Strauss’s Salome was unsurprisingly the scandal of its
time. For years nobody outside Germany would produce it. The
celebrated ‘The Dance of the Seven Veils’ which Salome performs
before Herod in return for the head of John the Baptist was
the last section of the opera to be composed. Jesús López-Cobos’s
reading is truly hedonistic, sensual and decadent; his rhythms
sinuous, seductive, his nuances and phrasings evocative of Salome’s
every twist and turn and ‘revelation’. His harsh tuttis are
redolent of the drooling of the lascivious and cruel Herod.
main item in this programme is the Suite from Strauss’s most
popular opera, Der Rosenkavalier. The music reflects
the intensity and innocence of youthful romance as between Sophie
and Octavian (The Presentation of the Rose), the fading romantic
aspirations of the ageing Marschallin and the boorish lechery
and comical come-uppance of Baron Ochs; funny how the best-known
and best-loved waltz in the opera is associated with him. Above
all it is an opulent celebration of the waltz. All those wonderful
glittering tunes are paraded here and affectionately performed,
if at times a little shakily, but without undue sugariness.
Burleske is one of two unfinished Strauss works for piano
and orchestra – the other was a Rhapsody, since lost. The Burleske,
so named by Eugen d’Albert who completed the work, was originally
named a Scherzo by Richard Strauss. We have d’Albert’s formidable
technique to thank for such a sparkling work. There is a certain
Brahmsian quality about it but the harmonies and luscious orchestration
are undoubtedly Straussian. It is well named for there is a
sense of the sardonic and of pomposity deflated in many of its
pages and the usual languid romantic moments are interspersed.
Jeffrey Kahane surmounts its virtuosic demands with aplomb.
the bottom of this review and, it must be said, bottom-drawer
Richard Strauss. The Festival Prelude for Organ and Orchestra
was composed in 1913 for the opening of Vienna’s newest concert
hall. Its pomposity and banality must have impressed some important
personage - possibly the Emperor? - who opened the hall. It
sounds like something left over in the 1930s on a desk in the
Warner Bros music department.
Telarc sound throughout is luscious and clear.