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Strauss: Salome / Ozawa, Norman, Dresden Staatskapelle

Release Date: 05/08/2002 
Label:  Philips   Catalog #: 432153   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Richard Strauss
Performer:  Kerstin WittKarl-Friedrich HölzkeAnnette MarkertJames Morris,   ... 
Conductor:  Seiji Ozawa
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Dresden Staatskapelle
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 43 Mins. 

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This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

In the battle of sex and religion, Jessye Norman's Salome proves a formidable victor at a very early stage. Any prophet might well be pinioned to the wall by the incandescent cry of ''Jokanaan!'' as she launches into her song of songs, and since James Morris is a mere stentorian voice of God—a rich one, certainly, but not the persuasive orator in his calmer moments that Terfel made of Jokanaan on DG—the combat is hardly equal. Not that this is a Salome without youthful sheen or capriciousness—the coaxing of Narraboth is lightly coloured, and ''Er ist schrecklich'' registers with impish delight rather than twisted fascination—simply an invulnerable one: Norman unleashes her powers to underline the princess's regal status, a Herodias or Read more perhaps even a Klytemnestra in the making, rather than her teenaged inexperience. It may well be that Strauss wanted a portrait of sensuous youth corrupted as much by the Baptist's ravings as by the court around her—and for that one is well enough served by Behrens (EMI), Karen Huffstodt in the French-language version on Virgin and, up to a point, Studer on DG—but this Salome, a chameleonic terror from the first, certainly extends the role's possibilities.

It is as strong and true a characterization as Norman has ever given us: a few top Bs apart, never just under the note in the upper reaches (a problem with her Ariadne for Masur, 11/88), and astonishingly accurate with pitching as Salome leans breathlessly over the cistern in anticipation of Jokanaan's execution. In the final scene, she may lack that sense of painful nostalgia for what might have been, so poignantly conjured by Behrens, but sheer tonal brilliance is recompense enough. If it occasionally takes on a hard, larger-than-life edge, then that has much to do with the swings and roundabouts of the recorded balance: unnecessarily helpful to voices big enough to fend for themselves, but absolutely right in the relationship of voice and orchestra when the smaller roles are in question. It certainly works wonders for Richard Leech, a Sehnsucht-laden Narraboth who quickly establishes the magic of the shot-silk Palestinian night after the opening clarinet solo—too present, too careful of articulation—has missed it completely. Ozawa certainly stints on the sickly-sweet atmosphere one might have expected the Dresdeners to conjure rather well; more predictably, the sound remains obstinately soft-edged in graphic passages that ought to raise hackles (the orchestral depiction of Herod's collapse and Herodias's crowing, for instance).

The interlude following Jokanaan's curse is perhaps the fairest demonstration of the Ozawa/Dresden partnership at full pelt. No match for Karajan's cataclysmic drama and lacking the shocks and horrors of Solti, it still moves at an urgent enough pace and the orchestral blend, with the horns in fine perspective, carries a fascination of its own (though the creaking contrabassoon solo as Salome's desire reaches ugly depths is unintentionally comic). The complex quarrel of religious factions comes across almost as dazzlingly as it did on the Sinopoli set; the Dresden woodwind, elsewhere rather pallid in upward knifethrusts and screaming fortes, make a good collective showing here. Very much in the set's favour, too, is the way Philips's first CD uniquely takes us all the way up to the moment before Salome's Dance, which launches the second disc; our uninterrupted appreciation of the way the royals turn aside the God question so recklessly is thereby enhanced, though the dance itself is tame, unteasing and occasionally unfocused. One can't help wondering, incidentally, whether Sinopoli, whose Deutsche Oper Orchestra play so splendidly for him on DG, would have achieved more incisive results in Dresden than Ozawa. Both, at any rate, are inappropriately glacial as Herod's panic mounts; a rather more open, properly sung, Heldentenorishness from Raffeiner would have helped here (his lady, though—Kerstin Witt, a cutting match for Baltsa on EMI—is superbly, garishly vile). It is Norman who restores a theatrical sense of pace single-handedly, vivid indeed in Salome's anxiety before the executioner appears with her trophy. Given fiercely dramatic competition, with Karajan at the top of the list, Ozawa pales and more than usual has to be staked on the heroine; Norman's admirers should be delighted, and doubters newly converted.

-- Gramophone [10/1994]
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Works on This Recording

Salome, Op. 54 by Richard Strauss
Performer:  Kerstin Witt (Mezzo Soprano), Karl-Friedrich Hölzke (Tenor), Annette Markert (Mezzo Soprano),
James Morris (Bass Baritone), Jessye Norman (Soprano), Walter Raffeiner (Tenor),
Richard Leech (Tenor), Andreas Conrad (Tenor), Peter Küchler (Tenor),
Frank Schiller (Tenor), Harry Peeters (Bass), Günter Dressler (Bass),
Rolf Tomaszewski (Bass), Jurgen Commichau (Bass), Matthias Henneberg (Bass),
Andreas Schmidt (Tenor)
Conductor:  Seiji Ozawa
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Dresden Staatskapelle
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1903-1905; Germany 
Date of Recording: 11/1990 
Venue:  Lukas Church, Dresden, Germany 
Length: 103 Minutes 2 Secs. 
Language: German 

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