Richard Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier is among the greatest of love operas, not least because it's about renunciation as well as fulfilment, about being old as well as young. But long before a note is sung, the first minute of the orchestral overture has played out an entire sexual-romantic drama. Listen to the thrusting horn sounds associated with the 17-year-old Count Oktavian. Then hear the response of the sliding chromatic strings and woodwind associated with the Marschallin, his "older-woman" lover. Check out the growing excitement, the agitation of trills and crescendos, before the horns whoop in climax and the instrumental energy dies away with a long slow sigh. Try the legendary KarajanPhilharmonia recording: EMI Classics CMS 5 67605 2.
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