I love that symphony and thoroughly enjoyed last April's performance at the RFH with Jurowski conducting the LPO. I also have several favourite recordings headed by Karajan (of course - ever the master of Strauss), Thielemann with the VPO, a young Mehta with the Los Angeles Phil and the outlier - but a wonderful disc in terms of both sound and artistry - Frank Shipway with the Sao Paulo SO.
I'm afraid I become impatient with people whose critical responses to music are influenced by imaginary or even real political associations, such as Nazism with Wagner; if we were forever taking the moral temperature of artists few would survive the scrutiny - although I have to accept, and be sensitive regarding, that for some there will be inescapable associations, especially in the link between Hitler's preferences and his persecution - and worse - of Jewish musicians.
I certainly don't care whether that symphony is programmatic travel music; for me it is enormously stirring and powerful, arousing a whole gamut of emotions. In fact, the older I get, the more I enjoy listening to the grandiose excesses of Strauss in general; I rate his finest operas with the best and the half dozen great tone poems as jewels of the late Romantic repertoire. That doesn't mean that I can no longer appreciate the refinements of Bach or Rameau, but when I want a wallow...
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