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R. Strauss Audio CD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (February 24, 2009)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Capriccio
  • ASIN: B001ND9BNU
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #416,479 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Varnay had-a da voice! February 19, 2012
This appears to be a reissue so I have copied my review from the first release.

As Luisa Tetrazzini said "either ya gott-a da voice or ya don't gott-a da voice" Varnay had-a da voice. The only regret I have is that this performance takes cuts, as almost all do but it would have been great to hear Varnay sing the whole "Was bluten muss?" Does anyone out there know if Varnay every did a studio recording of Elektra, if so I would really like to have a copy. Rysnaek is young here and sounds like a younger sister and already has the part all sewed up. I heard the Solti recording first and listened to it a hundred times before trying other conductors and Kraus does have a different take on the music than Solti but I now find it is interesting to hear different versions. One of the main parts I listen for is the end of "Was bluten muss?" where Elektra sings "der jauchtz" most singers disappear into the orchasrta here, only Nilsson and Varnay can be distinctly heard.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As intense as any, despite the mono sound March 2, 2014
The Expressionist cacophonies of "Elektra" are not for everybody but even relatively conservative operaphiles like me can find themselves absorbed and fascinated by it. Alongside the shrieking excesses may be heard all kinds of subtleties when Strauss opts to forego using one of the biggest orchestras in opera and employ reduced forces. Still, you won't find yourself whistling many of the tunes apart from the three-note - or four-note, depending on how Strauss uses it - D-A-F-D motif that opens, recurs throughout and closes the opera: "A-ga-mem-non!"

The sound is so good on the re-mastered tape of this Westdeutschen Rundfunks studio recording made in Cologne in 1953 that one quickly forgets this is mono; indeed, in sonic terms alone it can compete with and surpass live stereo recordings from the 50's; there is no hiss and remarkable depth of sound for mere mono. Unfortunately, there are some cuts but what remains is compelling.

Add to this Astrid Varnay's Elektra, malevolent, huge-voiced and laser-accurate with very little of the scooping which sometimes marred her line, and you have a recording to be reckoned with. I know nothing of the conductor, Richard Kraus, but he directs a powerful, deliberate, strong-limbed account of this terrifying opera and the Cologne Radio Orchestra sounds very competent, too, although they are recorded rather distantly, the voices being very forward.

The young Leonie Rysanek, eventually no stranger to the eponymous leading role herself, gives us an intense Chrysothemis, typically slightly husky and cloudy-voiced in the middle of her range but with great thrust and power; this is not the shrinking Violet sister we sometimes hear but a desperate, hysterical woman.
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