53,674 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...




selling Internationaly

Founder: Len Mullenger                                     Editor in Chief: John Quinn              

Some items
to consider

Chopin Edition 17CDs
now available separately
£11 post-free anywhere


100th birthday of Mieczyslaw Weinberg on December 8, 2019.
Renate Eggbrecht has recorded all 3 violin Sonatas

Mozart Brahms
Clarinet Quintets


Recordings of the Month


Jean-Baptiste LEMOYNE

Enescu Ravel Britten

Debussy Images etc.

53 Studies on Chopin Études 1
Konstantin Scherbakov (piano)



Che fai tù? - Villanelles

Cyrillus KREEK
The suspended harp of Babel

violin concertos - Ibragimova

Peteris VASKS
Viola concerto - Maxim Rysanov

The Complete Lotte Schöne




Plain text for smartphones & printers

Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage

Musicweb sells the following labels

Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

Support us financially by purchasing this disc from

Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949) 
Die schweigsame Frau (1934) [153:13]
Franz Hawlata - Sir Morosus; Julia Bauer - Aminta; Bernhard Berchtold - Henry Morosus; Monika Straube - Theodosia Zimmerlein - Haushalterin; Andreas Kindschuh - Der Barbier; Guibee Yang - Isotta; Tiina Penttinen - Carlotta; Matthias Winter - Carlo Morbio; Kouta Räsänen - Cesare Vanuzzi; Martin Gäbler - Giuseppe Farfallo
Chor des Oper Chemnitz; Robert-Schumann-Philharmonie/Frank Beermann
rec. 7-12 May 2012, Opernhaus Chemnitz, Germany. DDD
CPO 777 757-2 [3 CDs: 52:59 + 63:32 + 36:42]

Strauss was already seventy when he composed this comic opera. It contains all the features typical of the works of his later years: a very fluid admixture of Sprechgesang and recitative, sparkling orchestration, sudden passages of soaring lyricism alternating with almost Expressionist jaggedness and a tendency to "talkiness" which places greater weight upon the quality and audibility of the libretto. This latter was the result of his only collaboration with Stefan Zweig before the Jewish author had to flee via Austria, London and ultimately Brazil, where he and his wife committed suicide in 1942. Premiered in 1935, the opera has never been amongst Strauss's most popular. Like "Intermezzo", it is probably too wordy ever to be so but it has its fervent admirers.

I certainly enjoy it but could not, in all honesty, place it amongst my favourites even in as good a performance as this. Despite being based on Ben Jonson's play, “Epicoene or The Silent Woman”, it appears to be a direct rip-off of "Don Pasquale", itself yet another manifestation of a time-honoured, archetypal plot: a silly old man seeks to disinherit a deserving nephew by marrying a supposedly biddable young wife. I hope I am not offending die-hard Straussians if I say that I find I prefer to think of this opera almost as much as a play set to music than an opera. That said, I suppose there is a perfectly good argument for saying that is exactly what an opera ideally should be - and both Wagner and Hofmannsthal would certainly agree. The libretto is literary and rather good, as you would expect from a celebrated playwright. It helps if your German is up to snuff or if you at least follow with the German-English libretto provided here. It is in some ways more subtle and certainly more moving than Donizetti's version. The Grumpy Old Man is a sympathetic figure despite his peccadilloes, who truly seeks love and is initially grateful when he thinks he has found it. Whether the music is the equal of Donizetti's, I leave to you to decide.
For many, the preferred recording has long been the live, mono, Salzburg Festival performance from 6 August 1959 under Karl Böhm – always at his finest in Strauss. Obviously this modern digital recording scores over that one in terms of sheer sound. It is lovely to hear orchestral details that are swallowed up by the cruder acoustic of the old recording. Apart from that given advantage, it is hard to find anything else from Chemnitz which is superior - certainly not the tenor Bernhard Berchtold, who sounds strained, small-voiced and over-parted. Even if he had not the misfortune to be up against Fritz Wunderlich in freest, most lyrical voice, he would be unimpressive. His last aria, “Willst du wirklich mich nicht kennen?”, with its murderously high tessitura, comes close to being an embarrassment. It is so poorly sung in a very uncomfortable, mixed falsetto whine. The best singer here is soprano Julia Bauer; there is a touch of steam whistle in the voice but those top notes are mightily powerful and impressive. She characterises convincingly, even if she is not as charming as Hilde Güden. Franz Hawlata is in good voice as Sir Morosus without quite conjuring up the larger-than-life humour that Hotter finds in the role. Even if Hotter is a little breathy and hollow-toned, he is compelling, singing on a large scale. You will immediately hear this in the “Bells” aria early on in Act 1, where Hawlata is more gravelly, restrained and given to Sprechstimme. Andreas Kindschuh displays a handsome baritone as the Barber but even he cannot be expected to eclipse the suave Hermann Prey. The wobbly alto Housekeeper is no asset.
Conductor Franz Beermann must be congratulated for enabling an essentially provincial orchestra to rise to the occasion and cope with this highly complex score with its tricksy cross-rhythms. That said, they are not the Vienna Philharmonic and Böhm points the humour more wittily. Both the DG issue and this new recording offer a full libretto and English translation.
In short, unless modern sound is essential to you, there is little reason to opt for this new recording if you want to hear this late flowering of Strauss’s theatrical genius.
Ralph Moore