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Historical - Strauss: Die Frau Ohne Schatten / Kempe, Hopf, Schech, Et Al

Release Date: 07/28/2009 
Label:  Myto Records   Catalog #: 212   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Richard Strauss
Performer:  Leonie RysanekLilian BenningsenHans HopfMarianne Schech
Conductor:  Rudolf Kempe
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bavarian State Opera OrchestraBavarian State Opera Chorus
Number of Discs: 3 
Recorded in: Mono 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

R. STRAUSS Die Frau ohne Schatten Rudolf Kempe, cond; Hans Hopf ( Emperor ); Leonie Rysanek ( Empress ); Josef Metternich ( Barak ); Marianne Schech ( Dyer’s Wife ); Lilian Benningsen ( Nurse ); Kurt Böhme ( Spirit Messenger ); Bavarian St Op O & Ch Read more MYTO 212 (3 CDs: 194:01) Live: Munich 31/08/1954

Die Frau ohne Schatten can be counted among Richard Strauss’s greatest operas. Strange enough, it’s a work rarely encountered on the international stage. The reason why is no doubt found in the story and its underlying message. That story has similarities with Mozart’s Magic Flute in the way that magical and ordinary worlds cross each other all the time. Notwithstanding the fact that this opera belongs among his greatest and most colorful scores, Strauss had a hard time composing it. It was eventually finished in 1915, but was received with mixed feelings. This production dates from a Munich performance in 1954, less than five years after the composer’s death.

Rudolf Kempe is remembered today as one of the greatest Strauss interpreters of his time. His recordings made for EMI in the 1970s still rank among the finest available. His conducting is engaged, with an attentive eye for detail. His greatest merit is his capability to bring clarity and transparency in Strauss’s often-complex scores. Vocal stars of this set are Leonie Rysanek as the Empress, Hans Hopf as the Emperor, and Josef Metternich as Barak. During their lifetimes, these singers already belonged to the very best of Strauss singers. The sound is good but not great for its time; the orchestra sounds muted and too far away; a pity, because it lacks the necessary impact.

Sinopoli’s recording on Teldec might not be a perfect contemporary alternative, but it gives a fresh and colorful view of the music. Voigt, Heppner, and Schwarz bring the main characters to life with verve and energy. Sinopoli’s affinity for Strauss becomes clear once again in this superb recording. Another classic is Böhme’s recording on Deutsche Grammophon with Nilsson, Rysanek, and King.

Rudolf Kempe belonged to a school of conductors to whom truthfulness to the score and reliability of technique were extremely important. No wonder almost all of his recorded work is delivered in a professional, exciting way. Recommended!

FANFARE: Bart Verhaeghe
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Works on This Recording

Die Frau ohne Schatten, Op. 65 by Richard Strauss
Performer:  Leonie Rysanek (Soprano), Lilian Benningsen (Mezzo Soprano), Hans Hopf (Tenor),
Marianne Schech (Soprano)
Conductor:  Rudolf Kempe
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bavarian State Opera Orchestra,  Bavarian State Opera Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1914-1918; Germany 
Language: German 

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