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Strauss: Famous Scenes

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Audio CD, February 13, 2001
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Product Details

  • Orchestra: Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra
  • Conductor: Solti, Karajan
  • Audio CD (February 13, 2001)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Polygram Records / Decca
  • ASIN: B00004U8FE
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #449,327 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Arabella: Aber der Richtige wenns einen gibt - Hilde Gueden
2. Ariadne auf Naxos: Es ist alles vergebens Es gibt ein Reich - Leontyne Price
3. Der Rosenkavalier: Mein Gott! Es warnicht mehr als eine Farce - Regine Crespin
4. Elektra: Allein! Weh ganz allein - Birgit Nilsson
5. Die Frau ohne Schatten: Sieh - Amme - sieh...Zum Lebenswasser!... Wehe mein Mann! - Leonie Rysanek
6. Salome: Salomes Tanz der sieben Schleier - Wiener Philharmoniker
7. Salome: Es ist keinLaut zu vernehmen - Anja Silja

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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Jason on April 14, 2001
For anyone wanting to try the operas of Richard Strauss, one need not look much further than this compilation of excerpts from several of his operas. As critics and academics have begun to take Strauss more seriously over the past decade or so (and been less likely to engage in politically-charged character assassination), even his formerly-neglected later works have received more performances and been recorded with greater frequency.
This compilation includes excerpts from some of those lesser-known operas, including "Arabella" (1933) and the increasingly better-known "Die Frau Ohne Schatten" (1919). Ironically, these are the oldest excerpts on the recording, including a crisp "Arabella" from 1957 with supreme Straussian conductor Georg Solti and supreme Straussian singer Lisa Della Casa, as well as a rough-sounding "Frau Ohne Schatten" excerpt from 1955 (but then, it's conducted by Strauss' friend Karl Bohm, which makes up for it). Solti also makes an appearance on this album for a 1979 recording of "Es Gibt ein Reich" from "Ariadne auf Naxos," which seems to have hovered for years in limbo between the three major Strauss operas and "lesser" Strauss works.
Although I like the other excerpts, my greatest affection is still reserved for those three major operas: Rosenkavalier, Elektra, and Salome. Solti returns to this recording for a third appearance (this time armed with Birgit Nilsson) for a thundering interpretation of Elektra's soliloquy over her father's grave, fantasizing about vengeance against her mother and her mother's love-toy for his murder. This excerpt comes from Solti's complete 1967 recording, for some reason no longer available in the States.
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This selection from 25 years of Decca/London archives provides a well-judged selection of both famous and lesser-known highlights from their many recordings of Richard Strauss major stage works. As Strauss focused on women singers, this disc almost completely consists of female leads. I will review the tracks one by one below but my general comment is that the performances are very high level, the music is mostly beautiful and the re-mastering is expert. So this compilation makes for an efficient way to dip your oars in the waters of Strauss opera or, if you are more experienced, to gain exposure to some new performances.

The tracks, in order:

Arabella: The best known number from this 1930s opera (“Aber der Richtige”) is placed first. This is the 1957 Lisa della Casa recording done with Georg Solti and soprano Hilda Gueden, not a slightly earlier Della Casa version. I think it is a nice recording of an attractive number. My heart will always be with the early 1950s Elisabeth Schwarzkopf recording but I enjoyed this one. All of the tracks here, with the exception of “Ariadne auf Naxos”, feature the Vienna Philharmonic, by the way.

Ariadne auf Naxos: An excerpt from the 1977 Leontyne Price release, this probably qualifies as the weakest performance on this disc. I have reviewed the entire Ariadne release on Amazon and gave it 4 stars. It is a decent performance overall – really marked by Edita Gruberova rather than Price – but not first rank.

Rosenkavalier: The famous Act III Trio with surrounding passages is presented here in a 20-minute track that forms the longest single item on this disc. This 1964 performance led by the great French soprano Regine Crespin as the Marschallin has been a discovery for me.
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4 of 8 people found the following review helpful By V. Chau on November 17, 2003
Richard Strauss wrote great operatic music, but his music is not as accessible as that of Puccini or Verdi. It will take some time getting used to listening to his more dissonant music, but it is worth it.
This is an excellent compilation disc from Decca. The sound on all the selections is good, but the excerpt from "Die Frau ohne Schatten" has dated sound. Decca provides a booklet that contains notes and texts with English translations. This is a big help in understanding the sung words.
The first excerpt is the glorious soprano duet from "Arabella", sung ravishingly by Lisa della Casa and Hilde Güden. These two sopranos soar over Strauss' exquisite orchestration. It is a delight to hear their ethereal upper registers. No other composer wrote better soaring music for sopranos to sing. Strauss was truly a master of this type of music. The excerpt from "Ariadne auf Naxos" is well sung by Leontyne Price. The fabulous trio from "Der Rosenkavalier" is sung ravishingly by Régine Crespin, Hilde Güden, and Elisabeth Söderström. Notice the clear German diction of these three singers. The music for this trio contains some ravishing string writing. Elektra's Monologue is sung magnificently by Birgit Nilsson. Her high notes, especially the high C at the end, are incredibly powerful and rock-steady. She inflects the aria superbly. You can really hear her longing for her dead father in her repeated cries of "Agamemnon". Leonie Rysanek is incredible in the Empress' Dream Sequence from "Die Frau ohne Schatten". The high tessitura poses no problem for her and she sings with smoldering involvement. Some of the orchestral music in this passage is positively gorgeous. Herbert von Karajan conducts a wonderful performance of the Dance of the Seven Veils.
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