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Strauss, R - Salomé CD


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Product details

  • Orchestra: Italian International Orchestra
  • Conductor: Massimiliano Caldi
  • Composer: Richard Strauss
  • Audio CD (30 Jun 2008)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Dynamic
  • ASIN: B0018J91PC
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 628,958 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Product Description

DYN 572; DYNAMIC - Italia;

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ralph Moore TOP 50 REVIEWER on 5 Mar 2014
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Previous reviewer Stewart Crowe has already provided a full, accurate and very useful appraisal of this rarity. As a devotee of this opera, I could not resist the chance of hearing it in this French language revival version, set to Oscar Wilde's original script; a libretto with an English translation is provided to help the listener appreciate the differences between the German version with which Strauss aficionados are familiar.

I was immediately grateful for the quality of the live sound, the assured playing of the excellent orchestra assembled for the festival, the drive and purpose of Maestro Caldi's swift tempi and his sense of the dramatic and, above all, the very acceptable standard of singing. However, although this performance is indeed very well sung and acted, the biggest drawback is the very Italianate French employed; mispronunciations are legion, beginning with everyone bar one singer insisting on pronouncing "Princesse" as "Pron-cesse" instead of "Pran-cesse" and the usual Italian difficulties with the French "me" pronounced as "may". "Fille" is italianised as "feelya", closer to the Italian "figlia", and so on; what a pity that they didn't hire a French coach to iron this out - I would happily have done it in return for board and lodging...

OK; enough precious linguistic moaning; let's acknowledge the many virtues here. This is a really gripping performance, running to only 95 minutes but not sounding rushed, just tense. Orchestral highlights such as the dance and the Interlude before Herod's entrance are beautifully gauged and the appearance of Joakanaan's head on a platter held aloft by the executioner as he exits the cistern is riveting, chilling, explosive - as it should be.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I thought I knew pretty well all there was to know about this work with which I have been obsessed (one of SO many!) for more years than I care to admit-but I was wrong. When the Nagano recording of Salomé -the French version of the Strauss Opera-appeared in the 90's, I dismissed it as merely a translation of the work with a few added notes to accommodate the French Language in the manner of Wagner and the Paris version of Tannhauser and declined to buy it!

Only recently did I discover that what Strauss composed for the 1905 was in fact a complete rewrite of the score using the original play by Oscar Wilde-written in French of course-as the text, with the editorial assistance of his long time friend Romain Rolland. The play differs considerably from the freely adapted and translated libretto by Hedwig Lachmann, and Strauss took the opportunity to effectively compose a new work, as he put it, in the manner of Debussy's Pelleas et Melisande and which he felt would be more acceptable to a French audience than his post-Wagnerian German version.
He reduced the orchestration and not only re-scored the entire work, but re-composed more than half of the music to suit more acerbic text of the play. This version was later superseded by a basic French translation of Lachmann's libretto to Strauss's original score, and lay forgotten until rediscovered in the 1980's in the Munich archives!

Thus intrigued, I made to buy the Nagano recording only to find it deleted and unavailable other than through special order-so I took a punt and opted for this, the only other version available and featuring artists unknown to me.

Revelatory is a word I over use, but this recording is genuinely that in EVERY respect!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 2 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A different, very successful take on this fascinating opera 5 Mar 2014
By Ralph Moore - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Previous reviewer Stewart Crowe has already provided a full, accurate and very useful appraisal of this rarity. As a devotee of this opera, I could not resist the chance of hearing it in this French language revival version, set to Oscar Wilde's original script; a libretto with an English translation is provided to help the listener appreciate the differences between the German version with which Strauss aficionados are familiar.

I was immediately grateful for the quality of the live sound, the assured playing of the excellent orchestra assembled for the festival, the drive and purpose of Maestro Caldi's swift tempi and his sense of the dramatic and, above all, the very acceptable standard of singing. However, although this performance is indeed very well sung and acted, the biggest drawback is the very Italianate French employed; mispronunciations are legion, beginning with everyone bar one singer insisting on pronouncing "Princesse" as "Pron-cesse" instead of "Pran-cesse" and the usual Italian difficulties with the French "me" pronounced as "may". "Fille" is italianised as "feelya", closer to the Italian "figlia", and so on; what a pity that they didn't hire a French coach to iron this out - I would happily have done it in return for board and lodging...

