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Strauss: Die Frau ohne Schatten / Nilsson, Bohm


Release Date: 09/20/1994 
Label:  Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog #: 445325   Spars Code: ADD 
Composer:  Richard Strauss
Performer:  Birgit NilssonLeonie RysanekRuth HesseJames King,   ... 
Conductor:  Karl Böhm
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna State Opera ChorusVienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Number of Discs: 3 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 2 Hours 55 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Later recordings are hardly likely to surpass the conductor, orchestra and cast assembled here

There have been rumours for a long time that a 'live performance' version of Die Frau ohne Schatten had been recorded at performances in Vienna under the direction of Karl Böhm, and here at last is the proof that they were true. So is preserved what was the classic cast for the work during the 1960s and 1970s. Böhm himself had always been closely connected with the opera and his recording of 30 years ago still survives in the Decca LP catalogue (G0S554, 4/68). This was also based on a Vienna State Opera staging. There are further rumours that both EMI (Sawallisch) and Decca (Solti) intend to record the work. Those
Read more versions will hopefully be absolutely complete. Böhm makes the standard theatre cuts, rather more damaging than those in his Decca version, but not so many as those on the deleted LP set on DG conducted by Keilberth, recorded live at Munich in 1963.

As William Mann commented when reviewing the reissue of the 1956 Decca set, Böhm's direction has "a fantastic, absolutely appropriate dynamism", and he never lost that even in his later years, as you can judge here. Of course, in every way the sound is superior to that on the older set, and throughout the Vienna strings play with an unmatchable Straussian glow, while the rest of the orchestra cope unflinchingly with this unbelievably complex score.

Opinions of the work itself will always differ. I am inclined more to Norman Del Mar's scepticism towards it than Mann's out-and-out enthusiasm. The banal and the bombastic seem often to rub shoulders with passages where Strauss is at his most sublime; Strauss too often seems defeated by the confused symbolism of the libretto and what Del Mar calls its "impenetrable intricacies". At the same time, much of the Third Act lives at an elevated level hardly found in earlier or later works. It is Böhm's skill to make us forget, much of the time, the obfuscation and enjoy the beauties and fantasies.

If the cast occasionally sounds a little elderly, its unrivalled understanding of its collective task wins through by the end. Nilsson's Dyer's Wife is least worried by the passing years, and here she gives a performance of a role that demands a rich lower register as well as a gleaming top to set beside her Elektra and Salome, indeed at certain points surpass them in sheer involvement and moving utterance. Anyone who may have thought her a cold singer needs to hear her remorse when she realizes the anguish she has caused her husband, Barak, sung here—as it was a few years ago at Covent Garden—with sympathetic warmth and generous breadth by Walter Berry. He is not always quite secure in line or pitch, but who cares when he is so obviously singing from deep within himself. Leonie Rysanek has remained unrivalled as the Empress for some 30 years. Here, after an initial huskiness, she gives an interpretation of more depth and understanding than she did on the 1956 set, and soars to the heights with almost equal ease. Her two long solos explore to the full the character's agony of soul and growing selfrealization. As her Emperor, James King copes well with the role's awkward tessitura, but his tone is often on the dry side.

Ruth Hesse makes the Nurse into a ruthless schemer, as she did on stage at Covent Garden, and the microphone often catches an edge on her tone. Smaller roles are taken with understanding by members of the Vienna ensemble. As I have implied, the recording lets us hear much more of the score than on the previous two and faithfully captures the excellent acoustics of the Vienna State Opera. Compact Disc has the inestimable advantage of giving us an act per disc.

