Solti: Strauss - Salome, 1961 (2 CD, APE)
Solti: Strauss - Salome, 1961 (2 CD, APE)

Audio CD
Number of Discs: 2
Format: APE (image+cue)
Label: Decca
Size: 478 MB
Recovery: +3%
Scan: no

Salome, opera, Op. 54 (TrV 215)
Composed by Richard Strauss
Performed by Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
with Josephine Veasey, Tom Krause, Gerhard Stolze, Heinz Holecek, Aron Gestner, Liselotte Maikl, Kurt Equiluz, Waldemar Kmentt, Theodor Kirschbichler, Nigel Douglas, Paul Kuen, Stefan Schwer, Zenon Kosnowski, Eberhard Wachter, Birgit Nilsson, Grace Hoffmann, Max Proebstl
Conducted by Georg Solti

CD 1
01. Wie schon ist die Prinzessin Salome heute Nacht!
02. Nach mir wird Einer kommen
03. Ich will nicht bleiben
04. Siehe, der Herr ist gekommen
05. Jauchze nicht, du Land Palästina
06. Du wirst das fur mich tun
07. Wo ist er, dessen Sündenbecher jetzt voll ist?
08. Jokanaan, ich bin verliebt in deinen Leib
09. Wird dir nicht bange, Tochter der Herodias?
10. Wo ist Salome?
11. Es ist kalt hier
12. Salome, komm, trink Wein mit mir
13. Sieh, die Zeit ist gekommen
14. Wahrhaftig, Herr, es wäre besser
15. Siehe, der Tag ist nähe

CD 2
01. Eine Menge Menchen wird sich gegen sie sammeln
02. Tanz fuer mich, Salome
03. Salomes Tanz
04. Ah, Herrlich! Wundervoll
05. Still, Sprich nicht zu mir!
06. Salome, bedenk, was du tun willst
07. Man soll ihr geben, was sie verlangt!
08. Es ist kein Laut zu vernehmen
09. Ah! Du wolltest mich nicht deinen Mund kuessen lassen, Jokanaan!
10. Sie ist ein Ungeheuer, deine Tochter
11. Ah! Ich habe deinen Mund gekuesst

The one and only desert island Salome

I can, without question, blame this recording, along with Solti’s Götterdämmerung, for causing the permanent tinnitus in both my ears. When I first came upon this recording of Salome I couldn’t take it off the turntable for weeks on end. My roommates finally demanded I use earphones. Hence permanent hearing damage. I still love you, Birgit, and I can still hear you. Was this affliction worth it? Absolutely.

The old lps with the outrageously lurid and camp photo of Mme Nilsson, looking like a wall poster for the immortal B movie Attack of the 50 Foot Woman, have long been worn out It wasn’t until last week that I purchased this remastered Decca classic and I really kick myself now for depriving my soul the pleasure and thrill of this recording over all these years since the snaps, crackles and pops of the lps made them useless as pleasurable listening experiences. I switched my loyalties to the more sensuous and also beautifully sung and recorded set on EMI with Hildegard Behrens and Karajan. Then the excellent Sinopoli/Studer set came along, and the very under-rated one with Michael Schönwandt with Inga Nielson. Dohnanyi’s with Malfitano ain’t bad either. But this Nilsson Solti leviathan of a recording is unsurpassed in every department.

I remembered this recording over all those intervening years and knew I must return to it someday if only to see if it really is as magnificent as I remembered. It is! More so.

Nilsson was an amazing Salome, on record anyway. The huge, titanium voice easily over-riding the Vienna Philharmonic at full roar under Solti’s demonic direction. Alternatively she could sing on a single silvery thread of voice, like a moonbeam slipping through a chink in the window blinds, absolutely beautiful. And she acted with this splendid instrument of hers as well as anyone else I can think of. Definitely in the Maria Callas league as far as dramatic singing abilities are concerned, viscerally conveying seemingly endless nuances in the music and text.

As good as other Salomes are and no doubt will be for decades to come, I can’t imagine any one of them topping this miraculous performance. This is all pretty hyperbolic language for me but I have nothing but ecstatic admiration for the accomplishments of this team. And I don’t care what the critics of John Culshaw may say, they just don’t make brilliantly engineered recordings like this anymore. The puritans have put the kibash on this sort of theatricality resulting from what they like to call knob-twiddling. Well, twiddle away if this is the result!

If you want only one Salome in your library this is without question the one. Just listen to Eberhard Wächter’s heroic, ringing tones as John the Baptist, then move along to Salome’s big scene when Jokanaan’s head is presented to her on a silver platter. The stage picture springs to life and the imagination soars as Nilsson moves through this psychologically rugged territory and emerges triumphant in her madness at the end.

Solti proves once again that he was capable of fining down from a roar to a tinkling magical whisper the myriad of details in this score. In my opinion this is Strauss’s greatest masterpiece, which is saying something. Salome changed the musical landscape for ever when it appeared in the early years of the 20th century.

The cast is unsurpassed. Gerhard Stolze’s Herod and Grace Hoffman’s Herodias are palpably vile and decadent people. Waldemar Kmentt’s beautiful tenor perfectly conveys the love-sick young soldier, Narraboth.

Don’t hesitate to get this release while it lasts. There is a full libretto included and the remastering is splendid.

Buy this recording even if you don’t think you’d like a tale of such bloody sexual passion. It is life enhancing.

3 Comments

Leave a Reply