R Strauss: Salome

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: R Strauss
LABELS: Philips
WORKS: Salome
PERFORMER: Jessye Norman, James Morris, Walter Raffeiner, Kerstin WittDresden Staatskapelle/Seiji Ozawa
CATALOGUE NO: 432 153-2 DDD
‘New woman’ or ‘castrating, bloodsucking harpie’? With Jessye Norman’s assumption of the title role, one she’s unlikely to attempt on stage (unless under a producer with a radical new slant), the ambiguity of Salome’s character is further highlighted. As one would expect, Norman’s natural richness of voice rarely conveys the impression of Salome the obsessive, over-sexed teenager; more the inhibited thirty-something, teetering on the verge of middle age and trying for one last fling. But even so, is her careful, lieder singer’s attention to verbal detail quite what’s needed in the final erotic stream of consciousness? It takes the magnificently uninhibited yet transparent playing of the Dresden Staatskapelle, the Strauss orchestra par excellence, to convince here, as it does throughout, even at moments when Seiji Ozawa chooses to make gratuitous departures from Strauss’s own tempo markings.

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Excellent contributions too from James Morris, at his best as a no-nonsense good guy like Jochanaan, Richard Leech as a touching Narraboth, Walter Raffeiner as a vivid, heldentenor Herod and Kerstin Witt as a strident Herodias. Worth hearing, but go to Solti/Nilsson (Decca) for thrills or Karajan/Behrens (EMI) for beauty. Antony Bye