R Strauss: Der Rosenkavalier

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: R Strauss
LABELS: Glyndebourne
WORKS: Der Rosenkavalier
PERFORMER: Montserrat Caballé, Otto Edelmann, Teresa Zylis-Gara, John Modenos, Edith Mathis, David Hughes, Angela Jenkins, John Andrew, Anna Reynolds; The Glyndebourne Chorus; London Philharmonic Orchestra/John Pritchard (recorded live, Glyndebourne 1965)
CATALOGUE NO: Glyndebourne GFOCD 010-65

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Fans of Montserrat Caballé will be delighted with the chance to hear her Marschallin from Glyndebourne, though to catch the great Spanish soprano at her Straussian finest, turn to her outstanding Salome (on Sony, reviewed July 2010). From the booklet we learn that she turned up for this 1965 revival not knowing the part and suffering from hay fever.
 
She was in the right zone by 30 May, clearly enjoying the Act I badinage with Baron Ochs and, by the time of the monologue, floating her famous pianissimos, not always in the expected places. But, among the leads, only Otto Edelmann’s idiomatically Viennese Baron, with his ringing top notes, sounds truly comfortable at all times.
 
Part of the problem must rest with John Pritchard’s erratic conducting, very wayward tempo-wise in the crucial Act I confrontation between a now-philosophical Marschallin and her uncomprehending 17-year-old lover. Tuning problems bedevil Teresa Zylis-Gara’s Octavian (occasionally sharp) and Edith Mathis’s Sophie (flat when it matters). Still, both are fine voices, and the trio hits home where it matters. Stalwart Glyndebourne support includes Anna Reynolds as Annina and Ryland Davies as the Marschallin’s Major-Domo. 
 
Once accustomed to a seat some way back in the dry old theatre, you’ll find the sound in good order, woodwind and solo players characterful in chamber mode. But so they are, too, on Edo De Waart’s Philips recording, and overall that’s a much happier proposition. David Nice