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Thread: Any good recordings of Salome online?

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    Senior Member Minor Sixthist's Avatar
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    Default Any good recordings of Salome online?

    I finally got out to the library yesterday to pick up books for some nice, free, non-required reading now that school is over and done, and one that I got was all about music of the Twentieth Century. I'm not very far into it, but it opens by recounting the events including and leading up to the 1906 performance of Salome which Strauss himself conducted in Graz, Austria.

    The writing got me interested in checking out Salome for myself, an opera with which I have little experience beyond a very surface knowledge of the biblical main characters (mind that I am the textbook "bad Catholic" and do not hold much stake in the religion itself, I'm just slightly familiar with the story's characters and their relations to one another.) I was wondering if anybody felt particularly positively about any recordings of the opera online, and might be able to suggest me one.

    It really is times in like these when I wish I had more CD recordings of operas — it's less of a mystery then which recording to start with, being able to skip the daunting breadth of YouTube search results, which not only offer so many options, but then countless that end up being poor quality recordings, incomplete, irrelevant, etc... the Internet could truly be simultaneously the ultimate blessing and ultimate curse when trying to find a specific answer to a specific command!

    As thankful as I have been to have grown up alongside YouTube— I think I was six or seven when it really started gaining traction— and the Internet generally, I have come to realize some of the biggest points that lead me to prefer listening to CDs over even the exact same recording on YouTube: the latter is too good at distracting me. YouTube can't be closed without the audio ceasing, unlike CDs, whose menu could be minimized so that you could close the laptop and listen in silence and darkness, for one. In general YT's interface is simply built to distract, and even as much as my attention span has improved even in the last couple of years, I'm not immune to its wiles even in fullscreen. Not to mention the abysmal advertising, which within the last year has been amped up as if it wasn't previously enough. It has no qualms interposing a loud, citrus-colored advertisement into the middle of a symphony, as soft or delicate as that moment of music is. Ah, capitalism.

    So, now that I've outlined all the reasons YouTube could kind of suck, I'm of course asking for a good recommendation on YouTube! In reality, the distractions don't outweigh the great potential for discovery and for good recordings; plus I guess there are other places opera could be published online, at least until I find myself some more opera CDs. The only CDs I have of operas, besides Porgy and Bess, are the full set of the Ring, Tristan, and Lohengrin, none of which I've explored extensively yet because I'm waiting for the right time to give them my full attention.

    Thanks for any recommendations or discussion, all are appreciated.
    Last edited by Minor Sixthist; Jul-11-2019 at 03:43.

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    Senior Member Becca's Avatar
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    I would strongly suggest the Behrens/Karajan/Vienna recording. I'm sure someone will recommend the Nilsson/Solti but for all her technical abilities, I have never enjoyed her voice and she doesn't make for a very convincing 15y/o! Not that a 15y/o could (should) ever sing it.



    You might also find this snippet 'interesting' ... Maria Ewing who I have seen sing the role.

    Last edited by Becca; Jul-11-2019 at 04:19.

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    Senior Member Minor Sixthist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Becca View Post
    I would strongly suggest the Behrens/Karajan/Vienna recording. I'm sure someone will recommend the Nilsson/Solti but for all her technical abilities, I have never enjoyed her voice and she doesn't make for a very convincing 15y/o! Not that a 15y/o could (should) ever sing it.



    You might also find this snippet 'interesting' ... Maria Ewing who I have seen sing the role.

    I'm sure I would be concerned if I could find any real opera singer who could truly pass as 15! Thanks for these.

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    Senior Member Becca's Avatar
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    Please note that I added the wrong link for the Behrens, it was only part of the recording. I have replaced it with the full opera.

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    Senior Member Rogerx's Avatar
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    Strauss : Salome
    Malfitano,Sinopoli,1990
    Wish the view was better but Malfitano is Salome.

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    Senior Member Tsaraslondon's Avatar
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    For a Salome who also looks convincing you could hardly do better than this.
    "It's not enough to have a beautiful voice." Maria Callas

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    Senior Member Barelytenor's Avatar
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    These last two--Malfitano and Stratas, especially, are my go-to recordings (actually I have the DVDs--Minor Sixthist, no sucky YouTube commercials, and just a little over an hour of extraordinary musical intensity; surely you owe it to yourself if you want to learn this opera) of this amazing opera. IIRC the Stratas is lip-synched video but she very much acts the part, and she is an incredible actress in every role I have ever seen her in (The Rise and Fall of Mahoganny also comes to mind), including here as an oversexed, amoral nymphet.

    Kind regards,

    George
    Last edited by Barelytenor; Jul-11-2019 at 18:16. Reason: typorrhoid

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    Senior Member Tsaraslondon's Avatar
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    Ancient sound, of course, but Ljuba Welitsch was Strauss's own choice for the role for an 80th birthday production in Vienna in 1944. Strauss himself coached her in the role and conducted the performances. Welitsch's great years didn't last long, but for a short period she was the reigning Salome of the day.



    There is also a 1952 performance from the Met, also with Reiner in the pit, but she is in fresher voice here.

