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Strauss: Salome - Orozco-Estrada

Strauss: Salome - Orozco-Estrada

PentaTone Classics  PTC 5186 602 (2 discs)

Stereo/Multichannel Hybrid

Classical - Opera


Strauss: Salome

Wolfgang Koch (Jochanaan)
Michaela Schuster (Herodias)
Benjamin Bruns (Narraboth)
Peter Bronder (Herodes)
Emily Magee (Salome)
Claude Eichenberger (Page)
Frankfurt Radio Symphony
Andres Orozco-Estrada (conductor)


Desire. Brutality. Lust. Slyness. Anxiety. What a fascinatingly menacing thematic melange is seething in this Salome. Richard Strauss, the “nervous contrapuntalist,” immediately recognized the potential of Oscar Wilde’s play, and proceeded to add to it a musical meta-plane, which resulted in Salome becoming the scandalous new point of departure for opera in the 20th century.

In its vivid psychological depiction of a corrupt world, Salome is, at the same time, both child of and witness to the dawning of the 20th century – a reflection of a moribund late-bourgeois era, captivated by its own putrefaction. The opera hit the nerve of the times. Strauss poured the Salome catastrophe into a one-act opera lasting a mere 100 minutes. However, these are 100 highly condensed minutes, which demand the listener’s full and uninterrupted attention; first torturing him emotionally and then trickling the venom of sweet, seductive music into his ears and mind; laying his nerves bare, then making him tremble in aroused expectation.

This album, featuring the young, up-and-coming conductor Andrés Orozco-Estrada leading the hr Symphony Orchestra (= formerly Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra) is a live recording of a concert given on September 10, 2016 in Frankfurt. The critics were enthusiastic: “The title role was wonderfully relaxed, all the essential components were in general harmonious, and Andrés Orozco-Estrada emphasized the power of the orchestra.” Indeed, Orozco-Estrada surrounded his Salome with outstanding soloists of the German opera repertoire: Wolfgang Koch (Jochanaan), Peter Bronder (Herod), and Michaela Schuster (Herodias). The American soprano Emily Magee made her début as Salome in Berlin in 2011. Since then, she has developed into a true Strauss specialist – and not only in this role. The Frankfurter Rundschau praised her “readily appealing, powerful and untiring soprano voice, which never gets drowned, not even in the orchestral tutti. Her face was a fascinating reflection of the slyness, the caprices, the bitchiness of a pampered princess.”

 

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PCM recording

Recorded live at the Alte Oper Frankfurt, September 10th 2016, 24/48

Executive producer (PENTATONE): Renaud Loranger

Executive producer (hr): Michael Traub

Recording producer: Christoph Claßen

Balance engineer: Thomas Eschler

Editing & mixing: Christoph Claßen
Reviews (1)
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Review by Graham Williams - March 9, 2018

The appearance of the first recording on SACD of Strauss's opera Salome is certainly to be welcomed and while, in performance terms, it does not supplant earlier CD recordings from Solti, Karajan and Sinopoli to name just three distinguished accounts of the score, it has many virtues not the least of which is the splendid sound quality the engineers have obtained in the fine acoustic of the Alte Oper in Frankfurt where the work was recorded live on September 10, 2016.

The most compelling reason for purchasing this set is the performance of the title role by the American soprano Emily Magee. She possesses both the vocal allure and essential stamina for this most demanding of roles. Her gleaming top notes cut through even the heaviest orchestral textures while her lower register is strong and firm. In all respects a fine portrayal of the petulant princess. As the prophet Jokanaan, Wolfgang Koch sings with great authority and it is pleasing to note that his utterances, while incarcerated in the cistern, are realistically balanced and never drowned by the orchestra. Peter Bronder is an experienced Herod and though in dramatic terms he characterises the role of the lustful and neurotic Tetrarch perfectly, his vocalisation is at times forced and on occasions alarmingly unsteady. In contrast Michaela Schuster's viperish Herodias impresses with the firmness and clarity of her singing as does the ardent Narraboth of Benjamin Bruns whose lyrical tenor does not disappoint.

From the outset of the opera Orozco-Estrada's priority seems to be to stress the sensuous nature of the music while at the same time teasing out details in Strauss's kaleidoscopic orchestration that are often lost in other recordings. Though this does result in tempi that are somewhat broader than usual, the benefits of Orozco-Estrada's approach quickly becomes evident as the drama unfolds. In addition the playing of the Frankfurt Radio Symphony is simply magnificent in both its tonal richness and attack – easily the equal of more prestigious orchestras in Vienna or Berlin. Orozco-Estrada's sinuous account of the famous 'Dance of the 7 Veils' exemplifies both the quality of these musicians and this conductor's carefully considered and valid approach to the score.

