Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

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Len Mullenger:

RICHARD STRAUSS (1864-1949) Der Rosenkavalier (1910) - highlights - Opera in English  cast below LPO/David Parry 14-16, 18 Dec 1998, Blackheath Halls Peter Moores Foundation CHANDOS CHAN 3022 [79.40]



RICHARD STRAUSS (1864-1949) Der Rosenkavalier (1910) - highlights - Opera in English

Act I opening 8.28
Act I conclusion 21.24
Act II opening 13.01
Act II conclusion 13.05
Act III conclusion 23.08
Feldmarschallin - Yvonne Kenny Baron Ochs - John Tomlinson Octavian - Diana Montague Faninal - Andrew Shore Sophie - Rosemary Joshua Marianne - Jennifer Rhys-Davies Annina - Elizabeth Vaughan Peter Kay Children's Choir Geoffrey Mitchell Choir LPO/David Parry

As a sequence of highlights this really has no competition. In addition it is the only recording in which the opera is sung in English. All of these objective factors mark this out as a unique event. If that was all it might well rate a rather dull place in a book of 'firsts'. However the fact is that this is also a champagne event in which exuberance, dainty romance and erotic longing lay a doughty claim to the emotions and attention.

The opera will be well known to many and quite a few of them will know the piece from either of the two Karajan recordings and with them it does not truly compete but ONLY in the sense that we are dealing with highlights and with the libretto sung in English.

Given the generosity (difficult to see how more could have been given) and artistic coherence of the selection it is difficult to see how this can be bettered except by giving us the whole opera. There will be a few who might be tempted to pass this disc by on the other side of the path however if they do they will miss some of the creamiest singing and defiantly tempting orchestral playing ever accorded to this work. Examples are legion but for me the sunlit Nietszchean blare of the whooping horns in the first few moments and the words 'Bliss is too deep to understand' say it all.

The singers are a delight and one can easily see how this disc will be taken as providing a representative sampling of the voices (especially female) of the ever-changeful British operatic tradition. The notes are very full and both the CD case and the 80 page booklet (with full texts - I note some disparities with what is actually sung) are accommodated in a card slipcase. Anyone at all intrigued by opera would do well to get this disc and not to write it off as another helping of bleeding chunks. Regret that the whole opera is not supplied but delight in what is here.

This CD serves the British operatic world and the demystifying mission of Opera in English very well indeed. Thank you Chandos and Peter Moores Foundation. Together you are laying the way for a much broader and self-renewing audience for opera in this country. Fortunately this essential evangelical drive is at the service of some glorious music-making.


Rob Barnett


Rob Barnett

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