COMPOSERS: Richard Strauss
ALBUM TITLE: R Strauss: Elektra
PERFORMER: Michaela Schuster, Evelyn Herlitzius, Camilla Nyland, Hubert Delamboye, Gerd Grochowski; Toonkunst Choir Amsterdam; Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra/Marc Albrecht
CATALOGUE NO: CC72565
This perfectly decent live performance might have come across still better in the opera house. Marc Albrecht’s conducting, though, seems slightly lacking in voltage compared to recent scorchers such as Valery Gergiev, admittedly rather out of control (LSO Live), or the more balanced Daniele Gatti on DVD (Arthaus) from Salzburg, let alone versions such as Karl Böhm’s or Georg Solti’s. Albrecht has considerable warmth, and picks up momentum towards the end, but moments like the great recognition scene don’t have enough punch.
Much the same could be said of Evelyn Herlitzius’s Elektra; her opening ‘Allein! Weh, ganz allein’ sounds watery, and while she works hard, she doesn’t wield enough power or nervous energy. She makes less of Elektra’s awful hunger and manic drive than her final ecstasy. Camilla Nylund’s Chrysothemis has more neurotic bite, but her voice all too easily develops an unpleasant edge. Michaela Schuster is a capable mezzo, but fails to convey Klytaemnestra’s shifts between arrogance and terror, unhappily so compared to Felicity Palmer on Gergiev’s recording. Orestes calls for a haunting, doom-laden baritone, but Gerd Grochowski has a peculiarly hollow, sinusy tone and stiff delivery.
Michael Scott Rohan