Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line

Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Some items
to consider

Free classical music concerts by Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra.

British composers

  • Today's leading<br>clarinet-piano duo
  • Stellar debut<br>piano recital
  • Clarinet transcriptions Jonathan Cohler
  • Jonathan Cohler & Claremont Trio
  • French clarinet masterpieces
  • Today's leading<br>clarinet-piano duo

Shostakovich Symphony 10 Nelsons

Verdi Requiem

Dvorak Opera Premiere

Grieg, Mendelssohn sonatas




Would you like a hyperlinked weekly summary of the CDs we have reviewed?

Click for further details

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
Classical Editor
Rob Barnett
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
   Stan Metzger
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger



Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on

Donate and get a free CD

New Releases

Naxos Classical


Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
Cameo Classics
Prima voce
Red Priest
Toccata Classics

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
Classical Editor
Rob Barnett
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
   Stan Metzger
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

MDT AmazonUK AmazonUS

Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949)
Elektra (1909)
Elektra - Iréne Theorin (soprano)
Klytämnestra - Waltraud Meier (mezzo)
Chrysothemis - Eva-Maria Westbroek (soprano)
Aegisth - Robert Gambill (tenor)
Orest - René Pape (bass)
Konzertvereinigung Wiener Staatsopernchor/Thomas Lang
Wiener Philharmoniker/Daniele Gatti
Stage director: Nikolaus Lehnhoff
Stage design: Raimund Bauer
Video director: Thomas Grimm
Picture: 16:9/1080i Full HD
Sound: PCM stereo, DTS-HD Master Surround 5.1
Region: worldwide
Subtitles: German, English, French, Spanish, Italian
Menu language: English
rec. live, Großes Festpielhaus, Salzburg, 2010
ARTHAUS MUSIK 101 560 [109:00]

Experience Classicsonline

Strauss operas on Blu-ray are always a cause for celebration, none more so than this live performance from Salzburg. Joining a stellar cast is conductor Daniele Gatti, whose all-too-brief tenure with the Royal Philharmonic suggested a bright future for this talented maestro. And so it proved, for he’s now music director of the Orchestre National de France and chief conductor of the Zurich Opera. Throw in a production directed by Nikolaus Lehnhoff and the stage is set for a riveting performance of this blood-dimm’d blockbuster.
The skewed perspectives and crazy angles of Raimund Bauer’s Expressionist-inspired designs - shades of Dr Caligari - make for a bleak and pitiless Mycenae. Blank windows and doors seem interchangeable, the stage floor pocked with shallow pits into which the characters are wont to wander. As for the women, their features are drained of all life and colour. And there’s madness in the air, from Elektra’s first numbed appearance, draping herself with Agamemnon’s coat, to the Greek chorus of maids who cackle and comment like deranged harpies. Indeed, the one servant who defends Elektra is seen doing so from one of those dark hollows, the hands of fellow bedlamites pulling and plucking her back into the pit.
Musically, the opening moments are as arresting as ever, the Wiener Philharmoniker in splendid form. Sonically - in its PCM stereo guise at least - this Blu-ray is top-notch, the sound deep and wide, the balance between singers and orchestra nicely judged. Thomas Grimm’s video direction is sometimes restless but always fluent, the stark close-ups of Iréne Theorin during ’Allein! Weh, ganz allein’ hugely affecting. And for those used to the skull-rattling volume of Birgit Nilsson will surely be impressed by the authority and power of this Elektra, her marrow-freezing cries of ‘Agamemnon!’ just extraordinary. The stereo image loses focus from time to time, but then this is a live performance and these things do happen.
Eva-Maria Westbroek - who premiered the role of Anna Nicole at Covent Garden last February - makes a wide-eyed but utterly believable Crysothemis, quite a task when she’s pitted against the vocal range and dramatic presence of Theorin. The sense of entrapment - actual and metaphorical - is well caught in this confining set, the close camerwork adding to the growing tension as Crysothemis literally bounces off the walls in fear and fright. And goodness, what reserves of power as she demands ‘a woman’s lot’, her voice full and fearless, soaring gloriously above Strauss’s huge orchestra. But the biggest surprise, for me at least, is Waltraud Meier’s affecting, flesh-and-blood portrayal of Klytämnestra. In sequinned gown, bright fur and round, Thirties-style sunglasses she looks uncannily like a deeply wronged Wallis Simpson, unusually vulnerable in ’Was willst du! Seht doch, dort!’ The frequent cutaways to a clearly contemptuous, crooked-smiling Elektra - a kind of Eisensteinian montage, perhaps - adds a sense of dynamism to what is essentially a static and declamatory setting.
Meier continues to impress, ‘Was bluten muß’ particularly thrilling in its intensity and focus. It’s been a while since I’ve seen her on stage, so I’d forgotten just how good an actor she is. That said, Elektra’s apocalyptic tirade, which leaves her mother senseless, is an absolute knock-out, those orchestral convulsions simply hair-rising. The drama flags a little as Elektra insists she and Crysothemis do the deed, the ‘noble, ineffable’ Wagnerian brass that announce Orest a welcome relief after all that female angst. The light-toned bass René Pape, leather-clad, has a quiet presence and purity of line that can’t fail to please, his and Theorin’s transported singing in the recognition scene a high point of the evening.
It always puzzles me why directors expect their singers to deliver such passion and volume while kneeling or supine, but that poses no problems for Theorin. As for Robert Gambill, he makes a plaintive but bullying Aegisth, a Gestapo man sans the armband swastika. In a deft piece of stage business those empty window sockets are made to blaze with light as Aegisth meets his frightful end. And in an opera where Ossa and Pelion can meet all too easily, Gatti builds tension and scales climaxes very well indeed. Elektra, unhinged but ecstatic, is central to the apocalyptic finale, the unexpected images - which I won’t reveal - as stunning as a bolt between the eyes.
As for the orchestra, well they’re peerless in this repertoire, the weight and depth of sound they produce almost superhuman. There’s no applause, just a brief return to the dark susurrations with which the opera began. A relief really, as I always feel dazed by this relentless score. No sign of fatigue among the principals, who sing heroically throughout. And kudos to all the technical teams who contributed to this unforgettable enterprise.
A most welcome addition to the list of operas on Blu-ray.
Dan Morgan  

see also review of DVD release by Simon Thompson











































Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Pat and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.