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Famous Scenes

Richard Strauss Audio CD
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 39.68
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1. Arabella: Aber der Richtige wenns einen gibt - Hilde Gueden
2. Ariadne auf Naxos: Es ist alles vergebens Es gibt ein Reich - Leontyne Price
3. Der Rosenkavalier: Mein Gott! Es warnicht mehr als eine Farce - Regine Crespin
4. Elektra: Allein! Weh ganz allein - Birgit Nilsson
5. Die Frau ohne Schatten: Sieh - Amme - sieh...Zum Lebenswasser!... Wehe mein Mann! - Leonie Rysanek
6. Salome: Salomes Tanz der sieben Schleier - Wiener Philharmoniker
7. Salome: Es ist keinLaut zu vernehmen - Anja Silja

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Customer Reviews

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4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent introduction to Strauss Nov. 17 2003
By V. Chau
Richard Strauss wrote great operatic music, but his music is not as accessible as that of Puccini or Verdi. It will take some time getting used to listening to his more dissonant music, but it is worth it.
This is an excellent compilation disc from Decca. The sound on all the selections is good, but the excerpt from "Die Frau ohne Schatten" has dated sound. Decca provides a booklet that contains notes and texts with English translations. This is a big help in understanding the sung words.
The first excerpt is the glorious soprano duet from "Arabella", sung ravishingly by Lisa della Casa and Hilde Güden. These two sopranos soar over Strauss' exquisite orchestration. It is a delight to hear their ethereal upper registers. No other composer wrote better soaring music for sopranos to sing. Strauss was truly a master of this type of music. The excerpt from "Ariadne auf Naxos" is well sung by Leontyne Price. The fabulous trio from "Der Rosenkavalier" is sung ravishingly by Régine Crespin, Hilde Güden, and Elisabeth Söderström. Notice the clear German diction of these three singers. The music for this trio contains some ravishing string writing. Elektra's Monologue is sung magnificently by Birgit Nilsson. Her high notes, especially the high C at the end, are incredibly powerful and rock-steady. She inflects the aria superbly. You can really hear her longing for her dead father in her repeated cries of "Agamemnon". Leonie Rysanek is incredible in the Empress' Dream Sequence from "Die Frau ohne Schatten". The high tessitura poses no problem for her and she sings with smoldering involvement. Some of the orchestral music in this passage is positively gorgeous. Herbert von Karajan conducts a wonderful performance of the Dance of the Seven Veils.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Good Buy For Lovers of Strauss May 29 2001
By spock2
I will rate this CD by track.
1. Arabella (Della Casa / Gueden) Excellent -- Wish there was more. 2. Ariadne (Price) Ill Cast -- Look elsewhere. 3. Rosenkavalier (Crispin / Gueden) Very Good -- One can never tire of the Trio and Finale of this opera. 4. Elektra (Nilsson) Classic -- A great scene from the best recording of this opera. 5. Frau (Rysanek) Good -- The right performer, decent sound for 1955, but there are far better scenes to excerpt. 6. Salome -- Seven Veils -- Doesn't fit in with theme of famous scenes with sopranos, would rather have more singing. 7. Salome (Silja) -- Superb -- A good reason to buy this CD; never knew of this interpretation beforehand. It is really great.
Overall -- Four Stars -- because of Price, who is not good as Ariadne; the wasted space with the Dance of the Seven Veils; and the poor scene selection from Frau. But the other selections are good, and the Frau is good too, but could have been better.
If you love Strauss, this CD should be in your collection.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Essential Strauss Opera April 14 2001
By Jason
