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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Suitably Sterling Celebration, 7 April 2014
This review is from: Richard Strauss - Complete Operas (DG box set) (Audio CD)
Heritage recordings are the name of the game with Deutsche Grammophon's bumper boxed set of the complete Strauss operas. There are some expected classics here. So we get Georg Solti's brilliantly driven Elektra and his excellent Rosenkavalier, with the peerless Régine Crespin as his Marschallin. There's also Karl Böhm's Capriccio and his Daphne, as well as Clemens Krauss conducting Die Liebe der Danae, as he did at the abortive Salzburg premiere in 1944, cancelled due to the declaration of 'total war'.

Some of the very best of recent recordings are also on offer, such as Sinopoli's fabulously unhinged Salome, with Cheryl Studer as the nympho Princess of Judea and echt Straussian Leonie Rysanek as her all-too-encouraging mother. And, of course, there's Solti's Die Frau ohne Schatten, with Julia Varady, Hildegard Behrens, Plácido Domingo, José van Dam and the Vienna Philharmonic in pretty unbeatable form. As a non-operatic bonus you also get Jessye Norman and the Gewandhausorchester under Kurt Masur offering the very best of Strauss's Lieder, including, for me, the finest account of the Four Last Songs.

Not all of Strauss's operas, however, have been recorded by Decca or DG. So in order to complete this box, they've had to turn to EMI as was, now Warner Classics, for the benchmark Sawallisch Intermezzo with Lucia Popp and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau as the composer and his wife, while Sony provides a perfectly fine if not outstanding Budapest recording of Strauss's first opera Guntram. Perhaps the real boon of the box, however, given its lack of availability elsewhere, is the 1978 Deutschlandradio recording of the second opera Feuersnot, with Gundula Janowitz, John Shirley-Quick and the DSO Berlin under Eric Leinsdorf.

But I can't help feeling that collections such as this, presented by labels for major anniversaries or birthdays, are ultimately a little cheap when they can't provide full librettos for the works represented. Most of these, of course, are offered online, as a sop to any critics like me, but rarities such as Die Liebe der Danae, Feuersnot and Guntram have no supporting text, either in the box or on your computer, should you choose to log on. It's a real chink in the collection's armour and a missed opportunity given this anniversary year's opportunity to encourage listeners towards these intriguing and, in the case of Danae, woefully under-celebrated works. For that, however, I can't give five stars.
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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Set of Strauss Recordings, 6 Feb 2014
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This review is from: Richard Strauss - Complete Operas (DG box set) (Audio CD)
If you are reading this review you are most likely a Strauss fan. Unfortunately, if that is the case you are likely to probably already own many of these recordings. You will need to weigh the balance of your current Strauss collection with the possible additions included below. On the other hand, if you are new to Strauss's operas with the wish to explore the bulk of his works this is a fantastic chance to get a massive exposure. Keep in mind that Strauss can be quite variable in his compositions so make sure that you enjoy his works before making this investment. For example - Der Rosenkavalier is a very very different opera compared to Elektra. The set contains some of the major classic Strauss recordings performed over the last 50 years and is a must if one enjoys Strauss. I was lucky enough to only own a few of these so the purchase was a must. A highly recommended set!

