Notes and Editorial Reviews
This recording has always been sort of the stepchild among Salome performances, but it is a great one, for all that the principals are not usually associated with their roles, or with German opera more generally. Sherrill Milnes makes a firm-voiced, very serious Jokanaan indeed. His German is excellent, and his relentless nobility makes an aptly fanatical but not irritating impression. After all, the spotlight has to remain on Salome and we never want to get the sense that he deserves what’s coming to him, however unlovable Strauss’ portrait may be.
As for Caballé, this was one of her great roles even though her career took her in a very different direction ultimately. She is totally believable, whether in her bratty
interactions with Milnes, or her obvious loathing of Herod. In the final scene, she pours on the tone in a torrent of decadent ecstasy. When she says she’s going to bite Jokanaan’s mouth like a ripe fruit, she sounds as revolting (and beautiful) as Strauss surely intended. It’s a magnificent performance and a salutary demonstration of Caballé’s wider-than-assumed range as an artist.
The rest of the cast is top-notch. Richard Lewis makes an aptly sleazy Herod, but he really sings the role. So does Regina Resnik, always an intelligent presence, as Herodias. Narroboth gets a bit of luxury casting in the person of James King, while the smaller parts are all solidly sung. Erich Leinsdorf was a very impressive Strauss conductor, and he moves the drama along smartly. Despite his reputation as something of a cold fish, he gives Caballé all the time and indulgence she needs in her closing scene to paint her character vocally, while luxuriating in Strauss’ ultra-lavish orchestration. The playing of the LSO is really excellent, and the sonics very good for the period (1968).
There are many fine Salome recordings out there, including Karajan’s with Behrens and the also underrated Schonwandt on Chandos with Inge Nielsen, but this one compares favorably to the best.
-- David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
Works on This Recording
Salome, Op. 54 by Richard Strauss
Montserrat Caballé (Soprano),
Regina Resnik (Mezzo Soprano),
Sherrill Milnes (Baritone),
Richard Lewis (Tenor)
London Symphony Orchestra
Written: 1903-1905; Germany
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