The Solti show

The recording of Richard Strauss’ Die Frau ohne Schatten made at the Salzburg Festival in 1992 is very much Sir Georg Solti’s show.  The conducting is superb and the Vienna Philharmonic, of course, respond for Solti.  From the opening, shattering cords through the various orchestral interludes to the final ensemble and chorus Solti is utterly convincing in his command of tempi and dynamics.

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Midnight Marschallin

In 1985 the Royal Opera House staged film director john Schlesinger’s production of Der Rosenkavalier to mark the 25th anniversary of Sir Georg Solti’s house debut.  It’s an essentially traditional production.  We are in 1740s Vienna and both costumes and set are highly elaborate.  The opening scene stars one of the largest beds ever seen on an opera stage.  That said, it’s well put together.  The chemistry between the principals is good and the nonsense at the beginning of Act 3 is deftly handled.  There are a number of small touches that help set the tone too.  For example, at the beginning of Act 2 fake books are being installed in the Faninal “library”.

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Flashbacks

I’ve been banished from the living room and so the home theatre by the lemur practicing for a dance recital.  As a result I’m listening, on my iPod, to Solti’s recording of The Ring, which I was introduced to nearly four decades ago.  Listening to Das Rheingold again today after a long lay off I’m struck by how utterly brilliant it is.  Gustav Neidlinger’s Alberich is a marvel.  He’s singing lyrically not snarling or barking and it sounds quite lovely.  Solti’s command of rhythm is astonishing.  One could dance to this!  And has John Culshaw’s sound engineering ever been bettered?

Still wonderful as it is it’s having much the same effect as Proust’s madeleine.  I first heard this recording (on vinyl of course) courtesy of the man who taught me Applied Maths for ‘A’ level .  He was a rather sad old chap but he introduced me to Wagner, Quad electrostatic speakers and gin.  He’s long dead of course.  So it goes.