STRAUSS Salome / Nilsson 4831498
This famous set is one of those that can be said with some justice to be a 'Classic of the Gramophone'. It is famous not only for the calibre of the cast and the quality of the performance but also for the daring of John Culshaw's audio production . . . [the performance]: In a word, it is magnificent . . . [Solti]: This is a score that suits him down to the ground. At times, he conducts like a man possessed, generating considerable electricity. However, this isn't just a frenetic performance: far from it. There are many subtleties and nuances in the score and the fact that these come through is just as much a tribute to Solti as to the Decca recording technicians. On many occasions, the VPO delivers quite staggering power but the vast orchestra (115-strong) also plays with great refinement whenever Strauss demands it. Strauss's mastery of the modern orchestra arguably reached its zenith in this score and the amazingly imaginative orchestral writing is stunningly realised by the VPO. Solti's direction is electrifying; there's great tension in the air from the first downbeat and he never allows that tension to dissipate. Of course, it helps that Solti has a terrific cast at his disposal as well as the potent resource of the VPO. There really isn't a weak link in the cast. All the subsidiary parts are well taken . . . this 1961 "Salome" does still have the capacity to thrill . . .
. . . the conductor's account of Salome's "Dance" is surely one of the most viscerally exciting on record . . . [Nilsson] sings impressively . . . [Gerhard Stolze] stands out in the supporting cast as a brilliantly pointed and vivid Herod . . . with one of the greatest LP-era Wagnerians in the title-role . . . and stunningly vivid playing from the Vienna Philharmonic under Solti . . . [a] landmark recording . . .