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Great Strauss Scenes / Brewer, Runnicles, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra


Release Date: 07/27/2010 
Label:  Telarc   Catalog #: 31755   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Richard Strauss
Performer:  Christine BrewerEric Owens
Conductor:  Donald Runnicles
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 0 Hours 59 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



R. STRAUSS Elektra: Recognition Scene 1,2. Capriccio: Moonlight Interlude. Die Frau ohne Schatten: Imprisonment Scene 1,2. Salome: Dance of the Seven Veils; Final Scene 1 1 Christine Brewer (sop); 2 Eric Owens (bs-bar); Read more Donald Runnicles, cond; Atlanta SO TELARC 31755 (59: 10 Text and Translation)


Christine Brewer remains one of the finest singers before the public today. Her disc of Schubert Lieder pertaining to death as part of the Hyperion Schubert Lied Edition is one of the highlights of that series. I well remember hearing her in Zemlinksy ( Es war einmal ) at London’s Royal Festival Hall back in 1999 and being hugely impressed. Here, she establishes the sheer force of her personality by flinging the unaccompanied cry of “Sei verflucht” that opens the Recognition Scene from Elektra at the listener. Donald Runnicles counters with an orchestral outburst of the highest intensity, but it is the ensuing orchestral contributions that impress the most, in the sheer virtuosity of the playing and the huge dynamic range employed. The brass underlay for Orest’s statements seem to come straight from the tomb. Eric Owens, however, is no match for Brewer. He is a fine singer, but he does not posses her massive power, nor her complete identification with the role. The triumph of this first, 20-minute excerpt comes about because of the combination of Brewer’s electrifying singing, her intense engagement with the text (diction is just right, always intelligible and yet never self-conscious), and Runnicles’ sure sense of dramatic trajectory. Moments of tenderness, too, are given their full due.


Runnicles is a first-class conductor, and the Brewer/Runnicles combination is a winning one. Runnicles revels in hard-hitting, late-Romantic scores, and his way with Strauss on this disc seems entirely natural. He combines an X-ray vision with textures, elucidating them miraculously (aided by Telarc’s superb recording) with the ability to elicit astonishing power from his Atlanta forces. The chosen orchestra excerpts demonstrate opposite ends of his abilities. The reflective “Moonlight Interlude” from Capriccio (which includes some lovely solo horn playing from the orchestra’s principal, Brice Andrus) is a magnificent Straussian outpouring. He paces the emotional extremes of Salome’s Dance with true seductiveness and energy, too. The glassy textures of the Frau ohne Schatten excerpt (from the beginning of the last act) are miraculously rendered, as is the conjuration of darkness at the opening. Brewer’s desolate cry of “Barak, mein Mann!” is heart-stopping in its lament, and it is here that Owens finally comes into his own. He has the final words, and very eloquent they are.


Brewer is an exemplary Salome in the Final Scene as recorded here. With Runnicles’ forces at white heat supporting Salome’s necrophiliac rant, this scorches itself on the memory. The quieter moments are almost frightening in their potentiality for evil, the close haunting in its infinitely disquieting beauty.


Texts are included in the booklet, but notes have to be accessed via the Web. That aside, this is a remarkable release. Brewer is up there with the greats of Straussian interpretation, beyond doubt.


FANFARE: Colin Clarke


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The superb dramatic soprano Christine Brewer here tears “bleeding chunks” from Elektra (The Recognition Scene), Die Frau ohne Schatten (Imprisonment Scene) and Salome (Final Scene) and sings with such power, brilliance, coherence and depth that one minute into each and the listener is plunged actively into the drama. Elektra’s Recognition Scene begins with her curse to Chrysothemis (“Sei verflucht!”) with a high B-flat to make one shudder and continues through Orestes’ entrance to the end of the scene. Brewer’s rage, then disdain, then warmth and sadness give us the total picture of this poor lunatic woman; bass Eric Owens is the rightly giant figure of Orestes. He takes the role of Barak in the Frau scene and the voices of the confused pair mingle handsomely. Brewer’s reading of Salome’s final scene lacks some of the derangement of finer actresses, but the last time such vocal security was heard in this part Birgit Nilsson was singing it. Donald Runnicles leads the Atlanta Symphony with passion, holding back nothing. Instrumental highlights are the wonderful, evocative, rarely heard “Moonlight Interlude” from Capriccio and Salome’s dance — a less than original choice nonetheless radiantly played. One looks forward to Ms. Brewer singing these roles complete.

-- Robert Levine, Listen Magazine
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Works on This Recording

1.
Elektra, Op. 58: Recognition Scene by Richard Strauss
Performer:  Christine Brewer (Soprano), Eric Owens (Bass Baritone)
Conductor:  Donald Runnicles
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
Period: Post-Romantic 
Written: 1906-1908 
Venue:  Atlanta Symphony Hall, Woodruff Arts Cen 
Length: 20 Minutes 51 Secs. 
2.
Capriccio, Op. 85: Interlude "Moonlight Music" by Richard Strauss
Performer:  Christine Brewer (), Christine Brewer (Soprano), Eric Owens (Baritone),
Eric Owens (Bass Baritone)
Conductor:  Donald Runnicles
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1940-1941; Germany 
Venue:  Atlanta Symphony Hall, Woodruff Arts Cen 
Length: 3 Minutes 5 Secs. 
3.
Die Frau ohne Schatten, Op. 65: Imprisonment Scene by Richard Strauss
Performer:  Eric Owens (Bass), Christine Brewer (Soprano), Christine Brewer (),
Eric Owens (Bass Baritone)
Conductor:  Donald Runnicles
Period: Post-Romantic 
Written: 1914-1917 
Venue:  Atlanta Symphony Hall, Woodruff Arts Cen 
Length: 10 Minutes 17 Secs. 
4.
Salome, Op. 54: Dance of the seven veils by Richard Strauss
Performer:  Christine Brewer (Soprano), Christine Brewer ()
Conductor:  Donald Runnicles
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1903-1905; Germany 
Venue:  Atlanta Symphony Hall, Woodruff Arts Cen 
Length: 8 Minutes 58 Secs. 
5.
Salome, Op. 54: Final Scene by Richard Strauss
Performer:  Christine Brewer (Soprano), Christine Brewer ()
Conductor:  Donald Runnicles
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1903-1905; Germany 
Venue:  Atlanta Symphony Hall, Woodruff Arts Cen 
Length: 15 Minutes 54 Secs. 

Sound Samples

Elektra, Op. 58: Recognition Scene
Capriccio, Op. 85: Moonlight Interlude
Die Frau ohne Schatten, Op. 65: Imprisonment Scene
Salome, Op. 54: Dance of the Seven Veils
Salome, Op. 54: Final Scene

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 Rich and Luscious (I think) March 11, 2014 By S. Phillips (Minneapolis, MN) See All My Reviews "I wrote and submitted a review, but somehow it has disappeared--sorry, because I enjoyed doing it, but don't know whether I could reconstruct it from memory. Thanks for asking--maybe I'll have better luck next time! S. Phillips" Report Abuse
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