Elektra   (Kempe;   Gerda Lammers, Otakar Kraus)    (2-Royal Opera House Heritage ROHS004)
Item# OP1344
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Elektra   (Kempe;   Gerda Lammers, Otakar Kraus)    (2-Royal Opera House Heritage ROHS004)
OP1344. ELEKTRA, Live Performance, 29 May, 1958, w.Kempe Cond. Royal Opera House Ensemble; Gerda Lammers, Georgine von Milinkovic, Hedwig Müller-Bütow, Edgar Evans, Otakar Kraus, etc. (England) 2-Royal Opera House Heritage ROHS004. Slipcase Edition. Long out-of-print, Final copy! - 5024545431124

CRITIC REVIEWS:

"Lammers scored a triumph [above], and the evidence can be found right here. She’s a strong singer with a solid, beautiful top register; and her voice is firm through its range. She has excellent diction and clearly knows the role….Otakar Kraus stands out as one of the best recorded Orests….He has a smooth but robust voice and he colors the words very well. The recognition scene is unusually affecting; Lammers and Kraus both sing it with deep feeling."

- Kurt Moses, AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE, July/Aug., 2007



"Resnik remembered Lammers’ Elektra as 'more innocent, warmer than most (making) Elektra's revenge seem more justified. The turmoil was seething inside her. It only came out in the end'. Further, 'she made one understand the drama. Because of her innate sympathy, she actually suggested that some rapport with her mother might be possible. That heightened the tension'. Lammers’ metallic soprano is shorn of opulence, being somewhat heady and hardish, with the text admirably clear. It is hardly a conventionally beautiful sound but is capable of beauty and warmth, especially in the ironically chilling scene where Elektra promises the hapless Chrysothemis sisterly affection in return for help in murdering their mother! The listener is aware of a narrow, not unpleasing, vibrato in Lammers’ opening lines which together with a dark colouring underlines the raddled and unbalanced nature of Elektra’s character. Yet this vibrato reduces considerably as the voice opens upwards: '…rings um dein Grab'. Overall, the voice is well placed for Elektra. It would be easy to write an essay about Elektra's opening Monologue here, such is the detail and sweep of drama unearthed by Lammers and Kempe. Listen to how the music slows and settles into a deep moan from the tubas before Elektra sings 'Agamemnon! Agamemnon!' in her opening monologue. And Lammers’ succinct response gives natural and intelligent shape to both the words and the drama. She rings out 'Agamemnon! Vater!' and then powers down so that '..zeig dich deinem Kind!' softens and slowly melds into the most gorgeous response from the violins, so lyrical under Kempe. Next hear how Lammers’ tone is edged with viciousness, almost shrewish, as she sings how Elektra will slaughter the royal horses and dogs at her father's grave. Then she lightens and lilts rhythms with obvious care, joining in the orchestra’s joyous anticipatory dance. In the final scene I was most interested in how Kempe markedly drops both tempo and temperature as Elektra sings 'Can I not hear it? / Not hear the music? / It comes from myself', the ensuing waltz not mad, but loving and tender, emphasising the interior drama and the light soon to be ended. The orchestra then builds a frenzy towards a scream from the trumpets following '… vir Vollbringenden' that almost rival the Vienna Philharmonic under Sinopoli."

- David Harbin, Musicweb International, 6 Dec., 2006





"…one of the most exultant accounts of Strauss’ ‘utmost limits of polyphony’ to which we have yet had access. Kempe, a compelling narrator of Strauss and Wagner, is caught here at the peak of his powers….Lammers’ Elektra is on another planet of human stress and experience….no other version I know is so uninhibited in the orchestral accompaniment to Elektra’s fatal last dance…."

- Mike Ashman, GRAMOPHONE, Dec., 2006





“Georgine von Milinkovic; was a Croatian operatic mezzo-soprano of Czech birth, particularly associated with Wagner and Strauss roles. After vocal studies in Zagreb and Vienna, she sang at the Zürich Opera from 1937 to 1940, and then in Hilversum and later in Prague from 1945 until 1948. She made her début at the Munich State Opera and the Vienna State Opera in 1948, where the major part of her career was to take place. She also appeared at the Salzburg Festival, where she created the role of Alkmene in Richard Strauss' DIE LIEBE DER DANAE, in 1952. She sang at the Bayreuth Festival from 1954, in roles such as Fricka, Magdalene, Grimgerde, Second Nom, etc. She made guest appearances at the Edinburgh Festival and the Holland Festival, and the Royal Opera House in London.

She was also admired in Strauss' DIE SCHWEIGSAME FRAU and ELEKTRA (as Klytemnestra), as well as in Verdi roles such as Eboli, Amneris, and Bizet's Carmen.”

- Z. D. Akron



“One of the great unsung conductors of the middle twentieth century, Rudolf Kempe enjoyed a strong reputation in England but never quite achieved the international acclaim that he might have had with more aggressive management, promotion, and recording. Not well enough known to be a celebrity but too widely respected to count as a cult figure, Kempe is perhaps best remembered as a connoisseur's conductor, one valued for his strong creative temperament rather than for any personal mystique. He studied oboe as a child, performed with the Dortmund Opera, and, in 1929, barely out of his teens, he became first oboist of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra. His conducting début came in 1936, at the Leipzig Opera; this performance of Lortzing's DER WILDSCHÜTZ was so successful that the Leipzig Opera hired him as a répétiteur. Kempe served in the German army during World War II, but much of his duty was out of the line of fire; in 1942 he was assigned to a music post at the Chemnitz Opera. After the war, untainted by Nazi activities, he returned to Chemnitz as director of the opera (1945-1948), and then moved on to the Weimar National Theater (1948-1949). From 1949 to 1953 he served as general music director of the Staatskapelle Dresden, East Germany's finest orchestra. He then moved to the identical position at the Bavarian State Opera in Munich, 1952-1954, succeeding the young and upwardly mobile Georg Solti. During this period he was also making guest appearances outside of Germany, mainly in opera: in Vienna (1951), at Covent Garden (1953), and at the Metropolitan Opera (1954), to mention only the highlights. Although he conducted Wagner extensively, especially at Covent Garden, Kempe did not make his Bayreuth début until 1960. As an opera conductor he was greatly concerned with balance and texture, and singers particularly appreciated his efforts on their behalf. Kempe made a great impression in England, and in 1960 Sir Thomas Beecham named him associate conductor of London's Royal Philharmonic. Kempe became the orchestra's principal conductor upon Beecham's death the following year, and, after the orchestra was reorganized, served as its artistic director from 1963 to 1975. He was also the chief conductor of the Zürich Tonhalle Orchestra from 1965 to 1972, and of the Munich Philharmonic from 1967 until his death in 1976. During the last year of his life he also entered into a close association with the BBC Symphony Orchestra. Interpretively, Kempe was something of a German Beecham. He was at his best -- lively, incisive, warm, expressive, but never even remotely self-indulgent -- in the Austro-Germanic and Czech repertory. Opera lovers prize his versions of LOHENGRIN, DIE MEISTERSINGER, and ARIADNE AUF NAXOS. His greatest recorded legacy, accomplished during the last four or five years of his life, was the multi-volume EMI set of the orchestral works and concertos of Richard Strauss, performed with the highly idiomatic Dresden Staatskapelle. These recordings were only intermittently available outside of Europe in the LP days, but in the 1990s EMI issued them on nine compact discs.”

- James Reel, Rovi