Notes and Editorial Reviews
Fans of soprano Hildegard Behrens should flock to this set if they don’t already own it–it is her finest recording. She ideally captures the girl/woman Salome, singing with perfect diction, round tone, and alternately iron will and sultry pleading. Her tone rings free at all dynamic levels and from top to bottom–she just may be the finest all-around Salome on CD. José van Dam’s Jokanaan is ferocious in its fundamentalism, but he’s also sympathetic and EMI’s engineers do wonders to make his voice seem truly grand. Agnes Baltsa, in fine voice, eats up the scenery, as does her Herod, Karl-Walter Böhm. Wieslaw Ochman is a fine Narraboth. Needless to say, the Vienna Philharmonic plays gorgeously. Herbert von Karajan’s reading of the score is much softer than some other versions, which may be a negative factor for certain listeners. Unlike Solti, he plays down the score’s violence. This isn’t a bad thing (particularly when voluptuousness and exoticism takes its place), but it definitely makes for a different experience. In short, this is a truly satisfying Salome, especially if destiny, rather than destruction, is your cup of tea.
- Robert Levine, ClassicsToday.com