Friday, February 18, 2005

Krauss does Strauss: Salome

This is the Decca recording from 1954, which has seen very little circulation in recent years. It was available for a long time on Richmond budget LP's, but I can't recall ever seeing it on CD. So here it is.

The conducting of Clemens Krauss (who died two months after this recording was made) is magnificent. The key to getting Salome right is on the one hand, the tempi, of course, but on the other it's the orchestral balances. It's complex orchestrally, and unless the various strands are properly balanced it can go awry. Here Krauss has it down to a 't'. Everything seems "right." The VPO is glorious, and the music is in its blood.

Christel Goltz is a damned good Salome. She's got that mixture of little girl voice and grownup bloodsucker that the role requires, and which only Welitch has completely nailed. Goltz doesn't have that kind of voice, but within her limitations she hits a ground-rule double if not a home run. I would've liked to have heard/seen her live.

Hans Braun is an exceptionally good Jokanaan, in many ways the most important role in the opera (certainly the most important male role--Eberhard W├Ąchter in the Solti recording is my favorite), and Julius Patzak is luxury casting as Herod (though the role does have a bit of a history of being played by older star tenors; Vickers sang it for awhile, for example).

Sonics are terrific late-era mono, without the top-end boost of the roughly contemporaneous Kleiber Rosenkavalier. The only thing missing is stereo, from which this opera, practically above all others, benefits.

Highly-recommendable to Salome-lovers, especially at the budget price. Kudos to Decca for rediscovering this "lost" recording.



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