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Elektra

Astrid Varnay , Leonie Rysanek , Hans Hotter , Richard Strauss , R. Kraus , et al. Audio CD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
Price: £14.59 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Product details

  • Orchestra: KölneRundfunk Synfonie-Orchester & Chor
  • Conductor: R. Kraus
  • Composer: Richard Strauss
  • Audio CD (1 May 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 Bestsellers Rank: 146,642 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Product Description

Opéra en un acte / Leonie Rysanek, Astrid Varnay, Hans Hotter, Helmut Melchert... - Kölner Rundfunkchor - Kölner Rundfunk-Sinfonie-Orchester - Joseph Keilberth, direction

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As intense as any, despite the mono sound 2 Mar 2014
By Ralph Moore TOP 50 REVIEWER
Verified Purchase
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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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic 1953 Elektra! 14 July 2009
By Mr. Mark A. Meldon TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Verified Purchase
This performance of Elektra has been available on CD before, or so I understand, but this incarnation from Capriccio is excellent.

Recorded in mono in August 1953 under the baton of Richard (not Clemens) Kraus, we have the great Astrid Varnay as Elektra and Leonie Rysanek as Chrysothemis. Hans Hotter is here, too. Very much a tour-de-force for the women, this recording must rank alongside the much better-known Solti Decca recording from the 1960s. The Kolner Rundfunk Symphony play Strauss' ravishing score very well.

Unlike other CD versions, Capriccio has had access to the original studio tapes (this is "live in the studio" and there are a couple of audible tape splices). The sound quality, often ropey on these old opera recordings, is, frankly, astonishing. There is little or no hiss and, all-in-all, this CD sounds better than some SACD sets in my collection.

Capriccio only provides very basic notes and there is no libretto.

Brilliant singing and playing all for a very reasonable price. Strongly recommended to Strauss lovers!
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Varnay had-a da voice! 19 Feb 2012
By T. Dreiling - Published on Amazon.com
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.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As intense as any, despite the mono sound 2 Mar 2014
By Ralph Moore - Published on Amazon.com
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.

Res Fischer is a dark-voiced, tortured, slightly matronly Klytämnestra who does not exaggerate but still conveys the character's paranoia through her detailed enunciation of the text; her "sleepless nights" monologue is eerily haunting. All three leading ladies have big, juicy, penetrating voices able to pierce Strauss's denser orchestration - although much of the time there is that chamber-music quality which Kraus's clear, unmannered presentation renders as oddly and perversely beautiful.

Smaller roles are very persuasively sung; Hotter as Orestes is wonderfully sepulchral, although having one of his hoarse-hay-fever days; he presents a really imposing presence whose arrival and gnomic pronouncements intensify the pall of foreboding hanging over one of opera's most dysfunctional households.

Obviously the classic analogue stereo version by Nilsson and Solti, and the two digital recordings by Sinopoli and Sawallisch, will provide more aural thrills but admirers of Varnay and Rysanek in particular will want this.
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