R Strauss: Der Rosenkavalier

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: R Strauss
LABELS: Opus Arte
WORKS: Der Rosenkavalier
PERFORMER: Anna Tomowa-Sintow, Kurt Moll, Ann Murray, Barbara Bonney; Royal Opera Chorus & Orchestra/Andrew Davis
CATALOGUE NO: OA CD 9006 D

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Why this, of all Covent Garden Rosenkavaliers? There’s been no memento, as far as I’m aware, of Felicity Lott’s or Lucia Popp’s Marschallins, and yet Anna Tomowa-Sintow has already left an opulent reminder of a younger princess – with fewer German word-slips – on Karajan’s much-underrated and infinitely better second studio recording (DG, currently unavailable).

Kurt Moll is a genuinely basso profundo Ochs, with the repartee between him and ‘cousin’ Resi in Act I a highlight, but he is best seen and heard, as in the Metropolitan Opera DVD box. Barbara Bonney was the picture- and voice-perfect Sophie in the 1985 film of the ever-resourceful Schlesinger production; she has added the most to her role in the interim, sounding quite the woman in later stages as well as the impetuous ingénue.

Which leaves Ann Murray’s Octavian as the newcomer. By 1995 the vibrato had gone haywire under pressure; the Act I exchanges sound too much like an unrelenting parody of lovers’ sparring. But she blends touchingly with Bonney, and sets the Act II quarrel alight.

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That’s much assisted by Andrew Davis’s lively conducting. Recorded sound is vivid. A goodish, theatre-friendly performance, then, but not quite up there with the greats. David Nice