Alwin Bauer, cello Paul Schroer, viola Cologne Radio Symphony Orchestra Dmitri Mitropoulos, conductor
Recording: Saal 1, Funkhaus, Cologne, 7 September 1959
The Greek born Dmitri Mitropoulos (1896-1960) was a musical phenomenon, composing at the age of 11, a virtuoso pianist whose live performances and recording of Prokofiev's Piano Concert No. 3 caused a sensation. As a conductor he led the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra from 1937 to 1949, a seminal period in the orchestra's history before moving on as Music Director of the New York Philharmonic from 1949 to a shared conductorship with his protégé, Leonard Bernstein from 1957/1958 to be replaced by the latter in 1959. Mitropoulos was by this time conducting regularly with the Berlin Philharmonic, Vienna Philharmonic, Concertgebouw and the Cologne Radio Symphony Orchestra before ill health finally caused his death in 1960 while conducting the La Scala orchestra in Mahler's Symphony No. 3.
Mitropoulos was a superb conductor of Richard Strauss as his regular Salzburg concerts with the Vienna Philharmonic testify. The WDR live studio recordings use only the original masters and the sound is sensational, particularly in Strauss's powerful and atmospheric Also Sprach Zarathustra. Don Quixote demonstrates Mitropoulos's acute sense of tone painting and characterization.