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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Richard Strauss 150


Richard Strauss has featured heavily in the soundtrack to my life, from a very early stage.  His opera Salome is one of my enduring operatic loves.  I had purchased a cassette by Deutsche Grammaphon called Sabre Dance when I was about 12.  On it was Ravel's Bolero, Polovtsian Dances, the Danse Sacrale from Le Sacre du Printemps, the title track and Salome's Dance.  I was instantly captured by the exoticism of the Danse but had no idea of the opera until a bit later when a friend of my mother's introduced me to Salome, Strauss' Opus54.

 

When I first heard the Georg Solti recording on the radio and taped it I was 15.  Through all the tape hiss and radio interference I lived in that sordid night's air that Strauss paints so perfectly with his broad orchestral palette and before I knew it wore the tape out.  I quickly purchased my first LP set, the EMI by Karajan, and was hooked and needed more.




Elektra followed with equal enthusiasm from me, then I moved on to his more mature operas, while all of this time not neglecting his tone poems, concertos and songs.As one grows older one's tastes mature and I've found a greater appreciation for his later operas as, like the Marschallin's, my years rapidly pass.



This greater appreciation seems to resonate with a much broader audience as his works become more familiar to audiences world wide and indeed many of his operas have been considered part of the major repertoire for nigh on a century.  He has certainly been a major influence on my art as well, his operas being the subjects of some of my most popular work.



To me Richard Strauss has written some of the most perfect music for the female voice, and most profound.  One only has to look at the multitude of songs he wrote, not to mention some of the most lyrical moments one could ever hope for in opera's like Ariadne auf Naxos, Rosenkavalier, Arabella, Capriccio especially.

He was also remarkably good at final scenes.  In fact a quick way to reduce me to tears is play the final scene to Rosenkavalier.  This is my favourite recording ever, do yourself a favour...



My final musical tribute in this personal tribute to such a great man is however sung by men.  It's the finale of act 1 of Die Frau ohne Schatten, where Barak once again resigns himself to a lonely and loveless night on the couch and the Town Watchmen in the distance sing of the importance of loving ones' spouse.  Dr Richard Strauss I'd like to thank you for the musical companionship over this lifetime, it's one that continues to grow and deepen over my own.




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