Out-and-out Straussians may want to wait for the truly complete versions that may come later. On the other hand, those are hardly likely to surpass the conductor, orchestra and cast assembled here, all of whom had benefited by career-long experience of the work, and convey with entire conviction the moral dilemmas and psychological confusions of Hoffmannsthal's involved scenario. Strauss is well served by them. The work itself being so difficult to stage, benefits a lot from being heard in the home where one can imagine for oneself the fantastical milieus and supernatural interventions predicated by the authors—not to mention the pleasure of watching the intricate workings of Strauss's most ambitious score. Now please can we have the Böhm/Rysanek Elektra, Böhm's final homage to Strauss, and possibly Rysanek's greatest achievement

-- Gramophone [2/1986]
review of original release, DG 415473
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Works on This Recording

1.
Die Frau ohne Schatten, Op. 65 by Richard Strauss
Performer:  Birgit Nilsson (Soprano), Leonie Rysanek (Soprano), Ruth Hesse (Mezzo Soprano),
James King (Tenor), Walter Berry (Bass Baritone), Peter Wimberger (Bass),
Ewald Aichberger (Tenor), Gertrude Jahn (Alto), Hans Helm (Baritone),
Lorenzo Alvary (Bass), Murray Dickie (Tenor), Lotte Rysanek (Soprano)
Conductor:  Karl Böhm
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna State Opera Chorus,  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1914-1918; Germany 
Date of Recording: 1977 
Venue:  Live  Vienna State Opera House 
Length: 175 Minutes 4 Secs. 
Language: German 

Sound Samples

Die Frau ohne Schatten, Op.65 / Act 1: Licht über'm See
Die Frau ohne Schatten, Op.65 / Act 1: Amme, wachst du?
Die Frau ohne Schatten, Op.65 / Act 1: Ist mein Liebster dahin?
Die Frau ohne Schatten, Op.65 / Act 1: Wie soll ich denn nicht weinen?
Die Frau ohne Schatten, Op.65 / Act 1: Amme, um alles, wo find' ich dein Schatten
Die Frau ohne Schatten, Op.65 / Act 1: Erdenflug
Die Frau ohne Schatten, Op.65 / Act 1: Dieb! Da nimm!/"Reiss ihn nach hinten"/"Zu hilfe
Die Frau ohne Schatten, Op.65 / Act 1: Sie aus dem Hause
Die Frau ohne Schatten, Op.65 / Act 1: Dritthalb Jahr bin ich dein Weib
Die Frau ohne Schatten, Op.65 / Act 1: Was wollt' ich hier?
Die Frau ohne Schatten, Op.65 / Act 1: Ach, Herrin, süße Herrin!
Die Frau ohne Schatten, Op.65 / Act 1: Hat es dich blutige Tränen gekostet
Die Frau ohne Schatten, Op.65 / Act 1: Mutter, Mutter, laß uns nach Hause!
Die Frau ohne Schatten, Op.65 / Act 1: Trag' ich die Ware selber zum Markt/"Ihr Gatten in
Die Frau ohne Schatten, Op.65 / Act 2: Komm bald wieder nach Haus, mein Gebieter
Die Frau ohne Schatten, Op.65 / Act 2: WAs ist nun deine Rede, du Prinzessin/"O Tag des
Die Frau ohne Schatten, Op.65 / Act 2: Orchesterzwischenspiel (Orchestral Interlude)
Die Frau ohne Schatten, Op.65 / Act 2: Falke, Falke, du Wiedergefundener
Die Frau ohne Schatten, Op.65 / Act 2: Es gibt derer, die haben immer Zeit
Die Frau ohne Schatten, Op.65 / Act 2: Schlange, was hab ich
Die Frau ohne Schatten, Op.65 / Act 2: "Ein Handwerk verstehst du sicher nicht" / "Um Nahrung für mich gräme dich nicht!"
Die Frau ohne Schatten, Op.65 / Act 2: Wer da?
Die Frau ohne Schatten, Op.65 / Act 2: Sieh - Amme - sieh
Die Frau ohne Schatten, Op.65 / Act 2: Wehe, mein Mann!
Die Frau ohne Schatten, Op.65 / Act 2: Es dunkelt, daß ich nicht sehe zur Arbeit
Die Frau ohne Schatten, Op.65 / Act 2: Es gibt derer
Die Frau ohne Schatten, Op.65 / Act 2: Das Weib ist irre - Barak, ich hab' es nicht getan!

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