For anyone wanting to try the operas of Richard Strauss, one need not look much further than this compilation of excerpts from several of his operas. As critics and academics have begun to take Strauss more seriously over the past decade or so (and been less likely to engage in politically-charged character assassination), even his formerly-neglected later works have received more performances and been recorded with greater frequency.
This compilation includes excerpts from some of those lesser-known operas, including "Arabella" (1933) and the increasingly better-known "Die Frau Ohne Schatten" (1919). Ironically, these are the oldest excerpts on the recording, including a crisp "Arabella" from 1957 with supreme Straussian conductor Georg Solti and supreme Straussian singer Lisa Della Casa, as well as a rough-sounding "Frau Ohne Schatten" excerpt from 1955 (but then, it's conducted by Strauss' friend Karl Bohm, which makes up for it). Solti also makes an appearance on this album for a 1979 recording of "Es Gibt ein Reich" from "Ariadne auf Naxos," which seems to have hovered for years in limbo between the three major Strauss operas and "lesser" Strauss works.
Although I like the other excerpts, my greatest affection is still reserved for those three major operas: Rosenkavalier, Elektra, and Salome. Solti returns to this recording for a third appearance (this time armed with Birgit Nilsson) for a thundering interpretation of Elektra's soliloquy over her father's grave, fantasizing about vengeance against her mother and her mother's love-toy for his murder. This excerpt comes from Solti's complete 1967 recording, for some reason no longer available in the States.
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Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Good Buy For Lovers of Strauss May 29 2001
By spock2 - Published on Amazon.com
I will rate this CD by track.
1. Arabella (Della Casa / Gueden) Excellent -- Wish there was more. 2. Ariadne (Price) Ill Cast -- Look elsewhere. 3. Rosenkavalier (Crispin / Gueden) Very Good -- One can never tire of the Trio and Finale of this opera. 4. Elektra (Nilsson) Classic -- A great scene from the best recording of this opera. 5. Frau (Rysanek) Good -- The right performer, decent sound for 1955, but there are far better scenes to excerpt. 6. Salome -- Seven Veils -- Doesn't fit in with theme of famous scenes with sopranos, would rather have more singing. 7. Salome (Silja) -- Superb -- A good reason to buy this CD; never knew of this interpretation beforehand. It is really great.
Overall -- Four Stars -- because of Price, who is not good as Ariadne; the wasted space with the Dance of the Seven Veils; and the poor scene selection from Frau. But the other selections are good, and the Frau is good too, but could have been better.
If you love Strauss, this CD should be in your collection.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential Strauss Opera April 14 2001
By Jason - Published on Amazon.com
For anyone wanting to try the operas of Richard Strauss, one need not look much further than this compilation of excerpts from several of his operas. As critics and academics have begun to take Strauss more seriously over the past decade or so (and been less likely to engage in politically-charged character assassination), even his formerly-neglected later works have received more performances and been recorded with greater frequency.
This compilation includes excerpts from some of those lesser-known operas, including "Arabella" (1933) and the increasingly better-known "Die Frau Ohne Schatten" (1919). Ironically, these are the oldest excerpts on the recording, including a crisp "Arabella" from 1957 with supreme Straussian conductor Georg Solti and supreme Straussian singer Lisa Della Casa, as well as a rough-sounding "Frau Ohne Schatten" excerpt from 1955 (but then, it's conducted by Strauss' friend Karl Bohm, which makes up for it). Solti also makes an appearance on this album for a 1979 recording of "Es Gibt ein Reich" from "Ariadne auf Naxos," which seems to have hovered for years in limbo between the three major Strauss operas and "lesser" Strauss works.
