STRAUSS:  Salome.
Leonie Rysanek (Salome); Ruth Hesse (Herodias); Jon Vickers (Herodes); Horst Laubenthal (Narraboth); Thomas Stewart (Jochanaan); Marga Schimi (Page); others/French National Orch/Rudolf Kempe, cond.
GOLDEN MELODRAM GM 3.0047 (2 CDs) (F) (ADD) TT:44:07 & 52:36
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Lovers of Salome—and Leonie Rysanek—will find this an essential addition to their collections, in spite of its less-than-perfect sonic quality. CD notes say it was recorded July 14, 1974 at Festival d'Orange.  Less than two years earlier Rysanek had sung her first Salome at the Vienna State Opera, issued on RCA, a superb performance, with Karl Bhm conducting. In this later live performance Rysanek is even more into the role interpretively. We won't pretend that this huge, rich voice is that of a sensuous teenage girl. What a glorious, secure sound is heard here; she was at her very best in this performance!  Fortunately she is surrounded by a strong supporting cast, particularly Jon Vickers singing Herodes for the first time. He sings the role without resorting to overdone histrionics a la Patzak.  Thomas Stewart is an ideal Jochanaan, Ruth Hesse a better-voiced Herodias than most. Of equal importance is conducting of Rudolf Kempe, whose recordings of Strauss's complete orchestral works have been highly praised. It is clear the Vienna Philharmonic is not in the pit—the French National Orchestra is adequate but not much more.

The stereo recording has been remastered using "20 Star Prism System" developed by Italian Music Company Srl. I don't know how the original sounded, but what is heard here—probably because of original microphone placement—is less than ideal. Although in stereo, it sounds almost as if the pickup was from the sides of the stage.  Quite often voices are a bit off-mike. It is unfortunate that this has been issued at full price, but Rysanek fans surely will want to have it.

R.E.B. (Aug 2002)

(For other reviews of Salome use this site's search engine and see the Feature on the opera)