Wagner, Strauss

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Strauss,Wagner
LABELS: EMI
WORKS: Scenes from Tannhäuser, Tristan und Isolde & Die Walküre; Scenes from Elektra, Ariadne auf Naxos, Die Frau ohne Schatten & Salome
PERFORMER: Deborah Voigt, Natascha Petrinsky; Bavarian RSO/Richard Armstrong
CATALOGUE NO: 5 57681 2
First the virtues… Deborah Voigt has a voice that was built for Wagner and Strauss. At top volume she cuts through the heaviest orchestration like a hot knife through butter. When did you last hear an Isolde in the closing pages of Tristan? Then Voigt’s diction is a wonder, with every word clear and given its proper musical weight. And lastly, like the best American singers of her generation, Voigt is alive to the psychology of her characters. Sieglinde as well as Isolde. By the end of ‘Die Männer sippe’ a fearful woman is radiant with sexual self-confidence. And so to the vices… Voigt is often willing to sacrifice vocal beauty for expressivity. This may be an admirable quality in Isolde’s Act I narration and almost acceptable in the closing scene of Strauss’s Freudian Grand Guignol. However, the edge on the voice can be downright ugly in Salome and Voigt’s trademark tone – bright and forward – does nothing for Ariadne in ‘Es gibt ein Reich’. But… Richard Armstrong produces a sometimes sumptuous sound from the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, although there’s no need for the horns to keep reminding us how good they are. And are there that many dramatic sopranos you would want to hear in this repertoire? Christopher Cook

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