Contents:
CD 1 - 2 Arabella
Della Casa/Fischer-Dieskau/Rothenberger/Malaniuk/Paskuda/Kohn/Bayerischer Staatsopernchor/Bayerisches Staatsoper/Keilberth
CD 3 - 4 Ariadne auf Naxos
Voigt / von Otter / Dessay * Heppner / Staatskapelle Dresden / Sinopoli
CD 5 - 6 Capriccio
Janowitz/Troyanos/Auger/Schreier/de Ridder/Fischer-Dieskau/Prey/Ridderbusch/SOBR/Böhm
CD 7 - 8 Daphne
Güden/Wunderlich/King/Schöffler/WS/Böhm
CD 9 - 10 Elektra
Nilsson/Collier/Stolze/Krause/Resnik/WP/Solti
CD 11 - 12 Feuersnot
Janowitz / Shirley-Quirk / Berlin Radio Orchestra / Leinsdorf
CD 13 - 15 Die Frau ohne Schatten
Varady/Behrens/Runkel/Domingo/van Dam/Sumi Jo/WP/Solti
CD 16 - 17 Die schweigsame Frau
Hotter/Güden/Prey/Wunderlich/Alarie/Vienna State Opera Chorus and Orchestra/Böhm
CD 18 Der Friedenstag
Voigt/Dohmen/Botha/Villars/Staatsopernchor Dresden/Staatskapelle Dresden/Sinopoli
CD 19 - 20 Guntram
Tokody/Goldberg/Sólyom-Nagy/Gati/Bandi/Chor der Ungarischen Armee/Ungarisches Staatsorchester/Queler
CD 21 - 22 Die ägyptische Helena
Jones/Katsu/Hendricks/Bryant/Kenneth Jewell Chorus/Detroit SO/Dorati
CD 23 - 24 Intermezzo
Popp / Fischer-Dieskau / Dallapozza / Sawallisch
CD 25 - 27 Die Liebe der Danae
Kupper/Schöffler/Traxel/Szemere/Wiener Staatsopernchor/WP/Krauss
CD 28 - 30 Der Rosenkavalier
Crespin/Jungwirth/Minton/Donath/WP/Solti
CD 31 - 32 Salome
Studer/Rysanek/Terfel/Hiestermann/Bieber/Orchester der Deutschen Oper Berlin/Sinopoli
CD 33 4 Last Songs / Songs with Orchestra
Norman / Gewandhausorchester / Masur
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36 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This box set contains all Richard Strauss's operas-many acclaimed recordings., 6 Feb 2014
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Ultrarunner (Perth-West Australia) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Richard Strauss - Complete Operas (DG box set) (Audio CD)
The complete box set of Richard Strauss's operas is exactly that;complete with the Four last songs.(See my reviews of CDs further on.) Many of the recordings are considered the best available,if not,close behind. Recordings from 1952,taken from the first Salzburg festival after the war, onwards to 2001. This is an ideal set for those who have never heard any of Richard Strauss's operas, or own a few of the operas and would like to explore further,or like singers of yore.So,I am in an ideal position to review this box set,as I have heard many of these recordings before.

The box set is light and small,about the size of the EMI Eminence box set of 50 CDs.(see my review). Because of the black ink designs on the front,sides and top of the box,it stands out.The artist is Aubrey Beardsley(1872-1898) "whose black and white drawings were associated with the literature of Oscar Wilde and the fin de siecle,they probably constitute the most characteristic contribution of the English to art nouveau graphic art" (History of Modern art pg 83). On the back of the box is printed the operas in the set,CD numbers,singers,orchestra and conductor.Yet the operas are not in the order Strauss composed them. I cannot give you a reason.The lid is really a flap,and is heavily protected. Inside the box, the back and front has cardboard covered sponges to protect the 33 CDs. The box has only one layer of cardboard instead of two,but the box set arrived in Perth,West Australia without any damage. The cardboard sleeves have light tonal powder colours.Each opera having a different colour sleeve and same colour CDs.For example, Sleeve CD 1 and 2, Arabella,has a light lime colour. None of the operas have the original cover.The front of the sleeve, Richard Strauss complete operas,name of the opera,say Arabella 1 and two.CD number. The back the same,with Acts,plus singers and the parts they are singing. The CD is exactly the same,with CD number.However,the CDs are easy to retrieve from the Sleeve. You cannot get lost. DGG have attempted to make this box into a celebration of Strauss's 150th birthday,exactly like the Decca Complete works of Britten,(see my review)with all the other companies involved. In this box set DGG have used Decca,EMI, Phillips, and naturally DGG recordings. Nowhere does it say the CDs have been remastered.But after listening to them,it seems this has been the case.

The Booklet has a guide of the operas in the order Strauss composed them,with information about him,and why and how he composed them. A list of the CDs and page you can find the Track numbers,wiith the arias and who is singing. Also,the synopsis in English,French and German.Historical photos. I am afraid no English translation,or CD Rom,but you can find the libretti of all of Strauss operas,except, Guntram,Feuersnot and Liebe der Danae on( opera-guide.ch ),according to the booklet.Timeline, dates operas composed and who wrote the libretto,plus premiere.What this booklet shows you that a lot of thought has gone into this set,via the history and the great singers and conductors included in this 150th birthday present to Richard Strauss.

I intend to go across the page instead of down,the reason being,to save space,also to place reviews and comments. The CD number will come first,then the opera,year released, whether it is Stereo,Mono or DDD. Singers, Conductor and orchestra. Reviews from Penguin Guides and my comments with -T. I write these box reviews in this manner, so I can give you the reader,all the information I can think of,so you can decide whether you want to buy this set sight unseen.That is why they are long ,for you are laying out a great deal of money.