    Then there is this 1944 performance of the closing scene which is absolutely hairraising.

    Last edited by Tsaraslondon; Jul-11-2019 at 15:38.
    "It's not enough to have a beautiful voice." Maria Callas

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    Senior Member jegreenwood's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Minor Sixthist View Post
    I finally got out to the library yesterday to pick up books for some nice, free, non-required reading now that school is over and done, and one that I got was all about music of the Twentieth Century. I'm not very far into it, but it opens by recounting the events including and leading up to the 1906 performance of Salome which Strauss himself conducted in Graz, Austria.

    The writing got me interested in checking out Salome for myself, an opera with which I have little experience beyond a very surface knowledge of the biblical main characters (mind that I am the textbook "bad Catholic" and do not hold much stake in the religion itself, I'm just slightly familiar with the story's characters and their relations to one another.) I was wondering if anybody felt particularly positively about any recordings of the opera online, and might be able to suggest me one.

    It really is times in like these when I wish I had more CD recordings of operas — it's less of a mystery then which recording to start with, being able to skip the daunting breadth of YouTube search results, which not only offer so many options, but then countless that end up being poor quality recordings, incomplete, irrelevant, etc... the Internet could truly be simultaneously the ultimate blessing and ultimate curse when trying to find a specific answer to a specific command!

    As thankful as I have been to have grown up alongside YouTube— I think I was six or seven when it really started gaining traction— and the Internet generally, I have come to realize some of the biggest points that lead me to prefer listening to CDs over even the exact same recording on YouTube: the latter is too good at distracting me. YouTube can't be closed without the audio ceasing, unlike CDs, whose menu could be minimized so that you could close the laptop and listen in silence and darkness, for one. In general YT's interface is simply built to distract, and even as much as my attention span has improved even in the last couple of years, I'm not immune to its wiles even in fullscreen. Not to mention the abysmal advertising, which within the last year has been amped up as if it wasn't previously enough. It has no qualms interposing a loud, citrus-colored advertisement into the middle of a symphony, as soft or delicate as that moment of music is. Ah, capitalism.

    So, now that I've outlined all the reasons YouTube could kind of suck, I'm of course asking for a good recommendation on YouTube! In reality, the distractions don't outweigh the great potential for discovery and for good recordings; plus I guess there are other places opera could be published online, at least until I find myself some more opera CDs. The only CDs I have of operas, besides Porgy and Bess, are the full set of the Ring, Tristan, and Lohengrin, none of which I've explored extensively yet because I'm waiting for the right time to give them my full attention.

    Thanks for any recommendations or discussion, all are appreciated.
    The Rest is Noise? Great book, by one of my favorite writers about music.

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    With the music of Richard Strauss, it's generally best to search out performances by the Staatskapelle Dresden, which was Strauss's orchestra. They premiered nine of his operas in Dresden, including Salome, Elektra, and Der Rosenkavalier. Strauss also dedicated his Alpine Symphony to the Staatskapelle. They play Strauss's music more translucently than other orchestras, and with Strauss's dense but brilliant orchestration their sound works remarkably well in his music--as they allow the listener to hear the whole score in greater detail. To my ears, they outplay most other orchestras in Strauss's music, including the Berlin Philharmonic, and are also more consistently in tune than other orchestras (not only in the operas of Strauss, but also in Wagner & Weber as well, etc.). For example, here's the Staatskapelle Dresden playing "Dance of the Seven Veils" from Salome (Strauss's Op. 54), under conductor Rudolf Kempe:



    Unfortunately, I know of only two stereo era Salome recordings by the Staatskapelle Dresden, the first from conductor Otmar Suitner in 1963, & the second a digital era Philips recording from conductor Seiji Ozawa in 1994, with soprano Jessye Norman singing the title role. Of these two, I'd probably most recommend the Suitner performance, unless you want digital sound (which is admittedly a major plus in such richly textured music). Suitner was the chief conductor of the Staatskapelle between 1960-64, and therefore had a closer and more established relationship with the orchestra than Ozawa. If you don't require subtitles, the Suitner performance makes an excellent choice on You Tube (although the Ozawa is good, too).

    Otmar Suitner, 1963, Staatskapelle Dresden:


    Seiji Ozawa, 1994, Staatskapelle Dresden: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VoZJ1oDzGiM

    There's also a historic 1948 mono Salome from conductor Joseph Keilberth, who was the chief conductor of the Staatskapelle between 1945-1950, but it's in poorer sound and difficult to hear the whole orchestra. The singing, however, is excellent: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-j0kFYRZtNI

    The other alternative would be to search out conductors that worked extensively with the Staatskapelle and learned how to conduct Strauss's music in the tradition that Strauss established in Dresden. Of these, my first choice would be Rudolf Kempe, who directed both the Dresden Opera and Staatskapelle Dresden between 1949-52 (when it was still the orchestra that had worked with Strauss), and maintained a close relationship to them for the rest of his life (which included recording the complete orchestral works of Strauss in the 1970s). Unfortunately, Kempe never recorded a Salome in Dresden (to my knowledge), but there is a 1974 Salome by Kempe with the Orchestra National de France, & it's on You Tube:



