Tell Us Your Favorite Strauss Interpreters

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Strauss Week wraps up Sunday with a countdown of the best Strauss interpreters. We asked you which Strauss singers, conductors and instrumentalists top your list. You told us in the comments below and we're featuring some of your favorites as we close out Strauss Week beginning at 10 am.

Sunday with the Greats: Visit the WQXR playlist on Sunday to see the featured Strauss interpreters.

To get you started, among the recommended recordings from BBC Music Magazine's recent Strauss issue, it highlights performances by the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra under the direction of Bernard Haitink, German soprano Hildegard Behrens and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, The Nash Ensemble and the Bavarian State Opera Chorus and Orchestra with soprano Gwyneth Jones.

And in Tom Moon's book 1,000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die, he leads off the Strauss section with conductor Karl Böhm and the Berlin Philharmonic's 1958 recording of Also sprach Zarathustra (Deutsche Grammophon), the orchestral tone poem now iconically linked to the opening scene of Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey."

Tell us about your favorite Strauss interpreters in the comments below.

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Comments [44]

Peter Feldman from New York City

Jessy Norman as Ariadne.

Jun. 15 2014 08:25 PM
Wally from Manhattan

Charles Munch's recording of Til Eulenspiegel

Jun. 15 2014 01:54 PM
steve lerit from morristown, nj

Nilsson's Elektra and Salome with Solti and Karajan's Rosenkavalier top my list.

Jun. 14 2014 11:58 PM
Kate from NOLA

Birgit Nilsson as E.Electra and Salome. One of the most glorious performances was at the Rudolph Bing farewell gala as she sang the final aria of Salome.

Elizabeth Schwarzkopf in Der Rosencavalier.

Jun. 14 2014 09:20 PM
CAROLYN S from NEW JERSEY

My favorite Strauss singers are Eleanor Steber, Kiri Te Kanawa, Debby Voigt, all three of whom are wonderful.
I also remember Ljuba Welitsch in Salome: she was something else again!

Jun. 14 2014 04:30 PM
DK from Erfurt, Germany

There are so many wonderful Strauss singers I have heard live and on recordings.

If I may humbly make a suggestion, could we hear Anna Tomowa-Sintow, the
Bulgarian soprano, on your program? No one has mentioned her just yet.

I don't know if there is a recording of her as the Marschallin in Der Rosenkavalier, but if there is, the latter part of Act I is an experience and a half. I have heard her do this role twice, live, on my own, and with a former boyfriend. I was in tears the first time at the end of the first act, and the second time, my boyfriend and I were both in tears--so I know it wasn't just me, if you know what I mean...

I also went to a performance of Der Rosenkavalier here in Erfurt, Germany (it happened to be on the program that evening) the day I heard that a very dear musical colleague and friend had died in a terrible car accident... for this reason, too, this piece has a lot of emotional meaning for me.

Tomowa-Sintow also recorded The Four Last Songs--a fine interpretation, but, I must say, secondary to her live Marschallin--if you all have a recording you can play of her latter Act I Marschallin, it would be such a gift to me and I think to your audience, too.

Jun. 14 2014 02:23 PM
Lee from Brooklyn

Lee from Brooklyn: Solti does amazing Strauss. He knew Strauss and conducted at his 85th birthday celebration as well as his funeral. I love Solti's recordings of the tone poems.

Jun. 13 2014 01:06 PM
Cloudy Day from Quaker Hill CT

Unmatched in recent times are the radiant recordings of the tone poems by Fabio Luisi and the Dresden Staatskapelle. Among them, Heldenleben (with the original ending) and Don Quixote are personal favorites.

Jun. 13 2014 12:20 PM
Katelin from NYC

I love Renee Fleming's Four Last Songs. I also heard her Rosenkavalier once again this year in Washington, and it was vocally sumptuous and terrifically moving.

