WORKS: Excerpts from Salome, Ariadne auf Naxos, Die Liebe der Danae & Capriccio
PERFORMER: Julia Varady; Bamberg SO/Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau
CATALOGUE NO: C 511 991 A
When Julia Varady recorded two albums of Verdi heroines a few years ago they quickly became the talk of vocal connoisseurs. Now she has turned to Strauss, another composer she sang before her farewell to the operatic stage in 1998, and she is quoted in the notes accompanying this new disc making a very sensible observation: ‘As a singer one must consider Richard Strauss as bel canto, and sing him like Verdi.’ She takes her own advice to heart, and offers glowing singing free of histrionics.
Beginning this chronological survey of scenes from four great operas, she sings the closing minutes from Salome with clarity and astonishing freshness, without any of the exaggerated swooning that sometimes disfigures this music. She is limpid in Ariadne’s musings, expresses Danae’s contentment and makes a moving Countess in the closing scene of Strauss’s final opera, Capriccio.
This recording also stands out for the contributions that Varady’s husband Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau elicits from the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra. The band’s distinguished central European heritage tells in the clarity of its accompaniments, and the orchestral interludes from Danae and Capriccio represent truly aristocratic Strauss. John Allison