Strauss: Fantasia from Die Frau ohne Schatten; Symphonic Fragment from Die Liebe der Danae; Symphonic Fragment from Die ägyptische Helena

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COMPOSERS: Strauss
LABELS: Koch Schwann
WORKS: Fantasia from Die Frau ohne Schatten; Symphonic Fragment from Die Liebe der Danae; Symphonic Fragment from Die ägyptische Helena
PERFORMER: Bamberg SO/Karl Anton Rickenbacher
CATALOGUE NO: 3-6533-2
This is the fourth volume in Koch’s ‘Unknown Strauss’ series, but some of the music here – taken from three of his operas – is not as ‘unknown’ as one might be led to believe. Strauss’s own Fantasia from Die Frau ohne Schatten has three rival recordings in the catalogue already, as does Clemens Krauss’s Liebe der Danae ‘symphonic fragment’. But Karl Anton Rickenbacher’s own extraction of music from Die Ägyptische Helena is indeed a rarity. As, of course, is the opera itself, which makes this an ideal means of exploring a rich vein of music from the Straussian mine. The music may not have the immediate appeal and memorability of Die Frau or Danae. However, there is still plenty of engaging melody and typical harmonic audacity displayed in the fragment’s 22 minutes, taken largely from extended passages of Act I, including what a delightful typo in the booklet renders as a ‘duct between Helen and Menelaus’.

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Rickenbacher draws full-bodied, committed playing from the Bamberg orchestra. The well-known orchestral interludes from Die Frau have energy and tonal richness, while the 12-minute encapsulation of Danae is at times quite overwhelming in its power and authority. The recorded sound is admirably warm and enveloping. Matthew Rye