OK; enough precious linguistic moaning; let's acknowledge the many virtues here. This is a really gripping performance, running to only 95 minutes but not sounding rushed, just tense. Orchestral highlights such as the dance and the Interlude before Herod's entrance are beautifully gauged and the appearance of Joakanaan's head on a platter held aloft by the executioner as he exits the cistern is riveting, chilling, explosive - as it should be. The orchestra manages to sound a little grainy in true French style -appropriately, given that Strauss was recognising Debussy's idiom in his re-composition.

In general, the scoring is lighter and fleeter than the German version and one realises that it all actually works rather better in French. Ukrainian soprano Sofia Soloviy's Salomé is a revelation, too: finally, a Salome who sounds like a teenage vamp - "monstrueuse" yet so seductive, with a sensual, flickering vibrato, rich tone, great reserves of power, a shimmering top and heft both in the middle and at the bottom of the voice - simply sensational. Given that this was recorded in 2007, why haven't we heard more of her since? Her French is a bit indistinct and mushy but better than her co-singers who are otherwise all Italian. Her final scene is a tour de force, as good as any I know, her B flats shining out like beacons. Her Iokanaan is a strong-voiced baritone with a commanding presence (and the usual ropey French). Leonardo Gramagna as Herod is ideal: neurotic yet precise in his singing of this deceptively difficult music, presenting a really credibly creepy Herod and dominating the stage when he is present. His Herodias is suitably nasty, raddled and vocally adept. The Narraboth is a funny, throaty little tenor, rather weedy and effete, like, as Stewart Crowe says, a French chanteur, but that's not inappropriate for that befuddled, lovestruck youth, probably little older than the sixteen-year-old Salomé. The Page is a firm, expressive mezzo.

Extras such as the prolonged argument about the Messiah amongst the Jews and Nazarenes, much truncated in the German version, provide additional motivation to acquire this recording. There is a bit of thumping and clumping across the stage but the audience is inaudible until they break out into enthusiastic and well-deserved applause at the end and the sound is otherwise remarkably full and clear, to the extent that you can hear the turning of pages in the score but not the prompter.

In fact, for all its little (mainly linguistic) flaws, as soon as I had finished listening to it the first time around I immediately started playing the first CD again...so maybe this is five stars, after all...
Unlimited Stars for ME in this revelatory recording, but realistically 4 Stars on a wider basis-but read on..... 1 Mar 2014
By D. S. CROWE - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I thought I knew pretty well all there was to know about this work with which I have been obsessed (one of SO many!) for more years than I care to admit-but I was wrong. When the Nagano recording of Salomé –the French version of the Strauss Opera-appeared in the 90’s, I dismissed it as merely a translation of the work with a few added notes to accommodate the French Language in the manner of Wagner and the Paris version of Tannhauser and declined to buy it!

Only recently did I discover that what Strauss composed for the 1905 was in fact a complete rewrite of the score using the original play by Oscar Wilde-written in French of course-as the text, with the editorial assistance of his long time friend Romain Rolland. The play differs considerably from the freely adapted and translated libretto by Hedwig Lachmann, and Strauss took the opportunity to effectively compose a new work, as he put it, in the manner of Debussy’s Pelleas et Melisande and which he felt would be more acceptable to a French audience than his post-Wagnerian German version.

He reduced the orchestration and not only re-scored the entire work, but re-composed more than half of the music to suit more acerbic text of the play. This version was later superseded by a basic French translation of Lachmann’s libretto to Strauss’s original score, and lay forgotten until rediscovered in the 1980’s in the Munich archives!
Thus intrigued, I made to buy the Nagano recording only to find it deleted and unavailable other than through special order-so I took a punt and opted for this, the only other version available and featuring artists unknown to me.

Revelatory is a word I over use, but this recording is genuinely that in EVERY respect!