    My second choice would be Fritz Reiner, who was the orchestra's chief conductor between 1914-1921--but again, Reiner didn't conduct Salome in Dresden, either. There is a 1952 Reiner Salome recorded at the Metropolitan Opera House, but the sound isn't ideal, despite the excellent cast of singers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o5dzANWQXao. In addition, there are Reiner recordings of the final scene from Salome, and the Dance of the Seven Veils, with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, which are in better stereo sound & may be of interest to you:

    Reiner, final scene: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FfJgPDKLWbI
    Reiner, Dance of the Seven Veils: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8QKLeog22PM

    My next choice would be Karl Böhm, who was the Staatskapelle's chief conductor between 1934-1943. Böhm made his 1970 DG recording of Salome with the Hamburg State Opera, with Gwyneth Jones in the title role: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pDvSH8nU4DM. There's also a 1975 filmed stage production with Bohm conducting the Vienna Philharmonic on You Tube (with Teresa Stratus singing the role of Salome), and unlike the Karajan recording on YT, the Böhm film offers subtitles. So, if English subtitles are important to you, this 1975 production is probably your best bet, despite that the actual filming of the stage production is far from ideal by today's standards:



    Wolfgang Sawallisch was another great Strauss conductor, who worked extensively with the Staatskapelle Dresden, but I can only find the following 1974 concert of Sawallisch conducting the final scene from Salome in Rome on YT, with soprano Birgit Nilsson: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WlbleLrdYTc. It's unfortunate, because Sawallisch knew every note that Strauss composed, and recorded most of Strauss's complete opus during his career, as both a conductor and pianist (accompanying various singers in the Lieder & performing the chamber music, as well). But, to my knowledge, Sawallisch didn't conduct a complete Salome on record. (By the way, if you like Nilsson's singing here, you may wish to check out her Salome recording with Sir Georg Solti and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0wlNbEEboTA. However, in my opinion, there are better Strauss conductors than Solti--such as Sawallisch & Kempe, and better Salomes than Nilsson's.)

    As for Giuseppe Sinopoli, who was the chief conductor of the Staatskapelle between 1992-2001, I don't think highly of his conducting. I find it quite poor, generally, despite that he had a great orchestra in Dresden. Nor did Sinopoli record his Salome with the Staatskapelle, but with the Deutsche Oper Berlin. Yet, as with the 1975 Böhm Vienna production, Sinopoli's filmed Salome does offer subtitles: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ktmvi3JZkxc. But, in my view, it is much too aberrantly conducted to compare favorably to Kempe, Reiner, Suitner, & Böhm's more idiomatic & authentic efforts.

    Speaking of which, there's also a Salome recording by Strauss himself, conducting the Vienna State Opera in 1942, which is a historic document and essential for those wishing to understand Strauss's intentions with his score more deeply: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NzbQWnTFkYY

    I hope that helps, and that I haven't confused you even more.
    Last edited by Josquin13; Jul-11-2019 at 18:51.

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    Senior Member Barelytenor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jegreenwood View Post
    The Rest is Noise? Great book, by one of my favorite writers about music.
    Absolutely, The Rest Is Noise, subtitled "Listening to the Twentieth Century," by Alex Ross, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. He also wrote a later work well worth reading intermingling his thoughts on classical music and pop, Listen to This.

    Kind regards,

    George

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    I am going to second Stratas (though to be fair it's the only one I've seen in full)... it's a demanding role, and she does a great job both singing and acting. The whole production is really well done. It's also not a bad idea to familiarize yourself with the Wilde's play if you haven't done so already. It's only 30 pages long.

    This piece must be one of my favorite operas of all time (Elektra is up there as well).
    Last edited by BrahmsWasAGreatMelodist; Jul-11-2019 at 18:32.
    Casual composer, pianist, music enthusiast

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    Senior Member jegreenwood's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Barelytenor View Post
    Absolutely, The Rest Is Noise, subtitled "Listening to the Twentieth Century," by Alex Ross, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. He also wrote a later work well worth reading intermingling his thoughts on classical music and pop, Listen to This.

    Kind regards,

    George
    I think some of those pieces are from his New Yorker column, which I read assiduously.

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    Senior Member Minor Sixthist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jegreenwood View Post
    The Rest is Noise? Great book, by one of my favorite writers about music.
    You guessed it! I'm so glad you felt that way, and eager to keep going. Very glad I picked it up.

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    Senior Member Minor Sixthist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Barelytenor View Post
    Absolutely, The Rest Is Noise, subtitled "Listening to the Twentieth Century," by Alex Ross, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. He also wrote a later work well worth reading intermingling his thoughts on classical music and pop, Listen to This.

    Kind regards,

    George
    I think I might look out for Listen to This next. I hope he still writes for the New Yorker, I don't currently have a subscription but a family member does.
    Last edited by Minor Sixthist; Jul-11-2019 at 21:25.

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