TERRIFIC!!! THIS DOES EXIST, THANKS GOD!
Ha-De Nguyen | Paris, France (Europe) | 10/19/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I'm fond of Straussian operas and particularly of that one! I also love soprano female voices soaring above orchestra and that opera brings so many passages for that!
I have also survived for a long time with the EMI's reference recording starring Schwarzkopf : this remains a good introduction to the masterpiece. However you would discover that even in the fifties, her interpretation was not so highly praised because of some excess in sophistication and some coolness as well. One of the most famous Marschallins after the war was Maria Reining. She's however much known by that other reference recording from the same period issued by DECCA in 1954 with prestigious direction of Kleiber. There she sounds too thin, uninvolved despite a voice that one can find nevertheless charming, probably a few years ago. In 1955, she was once again recorded during the reopening of the Vienna opera house newly re-built this time, sounding very very old (one year later she would retire). At the end of the famous trio, the part would be rewritten to allow some top notes to be sung by Gueden and Jurinac!
You might also find a recording from Salzburg 1949 but she lacked some experience and was rather too young for the part. Here in 1953, she is perfect, in natural and perfect viennese manner. The sound is full and in super condition that night! She IS the Marschallin with a somptuous voice, even more intelligent and characterful than Schwarzkopf! NOT TO MISS!!
In those days, Jurinac was said to be the only true Octavian of her generation. I don't know why, I've never been really convinced by her interpretation, with a voice rather too short, too low, not well in place. I read she had left the part for the Marschallin, then I understood. If you ever have the chance to listen to some highlights from her in the later role, you will hear how characterful she could be in that opera in the RIGHT role for her...
Lisa della Casa is also recorded here but not as the Marschallin as anyone could have expected. I'm of those who regret that she had not been chosen instead of Reining in the DECCA set but that was a little bit too early for her to sing this mature role. Then I heard the 1960 recording of the celebration of the new opera house at Salzburg and, it was a true disappointment : too cool, lacking charm etc. although I've always thought she was a purer Straussian singer than many, as Arabella for example or even as Sophie or Zdenka. But as Chrysothemis or as Ariadne, the beautiful voice was a little bit too much under pressure. As Octavian, she is a dream : YES, Octavian should only be sung by a soprano! A splendour!
Gueden IS Sophie; she has brought her shining voice to so many recordings of that opera in the fifties, I even prefer her to Popp in that role. Further she is here in her full prime, illuminating the rose presentation scene and the final trio.
Böhme is perfect as Ochs, really exciting. Unfortunately the recording is not very kind to his voice (listen to him in the DG highlights of Boehm's 1958 recording with Seefried, Streich and, Schech a disastour...).
With respect to the recording quality, be advised that although issued in the "connoisseur" serie of Melodram, it is warm, consistent, not atmospheric enough for sure but female voices are well preserved. If I could give some colours to them I would say Reining's is blue, della Casa's is pink and Gueden's is rose : all together make a wonderful flower fireworks trio!
Of course all counterparts should not be forgotten and all symbolize what a true team should be (in the case directly imported from the Vienna state opera including best cast members).
Finally, the direction of Krauss is the best ever heard, so natural, idiomatic of Straussian and Viennese style, fabulous!"