Notes and Editorial Reviews
This is a hybrid Super Audio CD playable on both regular and Super Audio CD players.
A dance of the revisited veils in this rare, sumptuous music by Strauss
Richard Strauss’s Josephslegende (1914) is a truly extraordinary work. It was written for Diaghilev, who wanted something sensational to follow The Rite of Spring. But Nijinsky was unable to take the title-role planned for him, and it was the young Massine as substitute who had to dance what Nijinsky later described as “undanceable music”. But Nijinsky also had an eccentric hand in the extraordinary scenario, and he was responsible for including a divertissement for semi-naked
Turkish boxers who are nothing to do with the basic biblical story. That tells of the attempted and unsuccessful seduction of Joseph by Potiphar’s wife, her suicide after her failure, the attempt by the suspicious Potiphar to torture the innocent David, and his celestial rescue by an angel who frees him from his bonds.
All this drew from Strauss a richly sensuous score, in many ways an amalgam of his previous successes, predominantly Salome, in the voluptuous dances of the veiled and unveiled women near the begining, climaxed by “Sulamith’s dance” of burning desire. But the spectacle of the Alpine Symphony, the passion of Don Juan, the hyperbole of Ein Heldenleben, to say nothing of a touch of Death and Transfiguration, are all mixed in. The booklet offers an elaborate cued synopsis of the narrative, so that one can relate Strauss’s extraordinary score to what is being described.
Iván Fischer and the enlarged Budapest Festival Orchestra give a magnificent account of the work, readily going over the sensual top when Strauss demands it, but with Fischer ensuring that Strauss’s underlying lyrical flow moves seamlessly but erotically onwards to the final climax. This is surely a work for sumptuous surround sound, which is exactly what the Channel Classics recording team provide, and very impressively, too.
-- Ivan March, Gramophone [7/2007]
Works on This Recording
Josephslegende, Op. 63 by Richard Strauss
Budapest Festival Orchestra
Written: 1912-1914; Germany
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