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Strauss: Elektra Hybrid SACD - DSD

3 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Hybrid SACD - DSD, July 10, 2012
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

On this new set from LSO Live, Valery Gergiev conducts Strauss' Elektra, one of the most powerful operas in the repertoire, accompanied by a superlative cast. Premiered in 1910 at Covent Garden, under the baton of Sir Thomas Beecham, Elektra is a prime example of Strauss' finest melodic writing. It showcases many, of what were at the time, modernist techniques such as dissonance, chromaticism and fluid tonality. The one-act Greek tragedy was reconstructed by Hugo von Hofmannsthal, and his adapted text forms the libretto for the opera. The drama centers on Elektra and her determination to avenge her father's death. The themes of death, violence, sexual repression and revenge are omnipresent. American soprano Jeanne-Michele Charbonnet is recognized as a leading force in German and contemporary music repertoire. She has appeared at the Opera National de Paris, Teatro Real, Deutsche Oper, Teatro La Fenice, and the Teatro Comunale di Firenze. Angela Denoke and Dame Felicity Palmer both possess outstanding pedigrees in Strauss' operas. They are joined by outstanding Lieder specialist Matthias Goerne, making a rare foray into operatic repertoire.

Review

''A thrilling, often revelatory performance, alive to every intense and modernistic gesture. Valery Gergiev finds both great colour and emotional depth in the music... the London Symphony Orchestra on superb form... First-class sound and presentation.'' --Time Out (UK)
  • Sample this album Artist - Artist (Sample)
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Disc 2
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Product Details

  • Orchestra: London Symphony Orchestra
  • Conductor: Valery Gergiev
  • Composer: Richard Strauss
  • Audio CD (July 10, 2012)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: Hybrid SACD - DSD
  • Label: Lso Live
  • ASIN: B0081MEDC0
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #211,186 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
This recording is a disappointment on so many fronts. Mathias Goerne and Dame Felicity Palmer are stand-outs as Orest and Klytamnestra, respectively, but their parts are small. Moreover, a recording of this opera tends to stand or fall on the shoulders of the title character, and Jeanne-Michelle Charbonnet's shoulders are weak indeed. For example, the opening aria, in which she mourns Agamemnon, should be wrenching or at least moving; it is neither. The same goes for the recognition scene and the final scene.

Unfortunately, Gergiev's conducting is equally blah. Where is the passionate - sometimes too-passionate - Gergiev of old? Has success made him complacent? I was expecting a gut-wrenching performance, but all I got was a slightly overwrought lullaby.

Don't waste your money - either the Solti/Nilsson classic or the wonderful Sinopoli/Marc/Voigt recording are easily available. And if you want something completely different, try the Jochum recording with Erna Schlüter, recorded in Hamburg in 1944 - it's grisly and creepy and fabulous.
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Format: Audio CD
After struggling through this recording from the LSO series of live performances - this one of a performance of Richard Strauss' ELEKTRA - one can only ask why? It looks on paper as though this should be a stunner with Valery Gergiev on the podium, he being the conductor that can generate as much passion and thunder and lightning as anyone these days. But this is for the most part a bland performance, sounding more like a bow to the aging soprano voices who once could do this opera and now have tired.

The first disappointing aspect of the 'recital' is the astonishing powerful voice and intensity of characterization of American soprano Jeanne-Michele Charbonnet in the title role. She is dramatic and convincing in her delivery but the voice itself is shrill and edgy and, well, tiresome. If she is able to harness her innate powers and beautify her sound then she will be a Straussian singer of importance. She is associated here with a tired sounding Angela Denoke as Chrysothemis: it sounds like she knows where she wants to take a line, but just doesn't have the capacity to fill the intentions. And then there is the saving presence of Felicity Palmer as Klytemnestra who sings with great distinction and intelligence. That leaves the role of Orest - and Matthias Goerne is able to be radiant in the few areas of exposure he has.

This is one of the LSO 'contributions that should have been reconsidered. Try it on a few MP3 samples and make your own decision. Grady Harp, September 12
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Again and again the same question is asked. Can a cast led by a Russian conductor and with mainly Russian support staff, an American lead singer, only two Germans, and a British orchestra do well such a highly specialized job as performing a German opera?
Why not? Accents aside, it should be doable. The music is the same, the lyrics are there, the orchestra is first class.
My only reference point for Elektra is Sinopoli/Marc/Voight/Jerusalem/Ramey DG (1997). Comparing to this recording, Gergiev is firmly in control but the rest of the cast may seem largely missing at a first glance. There seem to be not enough power, depth, and agitation. One can observe sincere attempts to achieve them, but claim that attempts are not enough for this one of the most dramatically demanding operas.
I remember listening to Sinopoli (with also quite a few non-German singers) when I could not go beyond disc 1 for some time, which ends with "Ich habe keine guten Nachte" duet, and kept on returning the the beginning to listen it again, so profound my impression was. In the case of Gergiev, the whole opera easily went down in one go, with no temptation to return to key moments. Why it was the case?
My answer is that Gergiev's approach to this opera is very different from Sinopoli's. The difference is like between Tchaikovsky's Waltz of Flowers and Wagner's Funeral March. Gergiev emphasizes the human nature of all protagonists, their intrinsic vulnerabilities, and multiple imperfections. And this approach is diametrically different form Sinopoli's version, which is very German, powerful, and self-centric, and makes the whole opera sound unusual, clearly not the way we accustomed to hear it.
All female singers (Ms. Charbonnet, Ms.
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Format: Audio CD
In general the operatic side of Gergiev's career, which seemed so successful when he was traversing the output of Prokofiev and Rimsky-Korsakov for Philips, has stumbled on LSO Live. Almost always the results have followed the same pattern: Gergiev whips up excitement with the orchestral part, the London Sym. plays magnificently, ensemble and discipline are as good as any studio recording, but the singers fall short. Even when the critics come to the rescue of his opera recordings, as they did for Parsifal and Lucia di Lammamoor, it was hard for me to hear the virtues they praised. In fact, Wagner from Gergiev remains problematic - a long banishment from the Mariinsky during the Soviet regime erased whatever Wagner tradition the theater had, and Gergiev's revival of the Ring and Parsifal struggle to find a convincing style.

I imagine that Strauss was banned, too, but this isn't a Mariinsky performance, and the musicians know how to play him, which leads to the best part of the new recording, the orchestral playing. Captured in quite good sound considering that the venue is Barbican Hall - an ugly duckling that would need demolition to turn into a swan, acoustically speaking - Elektra boasts an astonishing score that has not diminished over the decades. Its mixture of crunching dissonance and yearning melody can be presented as brutally as possible, the way Solti does it in his famous and yet to b3e surpassed Decca recording. Gergiev leans the other way, and he mostly succeeds, especially in the Recognition Scene between Elektra and Orest, but his reluctance to make the Agamemnon motif, announced in the very first bars, sound apocalyptic is a mistake, I think.

One gets the feeling that he is puling back to help his singers, and they need it.
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