BBC Music Magazine May 2013 Disc of the month
Strauss’s ‘Fantastic variations on a theme of knightly character’, as Don Quixote is subtitled, is one of the composer’s most popular tone poems, principally because of the beautifully drawn central characters of the Don (performed by a solo cellist) and Sancho Panza (viola). These roles are luxuriously cast in this new recording, being taken by Hyperion artists Alban Gerhardt and Lawrence Power. The merry tale of Till Eulenspiegel completes this release.
The Gürzenich-Orchester Köln, the very orchestra which gave the premieres of both works in the 1890s, is conducted by Markus Stenz, who has held the position of Principal Conductor since 2003. He visited China with the orchestra in early 2008 and conducted their first ever BBC Prom at the Royal Albert Hall in August 2008. In September 2010 he returned to China with the Gürzenich Orchestra and the Opera of Cologne to conduct the first ever production of Wagner’s ‘Ring’ in Shanghai. Among other posts he is Chief Guest Conductor of the Hallé.
Stenz gets the proportions exactly right. He plunges us into the delirium of the melancholy hero's addled brain with a clarity pointing forward to Schoenberg's First Chamber Symphony...Adventurous Alban Gerhardt is vivid as Quixote takes several tumbles...The peerless viola player Laurence Power is luxury casting as an equally human Sancho Panza. No stars needed to be drafted in for one of the best Till Eulenspiegels on disc...an irrepressible performance. BBC *****
pictorial points are in general well made; the scenes are colourfully set; and both Gerhardt and Power are such fine, sensitive and expressive musicians that they encapsulate the varied moods of their protagonists poignantly and purposefully. Markus Stenz attacks Till Eulenspiegel with vigour. Gramophone
an excellent account of Don Quixote. The catalogue isn’t exactly short of fine recordings but this one competes with the best. Gerhardt and Power are marvellous principals but they manage to project their characters splendidly while giving us a sense also that they are primus inter pares, as Strauss intended. MusicWeb