Review of an earlier CD incarnation of this recording:
There may have actually been “greater” Salomes in recordings of Salome; Hildegard Behrens is arguably more insightful, and Montserrat Caballé more kittenish and vocally opulent–but Nilsson is in a class by herself. Normal human beings–even great singers who seem supernatural–have flaws; Nilsson has none. You never worry whether she will find the center of a note or end the long-breathed phrase gallantly–she always does. Now that Decca has returned the original, grotesque photograph of her to the cover, you’ll know what to expect.
She, Solti, and recording engineer John Culshaw were all of a mind: make theRead more most viscerally exciting, over-the-top recording of a masterpiece that should knock the socks off listeners, and that they did. Strauss’ gigantic orchestration never has sounded bigger or clearer, the interpretations of the singers never wilder. To hear Gerhard Stolze’s Herod is to meet insanity; Grace Hoffmann’s jealous and vicious Herodias is almost a match for Nilsson in strength. Eberhard Waechter’s Jokanaan is a bit throaty but the character’s fanaticism is never in doubt. And don’t get me wrong–Nilsson does more than sing perfectly: she cajoles, she rejoices, the voice quivers with delight, the words are spat out. The final apotheosis will send shivers down your spine.
The Vienna Philharmonic under Solti is magnificent. This will exhaust you, as rightly a Salome should.