Jun. 12 2014 06:51 PM

Elektra (Audio): Hildegard Behrens, Christa Ludwig, Jorma Hynninen, Boston Symphony (Seiji Ozawa)

Elektra (Video): Hildegard Behrens, Brigitte Fassbaender, Deborah Voigt, Donald McIntyre, Metropolitan Opera (James Levine)

Renee Fleming: (Der Rosenkavalier, Capriccio)

Elizabeth Schwarzkopf: (Four Last Songs)

Jessye Norman: (Four Last Songs, Ariadne auf Naxos)

Regine Crespin: (Der Rosenkavalier)

Alpine Symphony (Andre Previn)

Jun. 12 2014 02:55 PM
Stew from Virginia

I love the much-overlooked Jarvi/Royal Scottish National Orchestra Strauss tone poems cycle on Chandos from the mid- to late-90s. My favorites in that collection are Ein Heldenleben and Vier Letzte Lieder featuring the similarly-under-appreciated English soprano Felicity Lott.

Jun. 12 2014 02:53 PM
Barry O'Neal from New York

For my money, Fritz Reiner's 1950s/60s recordings with the Chicago Symphony are close to definitive esp. the ALSO SPRACH ZARATHUSTRA, EIN HELDENLEBEN and the excerpts from ELEKTRA with Borkh, Schoefler et al. Bohm (operas) and Kempe (orchestral music) are also hard to beat. Solti is usually a little emphatic for my taste, but his FRAU OHNE SCHATTEN is certainly a stunning reading of this masterpiece.

Jun. 12 2014 02:31 PM
William T from New Jersey

The luminous recording of the "Vier letzte Lieder" with Gundula Janowitz,
Herbert von Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic

Jun. 12 2014 01:55 PM
Conway from East Rutherford, NJ

Back in the late 70's (unfortunately, I don't remember the actual year) I heard the magnificent Peter O'Hearn production of Die Frau Ohnee Schatten, with Rysanek, King, Berry, Dunn, and I think the Dyer's Wife may have been sung by Schroeder-Feinen, but I'm not certain. What IS certain is the remarkable, spot-on conducting of the late, great Karl Bohm! Oh how I miss him!

Jun. 12 2014 01:39 PM
Henry Muller from Forest Hills , NY

Favorite Opera : Der Rosenkavalier
with Elisabeth Schwarzkopf , Christa Ludwig, Eberhard Wachter , Kerstin Meyer
Conductor : Herbert von Karajan

Jun. 12 2014 12:50 PM

Favorite Strauss opera: Der Rosenkavalier
Favorite Strauss character: Die Marschallin
Favorite Strauss singer: Frederica von Stade as Octavian
Favorite Strauss symphonic works: Eine Alpensinfonie, Ein Heldenleben
Favorite Strauss tone-poems: Don Quixote, Aus Italien
Favorite Strauss orchestra: Wiener Philharmoniker!

And most important:
Favorite Strauss conductor: Richard Strauss!!!

Jun. 12 2014 12:31 PM
Freddy Snyders (N.Y.) from New York City

1)My favorite Strauss conductors are Solti, Karl Bohm, Rudolf Kempe, Haitink, Thieleman and Sinnopoli. 2)My favorie Strauss singers are Birgit Nilson, Elizabeth Scharzkopf, Cheryl Studer, Hildegard Behrens in Die Frau ohne Schatten, Bryn Terfel as Jokahanan.3) My favorite Strauss operas are Salome, Elektra, Die Frau ohne Schatten and the final scene from Capriccio with Renee Flemming - most beautiful music ever.
I love all his orchestral music - actually I love pretty much everything Strauss composed and am glad I do not have to choose. Who can beat those harmonies?

Jun. 12 2014 12:03 PM
Elaine from Brooklyn

Has there ever been a more sublime, transporting interpretation of the "Four Last Songs" than Jessye Norman's? I don't think so.