Firstly,before I continue, I must explain the history contained in this marvellous Richard Strauss set. Karl Bohm the conductor was held in high regard by the composer.He conducted the world premiere of Die Schweigsame Frau,also Strauss dedicated Daphne to him ,which he conducted at the World Premiere in Dresden. Bohm was the music director of the Dresden opera, successor to Ernest von Schuch and Fritz Busch, who between them had conducted all the premieres of Strauss's operas since Feuersnot.But Clemens Krauss conducted the Premiere of Die Liebe der Danae and Capriccio instead of Bohm. Strauss was overjoyed that he had not lost Bohm's friendship over this. Krauss had written the libretto of Capriccio with Strauss. Keilberth's recording of Arabella opened the Munich opera house in 1963. A young Georg Solti who knew the composer, conducted the famous trio from Der Rosenkavalier at Richard Strauss's Funeral,September 1949.

(CD 1 & 2) ARABELLA. (LIVE.) 1963.Stereo. Lisa Della Casa(see my review on her singing of live excerpts from Strauss operas,in a box set).Fischer-Dieskau, Anneliese Rothenberger,Ira Malaniuk.Bayerischer Staatsorchester cond Keilberth."What cannot be in dispute is that the part of Arabella might have been written for Della Casa.The Gramophone May 1992 states" that one must go to this 1963 recording to hear her Arabella at her best." Fischer-Dieskau gives a masterly account of Mandryka."There are a number of cuts which was usual at the time agreed to by the composer.-T

(CD 3 & 4) ARIADNE AUF NAXOS.2001.DDD.Deborah Voight,Anne Sofie von Otter,Natalie Dessay, Ben Heppner,Albert Dohman. Staatskapelle Dresden,cond Sinopoli. "His version is an opulent view of the most delicate of the Strauss operas.Anne Von Otter is at once tender and vulnerable as the composer.Voight brings power as well as warmth to the part of Ariadne.Dessay as Zerbinetta is commanding and characterful. Heppner is superb as Bacchus."

(CD 5 & 6) CAPRICCIO.1972.Stereo.Gundula Janowitz., Fischer-Dieskau,Peter Schreier,Hermann Prey,Karl Riddersbusch,Tatiana Troyanos.Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks cond Bohm." Stands on a par with the Mono Sawallisch-Schwarzkopf recording. It captures the glorious Janowitz voice in her prime.She is supported by a great cast." Get the Schwarzkopf recording later on. They are both good .

(CD 7 & 8) DAPHNE.LIVE.1965.Stereo. Paul Schoffler,Vera Little,Hilde Gueden,Fritz Wunderlich,James King. Vienna Symphoniker cond Karl Bohm to whom Strauss dedicated this opera. "It is considered a fine performance.Gueden makes a delectable Daphne and gives one of her finest performances on record. King and Wunderlich are both magnificent." A live recording made during the 1964 festival. I also like Haitink conducting the Bavarian symphony orchestra with Lucia Popp in this opera. A pantheist opera,where Daphne turns into a tree. Pauline Strauss throught this opera was Richard's best opera.

(CD 9 & 10) ELEKTRA.1967.Stereo.Regina Resnik,Birgit Nilsson,Marie Collier, Gerhard Stolze,Tom Krause. Vienna Philharmoniker, Georg Solti.There is no one to touch Nilsson in this part,even today. A powerful reading by Solti.-T.

(CD 11 & 12) FEUERSNOT.LIVE. 1978.Stereo.A first time release.Gundula Janowitz,Barbara Scherier,Marie Jose Brill, Carole Malone,John Shirley-Quirk.Deutsches Symphonie-orchestra Berlin cond Erich Leinsdorf.Strauss's second opera,is an allegory with an element of satire,set in medieval times. Like his first opera Guntram it is opulently scored,and in three acts tells its story of Kunrad,a young sorcerer who,when rejected and ridiculed,puts a curse on the town,extinguishing all fire and light. In this opera Strauss breaks away from Richard Wagner and finds a style of his own. Leinsdorf a Wagner specialist brings out the beauty of Janowitz's voice.A opera that helps us understand the development of the composer-T.

(CD 13-15) DIE FRAU OHNE SCHATTEN.1992.DDD.Domingo.Julia Varady,Reinhild Runkel, Albert Dohmen,Jose Van dam, Hildegard Behrens,Sumi Jo. Vienna Philharmonic,cond Georg Solti.No cuts in this recording. Claimed to be the only opera that cost over One million pounds to record.The reviewer of this opera in the Gramophone May 1992 writes,"I shall chance my arm and declare this to be the most exciting recorded opera of any to date. The range of sound is extraordinary yet it is never gained at the expense of detail. Another triumph has been set by the producers and engineers who set the standards 20 or more years ago with Solti's Salome, Elektra and Der Rosenkavalier".The Penguin Guide 1996 goes so far as to state" that this superb recording is unlikely to be matched,let alone surpassed ,or many years." There are good sets on CD of this opera,each has its supporters. I once owned the Bohm 2 recording,with Rysanek,Nilsson and Berry,live. There are two excellent bluray's of this opera,Thielemann conducting the Vienna Philharmoniker,with Anne Schwanewilms the best Strauss singer today,Wolfgang Koch,Evelyn Herlitzius,Michaela Schuster.Modern production. Music very Straussian and emotional.(Fleming is another great Strauss singer).The Russian reading of this opera by Gergiev is good. Mostly traditional. Read my review.

