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Strauss: Elektra Herlitzius/Meier/ Schwanewilms/Pape/ Staatskapelle Dresden/ Thielemann/Van Aken DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON, TWO CDS 32/40

August 1, 2014

Andrew Clements

The Strauss performing tradition runs deeper in Dresden than anywhere else. Nine of the composer's operas received their premieres there, including Salome, Elektra, Der Rosenkavalier and Arabella. At the start of this 150th-birthday year, Christian Thielemann conducted a concert performance of Elektra at the Berlin Philharmonie, which forms the basis of these discs. It may be the most expressionist of all Strauss's scores, but the overriding impression of this recording is the sheer tonal beauty of the Dresden Staatskapelle under Thielemann: the singers often seem to surf on wave after wave of orchestral sumptuousness. Some may prefer the drama pushed to greater extremes, but there's no doubt this is a very fine cast, led by Evelyn Herlitzius's Elektra - a little thin-toned and shrill in the highest registers, maybe, but tirelessly engaged in the drama - and Waltraud Meier's scarily contained Klytemnestra, though Anne Schwanewilms is rather a blank canvas as Chrysothemis.

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Source: Guardian (UK)

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