Arthaus presents a rare document of an early nineties operatic highlight: the Japanese premiere of Wolfgang Sawallisch’s last production at the Bavarian State Opera. The Company’s tour of Nagoya and Tokyo in autumn 1992 under director and principal conductor Wolfgang Sawallisch was a particularly important event. Sawallisch was celebrating both the twenty-fifth anniversary of his first appearance as visiting guest conductor of the NHK Symphony Orchestra in Tokyo and his departure, after twenty-one years, from his two principal posts with the Bavarian State Opera in Munich. Sawallisch - an acclaimed interpreter of the music of Richard Strauss - chose Die Frau ohne Schatten to commemorate these anniversaries.
There are only two complete Die Frau ohne Schatten on the market. The Solti and the Sawallisch. It is fashionable to say that the Solti is the best. No, that is not true. Pascalnewman, a costumer from Amazon.com.
As Strauss' largest and most ambitious work, "Die Frau ohne Schatten" demands attention, even though it is one of his most problematic operas. It contains some of the composer's most stirring and sumptuous music, and its story is full of drama and roiling human passions – in fact, perhaps it is its surfeit of ideas and emotion and symbolism and intensity that makes it difficult to approach. Hugo von Hofmannsthal's heavily allegorical libretto was cobbled together from a variety of mythologies, yet he manages to humanize the characters so that they are not merely archetypes. Strauss' music is nearly relentlessly tumultuous, what some might call overwrought, yet he too makes us empathize with the characters. The key to making the gigantic, unwieldy opera into a cogent and balanced musical drama falls largely to the conductor, and Karl Böhm, leading the Vienna Philharmonic, is able give it the shape it needs to succeed in making believers of the audience. He is assisted by a first-rate cast, which more than rises to the composer's extravagant vocal and dramatic demands – the opera requires large voices able to convey larger-than-life personalities
Fritz Reiner was one of the foremost conductors of his time. Crowning his long career in Europe and America was the decade from 1954 to 1963 as music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra – an illustrious partnership that ranks along such other historical tenures as Karajan’s in Berlin, Szell’s in Cleveland and Bernstein’s in New York.
The other major orchestral release here features the Richard Strauss recordings conducted for Sony Classical by Zubin Mehta.
October 21, 2012 marks Sir Georg Soltis centenary and Decca is celebrating this with several important reissues.
Sir Georg was an exclusive Decca artist for 50 years. In 1947 he signed his first contract with Decca - as a pianist and that same year he made his first record as a conductor (with the Zurich Tonhalle in Beethovens Egmont Overture). His last public concerts took place just a few weeks before his death in 1997 and were with the Zurich Tonhalle.