Sir Georg Solti conducts the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra for this performance with Marie Collier, Birgit Nilsson, Regina Resnik, Tom Kraus and more!
Richard Strauss was filled with doubt as to whether he would be capable of expressing in music the crazed revenge of "Elektra" after writing his opera "Salome" with its shocking story. It is quite understandable that he had trouble in composing the work, although such difficulties are not in the least evident during the course of the drama or in the musical flow. Drawing on natural sources, the forceful melodies make use of polyphonic, complex motifs and extreme dissonances. Here and there, Strausss typical chordal harmonies gleam through, though hardly audible, taking the harsh dissonances and chromaticism to the very extremes of atonality.
Sir Georg Solti, whose outstanding Strauss interpretations constitute the focus of his lifes work, leads the enormous orchestra through the highly complex score and provides his singers with a powerful but finely chiseled sound. Birgit Nilsson personifies an icy-cold Elektra consumed with hatred, and her counterpart Regina Resnik as Clytemnestra is no less extreme in her role. Gerhard Stolze, one of the greatest singers of his time, masters the exhausting role of Aegistheus, and Tom Krause is highly convincing as the determined Orestes. The phenomenal acoustics of Viennas Sofiensaal provided an ideal recording venue, and the audible quality of the sung text is excellent although the final bloodbath can scarcely be expressed in words.
"Decca's Elektra is a remarkable account of the opera. Recorded in 1968, produced by John Culshaw with an all-star cast, this performance captures the opera's brutality and atmosphere of nearly uninterrupted hysteria. Georg Solti conducts the Vienna Philharmonic, one of the great Strauss orchestras, in a searing reading of the frenzied score. Solti's control of the opera's waves of tension and fury makes the moment of Elektra's recognition of Orest almost unbearably triumphant, and the ending a cataclysmic summation of Elektra's passion. Birgit Nilsson fully inhabits the title role, sustaining an exhausting, obsessive level of rage. Her voice is wonderfully colorful, and she uses it to create a character of complex, conflicted motivations. Regina Resnik's singing is rich, even voluptuous, but she is stunningly monstrous and haunted as Klytämnestra. Leonie Rysanek had been scheduled to sing Chrysothemis, which would have made this an absolute dream cast, but she was forced to cancel. In her place, Marie Collier does a fine job, making Elektra's weaker sister poignantly empathetic. Tom Krause is appropriately menacing as Orest, and Gerhard Stolze makes the most of Aegisth, giving him a chilling death scene. The singers in the smaller roles are as conscientious as the principals in creating sharply etched characters. In a recording full of brilliant performances, the brilliance of the orchestral playing is never overshadowed, thanks to Solti's propulsive and nuanced leadership. London's sound is clean and vibrant, with excellent sense of dramatic presence." - Stephen Eddins, allmusic.com
"As good as the original release is, the Speakers Corner reissue benefits from both superb re-mastering... as well as superior vinyl (pressed by Pallas in Germany) that noticeably lowers the noise threshold. The resulting sound is so much better it startled me... details are clearer... singers and orchestra more present and more vividly arrayed on a larger, airier soundstage. A very good recording is now spectacular, bringing Strauss' theatrical extravaganza to even fuller life." - Mark Lehman, The Absolute Sound, October 2013, Music 5/5, Sonics 4.5/5
Recording: June, September and November 1966 at Sofiensaal, Vienna.
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Sir Georg Solti, conductor
Richard Strauss (1864-1949)
1. Qo bleibt Elakra?
2. "Allein! When , ganz alien.
4. Tch knn richt sitzen und ins Dunkel starren
5. Es geht ein Larm los
6. Was wilst du? Seht doch dort!
7. Die Gotter! bist doch selber eine Gottin
8. Ich will nichts horen!
9. Ich habe keine guten Nachte.
10. Wenn das rechte Blutopfer unterm Beile fallt
11. Was bluten muB? Dein eigenes Genick
12. Was sagen Sie ihr denn?
1. Orest! Orest ist tot!
2. Platz da! Wer lungert so vor einer Tur?
3. Nun muB es hief von uns gescheln.
4. Du1 Du! Denn du bist stark! Wie stark du bist
5. Nun, deen allein!
6. Was willst due, fremder Mensch?
7. Elektra! Elektra!
9. Du wirst es tun? Allein? Du armes kind?
10. Seid iohr von nnern
11. Ich habe ihm das Beil nicht geben konnen!
12. Es muss etwas geschelen sein
13. He! Lichter!
14. Elektra! Schwester!
15. Ob ich nihct hore
16 Horst du denn nicht
17. Schweig, and tanze