Comparative timings with the versions mentioned above reveal no surprises:
Orozco-Estrada 1hr 52 min,
Karajan 1hr 45min
Sinopoli 1hr 42 min,
Solti 1hr 39 min


The small roles are essayed with singers of variable quality, but the five Jews led by Michel Preger deserve praise for the notable clarity and precision that they (and the conductor) bring to the complex ensemble passage of theological arguments (track 20).

One is grateful that PENTATONE has included the full German /English text of the opera libretto with the two discs even though the English translation of the libretto from Wilde's original French reproduced here is that by Lord Alfred Douglas, first published in 1894, with which Wilde was apparently not entirely satisfied.

As with Orozco-Estrada's previous Frankfurt releases for PENTATONE the recording is in High-res PCM not DSD, but the Hessischer Rundfunk engineers have done a marvellous job in capturing not only microscopic details in the score but also its full dynamic range. Thankfully there are no traces of the audience nor applause to distract from the opera's shattering conclusion.

Recommended.

Copyright © 2018 Graham Williams and HRAudio.net

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Comment by Ray Latham - January 14, 2018 (1 of 10)

This is classical Album of the Week in The Sunday Times "Culture" section today (14 January 2018). The critic (Hugh Canning) praises in particular the singing of Emily Magee in the title role and the orchestral playing. I've not yet heard it myself but have decided to investigate when funds permit.

Comment by hiredfox - January 30, 2018 (2 of 10)

Recorded at live performance, this is wonderfully atmospheric and brilliantly performed. Emily Magee is magisterial in the leading role and wonderfully convincing although I thought it best for my health not to imagine her doing the dance of the seven veils. A pity Pentatone spoilt everything a little by having recorded the opera in PCM, bringing an unnatural harshness to Emily's voice and upper strings. No doubt this was the result of limitations in recording facilities or equipment at the venue.

A pity but an excellent disc all round otherwise 'even' in stereo. 5 ch fans are in for a treat. Don't save up for this, go buy and to hell with your overdraft, it's that good.

Comment by john hunter - March 11, 2018 (3 of 10)

What's up Pentatone?
No releases announced after June and no more Remastered Classics?.
We used to have a years releases announced at the beginning of the year and now we are told nothing after June.

Comment by hiredfox - March 12, 2018 (4 of 10)

Are you concerned John? Should we be?

Lots of good stuff from them of late so maybe they are widening their net away from core repertory and choosing carefully. Maybe by showing too many cards too soon they have realised that they may have handed an advantage to rivals - not that there are too many of those.

This Salome recording is an incredible achievement and deserves huge success.

Comment by Jan Arell - March 13, 2018 (5 of 10)

Hiredfox, I’m curious about what 5 ch treats you refer to.

Comment by hiredfox - March 14, 2018 (6 of 10)

The sound-stage in stereo is simply amazing so with stuff coming at you from all angles the sense of realism should be exceptional but juts a hunch.

Comment by fausto kantiano - March 21, 2018 (7 of 10)

interesting new Pentatone discs planned: another Pletnev Shostakovich forthcoming (4 & 10) in July and I'm curious as to Alisa Weilerstein's forthcoming disc with Haydn and Schoenberg, planned for August: two Haydn concertos and Verklärte Nacht with the Trondheim soloists, hopefully in full DSD! http://trondheimsolistene.no/news/alisa-weilerstein-new-artistic-partner/.

Also: Stravinsky's Persephone under Salonen. Has Salonen also signed to Pentatone, or is this a one-off?

Comment by john hunter - March 21, 2018 (8 of 10)

Shame no more remastered quad recordings but good to hear the news.

Comment by diw - March 22, 2018 (9 of 10)

July
Shostakovich Symphonies 4 & 10
Mikhail Pletnev , Russian National Orchestra
Dmitri Shostakovich

Mephisto Album - Kevin Short
Lawrence Foster, Kevin Short , Orchestre Philharmonique de Marseille

Richard Strauss - Alpine Symphony
Andrés Orozco - Estrada , Frankfurt Radio Symphony
Richard Strauss

August
Barber/Rouse/Shephard/Currier/Bunch
Carlos Kalmar , Oregon Symphony Orchestra

Stravinsky - Perséphone
Esa-Pekka Salonen, Andrew Staples
Igor Stravinsky
Finnish National Opera


Weilerstein - Haydn/Schoenberg
Alisa Weilerstein
Franz Joseph Haydn, Arnold Schönberg
Trondheim Soloists


Gordon Getty - New Choral Works
James Gaffigan , Netherlands Radio Symphony Orchestra
Gordon Getty

September
PENTATONE OXINGALE SERIES ''Composer Portrait Isang Yun''
Matt Haimovitz

