic (part of the Second Movement of Beethoven's 7th), Bernard Haitink and Leif Ove Andsnes in Brahms (just for the moment the horn comes in), and the live performance by Emil Gilels and Eugen Jochum of Brahms's Piano Concerto No. 2, also in the Concertgebouw, Brother can you spare a dime performed by Dr. John and Odetta and visualized by 'Spadecaller'), Earl Klugh at the Java Jazz Festival 2013, Alfred Cortot explaining "The poet speaks" (Der Dichter spricht / Le poète parle), Ella Fitzgerald singing Angel Eyes in the Amsterdam Concertgebouw in 1957, etc. etc.

I wish you good listening.

April 12, 2015

The technical details of the Audioquest Dragonfly can be found on the web, if you did not know them already.

Audio&Music Bulletin - Rudolf A. Bruil, Editor - Copyright 1998-2015 by Rudolf A. Bruil and co-authors