Although I like the other excerpts, my greatest affection is still reserved for those three major operas: Rosenkavalier, Elektra, and Salome. Solti returns to this recording for a third appearance (this time armed with Birgit Nilsson) for a thundering interpretation of Elektra's soliloquy over her father's grave, fantasizing about vengeance against her mother and her mother's love-toy for his murder. This excerpt comes from Solti's complete 1967 recording, for some reason no longer available in the States. Although there are other wonderful interpretations of Strauss' 1909 shocker (especially Wolfgang Sawallisch's 1990 recording, also unavailable in the States), none match Solti's for sheer horror and brutality. This little nibble gives just a taste of its acidity.
Preceding the brutality of the "Elektra," one can swoon to the dreamy, "himmlisch" trio from "Der Rosenkavalier." It begins after the humiliation of the boorish character Baron Ochs, then builds to what's become known as the trio. Prior to this recording, I had never heard of the conductor Silvio Varviso, but he leads one of the most beautiful trios I've ever heard. The horns whoop in something that comes close to Liebestod-like ecstasy at the climax, with the three singers flowing naturally with the music. For me, this version (as well as the Renee Fleming/Susan Graham/Barbara Bonney trio under Christoph Eschenbach) comes very close to the listening experience Sam Abel describes in "Opera in the Flesh"; an aural "menage-a-quatre," culminating in a sweet and sad feeling of ecstatic release.
For those seeking a less sentimental and more dangerous form of ecstatic release, two (Yes... two!) excerpts from "Salome" round out the recording. Strauss "meister" Herbert von Karajan conducts a savagely silky "Dance of the Seven Veils" from 1960, culminating in a sensually feline climax during the waltz-like portion of Salome's striptease for her stepfather. After the dance pounds away to its conclusion, Salome awaits her reward: the head of the holy man Jokanaan on a silver platter. The recording of this excerpt of the final scene comes from 1974, with Christoph von Dohnanyi (who also works wonders with his insightful performances of Strauss) conducting future wife Anja Silja in a performance that transforms the horror of the scene into an object of beauty. Silja's voice pierces the orchestra like a silver bullet in this night of moonlit madness, with its nightmarish phantasms of a fin de siecle Vienna, of obsessive lust consuming all in its path, of sexual (and perhaps spiritual) transfiguration proclaimed by the cosmic ascension of horns at the final scene's climax.
For anyone wanting to try Richard Strauss' operas, this mid-priced compilation of excerpts provides an excellent starting point. Even for Straussians (or at least those who don't have the complete operas from which many of these excerpts derive), this compilation includes some wonderful highlights. In short... highly recommended for anyone who likes mind-blowing music.
5.0 out of 5 stars Decca Raids its Archives, Returns with Excellent Strauss Opera Highlights Dec 31 2013
By jt52 - Published on Amazon.com
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This selection from 25 years of Decca/London archives provides a well-judged selection of both famous and lesser-known highlights from their many recordings of Richard Strauss major stage works. As Strauss focused on women singers, this disc almost completely consists of female leads. I will review the tracks one by one below but my general comment is that the performances are very high level, the music is mostly beautiful and the re-mastering is expert. So this compilation makes for an efficient way to dip your oars in the waters of Strauss opera or, if you are more experienced, to gain exposure to some new performances.