Jun. 12 2014 12:02 PM
Karl F. Miller from Austin, Texas

Favorite Strauss interpreters: Koussevitzky; Mengelberg

Jun. 12 2014 12:00 PM
David Anchel from New York, NY

My favorite Rosenkavelier is the 1962 film with
Herbert von Karajan, Otto Edelmann (Artist), Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Sena Jurinac

the most exciting live performance of Strauss was 1969 Die Frau Ohnee Schatten with
Empress.................Leonie Rysanek
Emperor.................James King
Dyer's Wife.............Christa Ludwig
Barak...................Walter Berry
Nurse...................Mignon Dunn

Jun. 12 2014 11:53 AM
arden broecking from Connecticut

My favorite Strauss recordings are:
Metamorphosen / conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen
Alpine Symphony - Karajan

Lieder singer- Elizabeth Schwarzkopf and Christa Ludwig
Birgit Nilsson/ Salome (Unforgettable!)

Jun. 12 2014 07:49 AM
Frank from UWS

I hope this countdown is less predictable than those awful classical countdowns WQXR does every New Year's where the same predetermined 10 pieces win the top slots every year (Beethoven 9, Dvorak 9, Mozart 40). How about some variety here? Alpine Symphony, not Don Juan. Elektra, not Der Rosenkavalier. Der Liebe Der Danae, not Arabella. There's much more to Strauss than the same big tone poems and Four Last Songs.

Jun. 12 2014 07:00 AM
Jule Foster from Philadelphia

The greatest operatic evening of my life was hearing Die Frau Ohne Shatten at the Wiener Staatsoper in 1977. It was Birgit Nilsson's first appearance in the opera. Karl Bohm was conducting. The performance was recorded live by Deutsche Grammophon.

Jun. 12 2014 12:19 AM
Oscar from Newark, NJ

Solti/VPO's ('62) Salome played by Brigit Nilsson has always been a constant favorite. Same with the Dennis Brain- Horn Concerti. Great stuff!

Jun. 11 2014 11:34 PM
Rosanna from NYC

Christa Ludwig as the Marschallin in "Der Rosenkavalier" : dynamite!

Jun. 11 2014 09:56 PM

Wow, David from NM. That's your favorite Strauss interpreter? (Pssst! Check out the headline.)

DD~~

Jun. 11 2014 09:37 PM
Steve from Memphis TN

Reiner/Chicago Symphony. Superb conducting, performance virtuosity and recorded sound. Few conductor/performer combinations grasp the lush beauty and surging vibrancy at the core of the Strauss sound as Reiner and the CSO. The brilliant and deeply golden CSO sound captured by RCA in the 1950s Orchestra Hall has had few rivals.

Jun. 11 2014 07:16 PM
Juvenal from Long Island

Ken Russell's "Dance of the Seven Veils," from 1970 and BBC, available in a very deteriorated visual quality version on YouTube, certainly gives a corrective (if that's the right word) to complete Strauss Worship.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u7r2JHq7LMs

Definitely worth a view, if only to ignite fury and "How unfair!"

Anyway, to certain POV's, a rich source of schadenfreude.

Jun. 11 2014 07:04 PM

Bernard Haitink's outing with the Concertgebouw in An Alpine Symphony is really, really good. Bohm's is also good. Most versions of Ein Heldenleben are well worth it and I seem to remember that the NY Phil had a version from the 1980s/1990s which (I'm not certain is still in print) is quite good.

But please avoid at all costs Strauss' Sinfonia Domestica interpreted by, well, anyone. Only in the most deft hands could that work cease being obnoxious and there isn't anyone I can think of who can do much more with that music than make it palatable (but only just).

Jun. 11 2014 06:09 PM
SteveNYC

Somehow I left out the sublime Rudolf Kempe from my list of favorites below.

Jun. 11 2014 03:22 PM
SteveNYC

Clemens Krauss, Böhm, Reiner, Szell, Furtwängler, Kleiber (father and son). Krauss was Strauss' protégé and late career collaborator and his performances are nearly definitive. I suppose his reputation today suffers because he made few if any stereo recordings and his personal politics were repulsive--he was an enthusiastic Nazi.

At least nobody has listed the execrable Dudamel and Previn as favorites.

Jun. 11 2014 03:20 PM
Michael from Brooklyn

Kempe's Metamorphosen. Vier Letze Lieder by Janowitz with Karajan and the BPO.