(CD 16 & 17) DIE SCHWEIGSAME FRAU.LIVE recording from the Salzburg Festival 1959.MONO.Hans Hotter, Georgine Von Milinkovic,Hermann Prey, Fritz Wunderlich.Hilde Gueden. Vienna Philharmonic cond Karl Bohm.Conducted the world Premiere."A cast that could hardly be bettered,Bohm relishes the high spirits as well as the classical elegance of this late Strauss opera. Hans Hotter is excellent as the old bachelor who hates noise in this comic opera. Hilde Gueden is a delightful minx-ish like heroine using her distinctive like golden tones,while the young Wunderlich gives a glorious performance. Hermann Prey has rarely sounded stronger or more beautiful on disc."

(CD 18) FRIENDENSTAG.2001.DDD.Albert Dohman. Deborah Voight. Tom Martinsen.Jon Villars. Staatskapelle Dresden.Cond Sinopoli.It is an Anti-war opera,Strauss's answer to the politicans. The last day of the Thirty years war.A besieged city is near to surrender. The inhabitants are starving. Even the Mayor begs the commandant to surrender to save their lives. He refuses as his orders are to fight to the last. Bells are rung,which means peace is declared.Premiere 1938,National Theater,Munich.

(CD 19 & 20) GUNTRAM.1985.DDD. Reiner Goldberg,Ilona Tokody,Sandor,Solyom-Nagy. Hungarian State Orchestra. Cond Eve Queler.The story of the brave, libertarian knight Guntram's adventures in 13th century Germany and his love for the heroine Freihild,daughter of the local ruler, whose husband Duke Robert is a sort of villain and opponent of peace; is really one about individual reponsiblity being more important then religious orthodoxy. Guntram's great final monologue is strikingly close to Nietzsche. "My life is determined only by the law of my soul;my god speaks to me only through myself".The young composer was inspired by Don Juan and other early symphonic poems. This music in Guntram anticipates the more lyrical side of Salome.Yet even in this first opera you can hear the Strauss to come. Well sung and conducted.The Premiere of Guntram was in 1894 and conducted by Strauss; Pauline de Ahna sung the main part. They married the same year,after she threw a book at him from the stage in rehearsals.She rushed away to her dressing room ,he followed. They then announced they were going to get married.The composer portrayed her as the Wife of the Dyer,in Woman without a Shadow.

(CD 21 & 22) DIE AGYPTISCHE HELENA.1979.Stereo.Gwyneth Jones, Matti Kastu,Barbara Hendricks.,Birgit Finnila.Detroil Symphony orchestra,Antal Dorati.Originally designed as a vehicle for Maria Jeritza and Richard Tauber,but much to Hofmansthal's disgust, for the Dresden Premiere, Strauss gave the part of Helen to Rethberg."Dorati uses the original Dresden version of the score. He draws magnificent sounds from the Detroit Orchestra. Jones is a commanding presence. Kastu manages as well as any Heldentenor today with a pleasing and distinctive timbre.". Whenever I review a Richard Strauss Bluray opera ,I have always mentioned this opera. I am simply amazed it has been allowed to disappear.It certainly requires to be staged and filmed.I have owned this recording for years.-T

(CD 23 & 24) INTERMEZZO.1980. Stereo.Lucia Popp.Fischer-Dieskau,Gabriele Fuchs. Symphonieorchestra des Bayerischen Rundfunks cond Wolfgang Sawallisch. I spent a lot of time at the Munich State opera in the mid 1970's, listening to Swallisch conduct Richard Strauss.This opera is based upon an incident in Pauline and Richard Strauss's life. She received a letter from a woman who wanted tickets for a performance. She had mistaken Richard for someone else. Pauline thought he was having an affair and started divorce proceedings. Richard was perplexed;the truth finally came out. The composer turned it into this opera,even writing the libretto.The staging was based on rooms in their house. Both Pauline and Richard thought the opera was a success.Richard even instructed the singers how to act the part. Lehmann who played Christine in the opera,thought the Strauss's arguments were part of an act. Strauss was endlessly fascinated by Pauline.She was house proud,never stopped talking,sacked her servants,emotional,coy,yet helped him to understand the Female voice. That is why his parts for women in his opera's are sublime.She kept checking on him to see he was working. He was laid back,he could handle Prima Donnas and was very witty. Mahler and Hofmansthal were horrified by her.What is ironic is that Alma Mahler,wanted to be a muse like Cosima Wagner,and the composer had huts built so he could escape Alma and other interuptions.When Pauline tore a strip off Richard,he said, "I need that,keeps me on my toes." Popp and the other singers do justice to this opera. No recording can better this one.