The tracks, in order:

Arabella: The best known number from this 1930s opera (“Aber der Richtige”) is placed first. This is the 1957 Lisa della Casa recording done with Georg Solti and soprano Hilda Gueden, not a slightly earlier Della Casa version. I think it is a nice recording of an attractive number. My heart will always be with the early 1950s Elisabeth Schwarzkopf recording but I enjoyed this one. All of the tracks here, with the exception of “Ariadne auf Naxos”, feature the Vienna Philharmonic, by the way.

Ariadne auf Naxos: An excerpt from the 1977 Leontyne Price release, this probably qualifies as the weakest performance on this disc. I have reviewed the entire Ariadne release on Amazon and gave it 4 stars. It is a decent performance overall – really marked by Edita Gruberova rather than Price – but not first rank.

Rosenkavalier: The famous Act III Trio with surrounding passages is presented here in a 20-minute track that forms the longest single item on this disc. This 1964 performance led by the great French soprano Regine Crespin as the Marschallin has been a discovery for me. She is joined here by Elisabeth Soderstrom and, again, Hilde Gueden. They present a more direct and simpler interpretation of this complex music than the famous Elisabeth Schwarzkopf/Karajan performance. I plan on seeking out this separately-recorded highlights disc. It is lovely.

Elektra: The well-known Birgit Nilsson/George Solti 1966 recording is featured here through the most famous number from the quasi-expressionist “Elektra”. Solti does a bang-up job – I very much enjoyed both the energy of the conducting and the carefully-judged instrumental balances he and the Vienna Phil generate. Nilsson is also very strong in what is a technically very difficult aria.

The Woman without a Shadow: This isn’t my favorite Strauss but Decca includes the famous Leonie Rysanek version done with Karl Bohm in 1955, the earliest recording found here. It’s a good sampling of this opera in a leading performance.

Salome: Dance of the Seven Veils: This track is from the Herbert von Karajan/Vienna Philharmonic orchestral disc from 1960. It is a very good performance, although I prefer Karajan’s two later recordings.

Salome: Finale: This track represents another discovery for me, so I very much appreciate Decca including this mostly-forgotten performance rather than the obvious choice, their release of the famous Birgit Nilsson/Solti performance. Here we have a 1973 performance with Anja Silja as Salome and the Vienna Phil. led by a young Christoph von Dohnanyi. Silja is virtuosic and the performers do the 15-minute-long final scene with technical accomplishment. I plan on getting the entire recording based on this excerpt.

To repeat, the remastering done here is very strong. Tracks like the Salome Final Scene and Elektra sound exceptionally good. I really enjoyed this disc and recommend it.
4 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent introduction to Strauss Nov. 17 2003
By V. Chau - Published on Amazon.com
Richard Strauss wrote great operatic music, but his music is not as accessible as that of Puccini or Verdi. It will take some time getting used to listening to his more dissonant music, but it is worth it.
This is an excellent compilation disc from Decca. The sound on all the selections is good, but the excerpt from "Die Frau ohne Schatten" has dated sound. Decca provides a booklet that contains notes and texts with English translations. This is a big help in understanding the sung words.
The first excerpt is the glorious soprano duet from "Arabella", sung ravishingly by Lisa della Casa and Hilde Güden. These two sopranos soar over Strauss' exquisite orchestration. It is a delight to hear their ethereal upper registers. No other composer wrote better soaring music for sopranos to sing. Strauss was truly a master of this type of music. The excerpt from "Ariadne auf Naxos" is well sung by Leontyne Price. The fabulous trio from "Der Rosenkavalier" is sung ravishingly by Régine Crespin, Hilde Güden, and Elisabeth Söderström. Notice the clear German diction of these three singers. The music for this trio contains some ravishing string writing. Elektra's Monologue is sung magnificently by Birgit Nilsson. Her high notes, especially the high C at the end, are incredibly powerful and rock-steady. She inflects the aria superbly. You can really hear her longing for her dead father in her repeated cries of "Agamemnon". Leonie Rysanek is incredible in the Empress' Dream Sequence from "Die Frau ohne Schatten". The high tessitura poses no problem for her and she sings with smoldering involvement. Some of the orchestral music in this passage is positively gorgeous. Herbert von Karajan conducts a wonderful performance of the Dance of the Seven Veils. This passage from "Salome" is perfectly evocative of Salome's sadistic nature. However, it doesn't sound like it is particularly easy music to dance to. The last excerpt is a woefully inadequate reading of Salome's Final Scene. Anja Silja characterizes Salome's different moods quite well, but her voice is not up to the music's demands. Her voice is whitish in color and quite small. Her high notes are often plagued with a slow wobble. Why couldn't Decca have included the Final Scene from Georg Solti's studio recording with Nilsson as Salome? Throughout the disc, the wonderful Vienna Philharmonic plays Strauss' music beautifully. In the excerpt from "Ariadne auf Naxos", the London Philharmonic plays wonderfully.
If you are looking for an introduction to the operatic music of Richard Strauss, this disc is it. Highly recommended.
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