This is a recording of live performance from the 2007 Martina Franca Festival, a most appealing city near Taranto and which since 1975 has performed opera in the open air courtyard of The Ducal Palace amid a wide ranging arts festival. The operas have been modern works alternating with the more obscure works of familiar composers.
The recording is very detailed with a nice balance between the stage and orchestra, with a little stage noise on occasions-some unwanted clumping in Jokanaan’s narrative for example –but little or no audience intrusion.

The orchestra, “ad hoc” for the Festival and drawn from mainly Italian bands but also from further afield-there are quite a few Asian players-acquits itself very well indeed, and under the experienced baton of Massimiliano Caldi, the one name I had heard of, manages the clever trick of actually sounding like the French orchestras we remember before homogenisation robbed orchestras of their national characteristics.

The work opens comically-the Narraboth, Vincenzo Sarinelli has a nasal timbre reminiscent of chanteur Georges Guetary, which I presume is an intended joke as there is no shortage of tenors who can deliver a passable conventional interpretation.
His second entry, preceded by a huge intake of breath as he launches into an aim at the note made me wince, but as the role progressed I bought into the concept. He struggles at the top of the scale, but that’s not the point in this reading.

Things improve with Jokanaan, who delivers a good Gallic/Italianate performance-high baritone, not bass-but the entry of Sofia Soloviy as the “heroine” transforms the performance.
This Ukrainian born but Italian trained artist-she was won several awards in Italy-looks beautiful in the accompanying lavish illustrations, and her singing matches and exceeds her beauty.
She has a full range from a rich, dark mezzo through to a silverine, shining soprano with limpid top notes and fearless steady attack above the stave.
She captures the girlish seductive tones perfectly and just as well the depraved creature of the second half of the work. She is a complete revelation in the role, and worth the exploration of this set alone.
She is matched by a sung Herod of equal stature-Leonardo Gramengna sings each tricky phrase perfectly, does not resort to shouting, and his lighter almost lyrical Herod is a fascinating take on the role being less hysterical and more incisive.

The scene following the quirky Dance of the Seven Veils is an extended duet of different musical content to the German version, with writing that could easily be attributed to Alban Berg, and it is here that Strauss crosses the boundary further from Romanticism into Expressionism of the Second Viennese School than he did in Elektra, which in context seems somewhat of a throwback!

This is emphasised by the swift tempi and the balancing by Maestro Caldi, who takes advantage of the fluidity of the French tongue to press ahead at tempi which startle and dazzle, supporting this concept perfectly.

The supporting cast is very good, many of the roles being “doubled up.” In the Wilde version, Herodias has less of a part (though she is excellent) and the work is shorter not just because of the tempi adopted but because the play is shorter than the libretto. The disputatious interplay between assorted Jews, Nazarenes, Cappadocians etc is omitted being replaced by brief more restrained dialogue with subdued background mutterings.

I will leave others to comment oh how idiomatic the French is-It will do for me.
This is not the over ripe decaying peach of decadent Romanticism that is Karajan’s reading, and goes further into dissonant neuroses than Solti-there is little of the dark humour injected slyly by Strauss after Wilde, instead this is a disturbing , intense experience of what sounds a very modern work.

I could list a catalogue of gripes of course, but I am more concerned with performance than perfection-and this performance is electrifying.
If you are looking for a recording of the “conventional” Salome, Karajan, Solti, Leinsdorf, Sinopoli and Schonwandt (on Chandos) all offer wonderful versions, Karajan getting the nod from me.
This version won’t be for everyone-but if you are seeking a radically different view of this work-as intended by Strauss himself-then I commend this version unreservedly.

Since commencing this review, I have received and listened to the Nagano which is very fine, but far more “straight”-almost as if he were a little embarrassed at Strauss’s reworking!
Fine singing of course, not least from Van Dam, but the Salome on this Italian set is far superior, and overall, it is a genuine “ revelation. I have referred to the sumptuous presentation, which has excellent notes on the work and an English/French Libretto, but no artist biographies. 5 Stars for me, but realistically 4 stars in the wider arena.
Courage Mes Braves!! Stewart Crowe.
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