(CD 25-27) DIE LIEBE DER DANAE. LIVE 1952. MONO.First time release. Paul Schoffler,Josef Traxel,Annelies Kupper.Anny Felbermayer,Josef Gostic.Vienna Philharmoniker cond Clemens Krauss. Salzburg festival.Hofmansthal brings together two myths involving the legend of Midas and the golden touch.Also, Jupiter seduction of Danae in the guise of golden rain. Kraus's affectionate reading is backed by some splendid singing from Paul Schoffler,Josef Gostic, Annelies Kupper and Anny Felbermayer.There is a bluray,it is excellent.Brit Amazon sells it,I know,I own it.

(CD 28-30). DER ROSENKAVALIER.1969.Stereo. Regine Crespin,Manfred Jungwirth, Yvonne Minton, Otto Wiener,Helen Donath,Luciano Pavarotti. Vienna Philharmoniker cond Georg Solti. "For those craving good sound and a reading of great charm-Crespin's rather Gallic Marschallin is wondrously sung. Many collectors rate this even more highly than the classic Karajan set.Its all a matter of opinion and taste. The Classic Karajan set has been given a rosette by Penguin for excellence.Those singers are Schwarzkopf,Ludwig,Edelmann,Stich-Randall. If you haven't got it,you can obtain it second hand.There is the EMI Der Rosenkavalier recorded in Vienna 1933 With Lehmann,Schumann and Mayr.With Strauss Lieder sung by Schumann and Lehmann.

(CD 31-32) 1991. DDD.Horst Hiestermann,Leonie Rysanek,Cheryl Studer and Bryn Terfel. Orchester der Deutschen Oper Berlin."Sinopoli's reading is often unconventional in its tempo's,but it is always positive,thrusting and full of passion,the most opulent account on disc. Cheryl Studer as Salome, produces glorious sounds throughout. Terfel is strong and noble." Different to the great Nilsson -Solti version.It is always positive to hear a opera from another perspective.

(CD 33) FOUR LAST SONGS.1983.DDD. Orchestral Lieder. Cacille,Morgen, Wiegenlied, Ruhe,mein seele,meinem Kinde, Zueignung. Jessye Norman cond Gewandhausorchester,Leipzig. "The four last songs was a farewell of serene confidence which is exactly the mood Norman convey's. Where word detail is concerned,Norman is only outshone by Schwarzkopf. 1993 Penguin Guide has given it a rosette for excellence. Also,this recording won the solo vocal catagory of the 1989 Gramophone record awards. Schwarzkopf's rendition conducted by Szell is rated a classic,but Norman shows us,that the Four last songs can be sung differently.

As you see DGG have gone out of their way to create an outstanding box set.

REFERENCES:Arnason,H.H. A History of Modern Art.1977.Thames and Hudson. Batta,A (ED) Opera. 2005. Konemann. The Gramophone Classical year guide 2002 and 2009. Gramophone November 1994. Holden,A.(ED) The Penguin Guide.1995.Viking. Kennedy,M. Richard Strauss.1976. J.M Dent & Sons. Penguin Guide to Classical music.1977,1993,1996,2008.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic collection., 26 May 2014
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This review is from: Richard Strauss - Complete Operas (DG box set) (Audio CD)
This is a wonderful collection. The other reviews have given a lot of the detail. For me, I have really enjoyed hearing the obscurer operas that are rarely performed or recorded. I have long heard about Fueursnot, the Egyptian Helen, Guntram, but never had a chance to hear them. They are in fact wonderful operas. The Silent Woman is a real classic. Three of these were banned: Fueursnot by the Kaiser Wilhelm (The Empress thought it obscene), the silent woman and Fiiedenstag by the Nazis (the silent woman had a jewish librettist, Friendenstag celebrated peace) .They have quite unjustly remained largely unperformed ever since.I have not finished all of the operas yet: but each recording has its strengths. I recommend this to any Strauss lover. The 5th star is missing only because it could have been even better in terms of recordings chosen if they had been free to choose across all those available and not just DG..
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