Ricky Gordon - The House Without a Christmas Tree
Houston Grand Opera

Comment by diw - March 30, 2018 (10 of 10)

Here is the rest of the year now posted:
2018
April
Martinu - Double Concertos
Lawrence Foster, Mari Kodama, Momo Kodama, Sarah Nemtanu, Deborah Nemtanu, Magali Demesse , Orchestre Philharmonique de Marseille
Bohuslav Martinů

Hidden Gems for Reed Quintet
Calefax


Maurice Ravel and George Gershwin - Piano Concertos
Kazuki Yamada, Denis Kozhukhin , Orchestre de la Suisse Romande
Maurice Ravel, George Gershwin

A Certain Slant of Light
Lisa Delan, Lawrence Foster , Orchestre Philharmonique de Marseille
Gordon Getty, Jake Heggie, Aaron Copland, Michael Tilson Thomas

May
Prologue - Francesca Aspromonte
Francesca Aspromonte, Enrico Onofri
il pomo d'oro


Les pêcheurs de perles (The Pearl Fishers)
Julie Fuchs, Cyrille Dubois, Florian Sempey, Luc Bertin-Hugault, Alexandre Bloch , Orchestre National de Lille
Georges Bizet

Bartok & Kodaly - Concertos for Orchestra
Jakub Hrůša , Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin
Béla Bartók, Zoltán Kodály

June
Haydn - The Creation
Andrés Orozco - Estrada, Nicole Heaston, Peter Rose, Toby Spence , Houston Symphony
Franz Joseph Haydn

Mendelssohn - Symphony No 2
Andrew Manze, Anna Lucia Richter, Esther Dierckes, Robin Tritschler , NDR Radiophilharmonie
Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy

Mason Bates - The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs
The Santa Fe Opera

PENTATONE OXINGALE SERIES "Tippet Rise Opus 2017"
Matt Haimovitz, Anne-Marie McDermott, Yevgeny Sudbin, Jeffrey Kahane, Andrea Lam, Jessica Sindell, Caroline Goulding, David Fung, Vicky Chow, Doug Perkins

July
Shostakovich Symphonies 4 & 10
Mikhail Pletnev , Russian National Orchestra
Dmitri Shostakovich

Mephisto and Other Bad Guys - Kevin Short
Lawrence Foster, Kevin Short , Orchestre Philharmonique de Marseille

Richard Strauss - Alpine Symphony
Andrés Orozco - Estrada , Frankfurt Radio Symphony
Richard Strauss

August
Barber/Rouse/Shephard/Currier/Bunch
Carlos Kalmar , Oregon Symphony Orchestra

Stravinsky - Perséphone
Esa-Pekka Salonen, Andrew Staples
Igor Stravinsky
Finnish National Opera


Weilerstein - Haydn/Schoenberg
Alisa Weilerstein
Franz Joseph Haydn, Arnold Schönberg
Trondheim Soloists


Gordon Getty - New Choral Works
James Gaffigan , Netherlands Radio Symphony Orchestra
Gordon Getty

September
PENTATONE OXINGALE SERIES ''Composer Portrait Isang Yun''
Matt Haimovitz

French, German and Russian Dances Box Set

Ricky Gordon - The House Without a Christmas Tree
Houston Grand Opera


October
Richard Strauss Violin Concerto
Arabella Steinbacher, Lawrence Foster , WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne
Richard Strauss

Stravinsky - The Rite of Spring
Gustavo Gimeno , Orchestre Philharmonique Luxembourg
Igor Stravinsky

Schubert - Symphonies 1 & 6
René Jacobs
Franz Peter Schubert
B'Rock Orchestra


Gospel Christmas
Charles Floyd , Oregon Symphony Orchestra

Tchaikovsky - Swan Lake
Vladimir Jurowski , State Academic Symphony/GASO
Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Russian Violin Concertos (vinyl)

November
Lutoslawski & Dutilleux Cello Concertos
Johannes Moser, Thomas Sondegaard , Radio Symphony Orchestra Berlin
Witold Lutoslawski, Henri Dutilleux

Johann Strauss Jr - Die Fledermaus
Lawrence Foster, Nikolai Schukoff, Laura Aikin, Jochen Schmeckenbecher, Elisabeth Kulman, Christian Elsner, Mathias Hausmann, Alexander Kaimbacher, Annika Gerhards, Alice Waginger, Kurt Rydl , NDR Radiophilharmonie
Johann Strauss Jr.

Rossini!
Michele Mariotti , Orchestra del Teatro Comunale di Bologna
Gioachino Rossini

PENTATONE OXINGALE SERIES "Angel Heart"

Debussy - La Mer
Gustavo Gimeno , Orchestre Philharmonique Luxembourg
Claude Debussy