R. STRAUSS: Scenes from Salome and Elektra – Inge Borkh, soprano, with Paul Schoeffler, baritone, and Francis Yeend, soprano – Chicago Symphony Orchestra with the Chicago Lyric Theater Chorus, Fritz Reiner, Conductor – RCA Living Stereo

by | Oct 20, 2005 | SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

R. STRAUSS: Scenes from Salome and Elektra – Inge Borkh,
soprano, with Paul Schoeffler, baritone, and Francis Yeend, soprano –
Chicago Symphony Orchestra with the Chicago Lyric Theater Chorus, Fritz
Reiner, Conductor – RCA Living Stereo 82876-67900-2 – Stereo-Only SACD,
67 min. ****:

Fritz Reiner always had a special connection to the music of Richard
Strauss; they were personal friends, and enjoyed an artistic
collaboration that lasted 35 years, with Reiner conducting many notable
Strauss premieres. During Reiner’s tenure with the Chicago Symphony
Orchestra, he frequently programmed works by Strauss, and recorded many
of them. For this recording session, he recruited Swiss soprano and
noted Strauss specialist Inge Borkh, resulting in what is probably the
finest offering on disc of arias by Strauss heroines. Both Elektra and
Salome were quite scandalous at the time of their premieres; the
archbishop of Vienna caused the premiere of Salome to be delayed by
almost ten years in that city! Fortunately, both operas were seen in a
different light as the years passed, and are now part of the standard
repertory.

This stereo SACD is, in a nutshell, magnificent; whereas the previous
incarnations of these works on Red Book CDs were quite good, this disc
takes all aspects of the recorded sound to a higher level. The stereo
image and spread offers a much more palpable presentation of the
performance, and the dynamics are just incredible – you’ll want to play
this one loudly! Inge Borkh’s performance here is definitive – you’d be
hard pressed to find another performance that brings the characters to
life as in this splendid disc. Highly recommended.

— Tom Gibbs
 

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