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Strauss: Ariadne auf Naxos Original recording remastered, Box set
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Top Customer Reviews
The cast could not possibly be bettered anywhere: Elizabeth Schwartzkopf in the title role, Rita Streich as the coquette, Zerbinetta, (with an unbelievably difficult aria that reaches the stratosphere) and Irmgard Seefried as the put-upon Composer were all Strauss veterans and obviously came to this recording at the peek of their powers. In the heroic and vocally punishing role of "Bacchus," Rudolf Schock is fine. The Philharmonia Orchestra plays this lush music beautifully and the sound for 1957 does not get in the way. No, it doesn't compare to the spectacular sound of the much more recent recording on Philips starring Jessye Norman, but it never detracts.
This is a gorgeous recording of wonderful, memorable music set to a clever libretto. Buying one recording of the work? This is the way to go.
In the title role, Schwarzkopf turns in a wonderful performance of a role she never sang onstage. Walter Legge, her husband and producer of the recording, wrote years later that she "hankered" after the role but circumstances always prevented it from going into her stage repertory. Her "lieder" style of operatic singing is well suited to the nuances of the part and her singing of Ariadne's first lament is very moving. In contrast, she turns makes an appropriate comic impression with her limited appearance as the haughty prima donna of the prologue. If you are allergic to her style, you won't care much for it, because it is a textbook example of how she brought a character to life through verbal nuance and vocal color. She was also still in her 30s at the time and in fresh voice. Other sopranos, Janowitz and Norman for instance, have brought a fuller timbre to Ariadne's demanding music but Schwarzkopf's artistry and finespun tone are treasurable in their own right.
Irmgard Seefried's Composer is probably her finest achievement on disc and my favorite traversal of the part. It is a wonderful memento of a great singer.
Rita Streich is an expert and comic Zerbinetta who sails easily through the fiendish coloratura of her big aria. She is also seductive in the prologue and the mainspring of the ensembles. No matter the difficulties of the part, she never loses the sweetness of her youthful tone.
Rudolf Shock does as well as the recorded competition as Bacchus, Frey and King possibly excepted.Read more ›
1954 Karajan (EMI) - The Karajan set hasn't been out of print for over fifty years, and its two biggest pluses are unarguable: a dream cast of hand-picked singers and the young Karajan's superb conducting. Schwarzkopf gives one of her greatest performances in the title role, a miracle of technique and characterization. All the other roles match hers in theatricalaity and freshness. Rita Streich amazes with her accuracy and briliance in the coloratura role of Zerbinetta. The weak link (this will become a familiar theme) is the tenor who must engage the voice-killing role of Bacchus. Rudolf Schock sounds tight and strained, but overall he's doing as good a job as all but the very best.
The minues are few, consisting mainly of the boxy, dry mono sound that remastering can't disguise. At least EMI has managed to remove some shirlliness from the high frequencies, and one can say that the final product is quite listenable.
1987 Levine (DG) - I am skipping ovver a Sixties recording under Kempe (EMI) that some critics rate very high. I much prefer James Levine, who made the first recording of Ariadne on CD. He leads members of the Vienna Phil. in a sweet-toned, deliberately paced reading that is quite sumptuous. His cast mirrors a very good night at either the Met or the Vienna State Opera. Tomova-Sintov gives her all dramatically as Ariadne, and despite some vocal strain, she triumphs in the role of the vulnerable stranded heroine.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I would call this recording of Ariadne auf Naxos 'old fashioned' in that it is very slow and delicate and cast with singers who, in the modern world of Strauss performance would be... Read morePublished 14 months ago by pekinman
This, I think, is the definitive recording and while Schwarzkopf is as good as ever Irmgard Seefried is radiant. Should be in everyone's collection.Published on December 29, 2010 by tomofbath
I have heard this recording several times and I still cannot find any drama here. No uplifting introspective singing in "Es gibt ein Reich", no fun when the troupe comes in right... Read morePublished on July 19, 2009 by Erik Aleksander Moe
Esta grabación de Ariadne auf Naxos, es uno de los máximos logros del exitosísimo productor Walter Legge para el sello discográfico EMI en los... Read morePublished on January 24, 2007 by P. Emilio Rossi
This cast is perfection. "Ariadne" is absolutely musically gorgeous in spite of the silly story.Published on January 9, 2007 by Margaret Anderson
No tengo muchas palabras para expresar la genialidad interpretativa de esta grabación. Sólo escuchen el diálogo entre el Compositor y Zerbineta del... Read morePublished on April 14, 2005 by Fight Free
He escuchado algunas grabaciones de la ópera Ariadna auf Naxos, entre ellas, la realizada por Sinopoli, y ninguna me ha cautivado como la de Herbert von Karajan. Read morePublished on April 14, 2005 by Lost Way
4 stars and not 5 for two reasons only, the first it is a fine recording for its age but not up to today's standards. Read morePublished on March 27, 2002 by Mr. DAVID Geer