Jun. 11 2014 12:14 PM
Howard from Florida

"Ein Heldenleben" played by half of itsdedicatee's Williem Mengelberg (and the Concertgebouw Orchestra), recorded by the Philharmonic-Symphony Orchestra of New York
"A Domestic Symphony" with Wilhelm Furtwaengler and the Berlin Philharmonic

Jun. 11 2014 11:54 AM
Les from Miami, Florida

Death and Transfiguration with Toscanini, NBC Symphony;
Till Eulenspiegel's Merry Pranks with Toscanini, NBC Symphony;
Thus Spake Zarathustra with Fritz Reiner, Chicago Symphony;
Don Juan Cleveland with George Szell, Cleveland Orchestra;
An Alpine Symphony with Herbert von Karajan conducting the Berlin Philharmonic
Der Rosenkavalier with Reining, Novotna, George Szell, Salzburg Festival '49
Salome' with Welitsch, Jagel, Fritz Reiner, Metropolitan Opera, 1949
Elektra with Konetzni, Mo"dl, Dimitri Mitropoulos conducting the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, 1950
Ariadne auf Naxos, with Jurinac, Peters, Peerce, Erich Leinsdorf conducting the Vienna Philharmonic
Daphne with Bampton, Dermota, Erich Kleiber conducting the Teatro Colon forces, 1948

Jun. 11 2014 11:21 AM
MaryJo Wagner from Denver

Four Last Songs with Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Szell conducting. (Remastered)

Jun. 11 2014 11:11 AM
David from New Mexico

Richard Strauss was a misogynist who also sympathized with National Socialism. His "Die Frau ohne Schatten" is one of the most repellent operas I have ever seen.

Jun. 11 2014 10:17 AM
Horn Player Asharave from LI, NY

Dennis Brain's recording of the Horn Concerti on Angel vinyl.

Jun. 11 2014 10:03 AM
Kevin from DC

Antoni Wit's Metamorphosen is absolutely phenomenal. Karajan's Don Juan is also fantastic.

Jun. 11 2014 12:47 AM
Wordwizard

My favorite Strauss is SALOME. I was required to study it in grad school, and therefore own the complete conducting score with which to follow along.

Jun. 10 2014 11:07 PM
Bernard F. Dick from Teaneck NJ

Lisa della Casa's Four Last Songs. If there is a recoring of DER ROSENKAVALIER with Rise Stevens (a sublime Octavian), i haven'e been able to find it. I don't think Regine Crespin ever recorded it, but she was a heartbreaking Marshallin at the Met. During the grand levee, while her hair dresser was tending to her, she was creaming her face, and when she saw the result, uttered simply, "You have made me an old wife." Not an old woman but a wife ("Weib"). I experienced a frisson of motality at that moment. Was the Met premiere of ARABELLA with Eleanor Steber ever recorded? Thank you for Strauss week. I'll never forget della Casa, Stevens, and (I think) Laurel Hurley in ROSENKAVALIER from the first row of the Family Circle at the old Met in April 1956. Memories are made of this, as the Four Lads used to sing.

Jun. 10 2014 09:35 PM
Bernie from UWS

My picks:
Gustavo Dudamel conducts Don Juan (DG)
Renee Fleming - Four Last songs or Der Rosenkavalier trio (please, though, no more lugubrious Jesse Norman)
Any tone poems played by the Chicago Symphony (but no Karajan please!)
Eine Alpensinfonie - LSO & Haitink (LSO Live)

Jun. 10 2014 08:00 PM
Robert St.Onge from Cochiti Lake,NM

Any Richard Strauss conducted by Fritz Reiner, but especially the Final Scene from 'Salome' sung by Ljuba Welitsch with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra.

Jun. 10 2014 07:02 PM
Stephanie J. Hughes from Manchester, NJ

My Strauss favorite is the Alpine Symphony. You can feel, even see, the beauty of the mountains. It's fabulous!

Jun. 10 2014 05:56 PM
Richard from PA

Death and Transfiguration

Jun. 10 2014 04:24 PM

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