Salome  (Reiner;  Welitsch, Hongen, Svanholm, Hotter, Sullivan)  (2-Walhall 0201)
Item# OP1455
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Salome  (Reiner;  Welitsch, Hongen, Svanholm, Hotter, Sullivan)  (2-Walhall 0201)
OP1455. SALOME, Live Performance, 19 Jan., 1952, w.Reiner Cond. Met Opera Ensemble; Ljuba Welitsch, Elisabeth Höngen, Hans Hotter, Set Svanholm, Brian Sullivan, etc. (E.U.) 2-Walhall 0201. - 4035122652017


"Let it be said at the outset that Welitsch's portrait of the Princess of Judea continues to fascinate and, in its peculiar way, to enchant. Her Salome remains remarkable both for vocal flexibility and dramatic force. She owns the ideal Salome voice, its silvery stream girlish when need be, but incredibly suggestive when it counts. Many things remain to admire. As the double basses sound their eerie notes and Salome hovers over the cistern, Welitsch's quickly ascending chatter captivates, and her whispered interjections fully convey Salome's pathological state. As the soprano comes before the gold curtain to bow, Cross tells us the Welitsch, with her 'shock of red hair' certainly is a tigress in this role, and right he is.....Hans Hotter's Jokanaan is the dominant portrayal of the afternoon. The intensity of his utterance and the emotive charge of his timbre immediately suggest the prophet's zeal and potency....Reiner's reading of the behemoth knows no blemish."

- Paul Jackson, SIGN-OFF FOR THE OLD MET, pp.66-67

�Fritz Reiner was a legend among conductors. Universally admired for his music-making, widely disliked for his aggressive and exacting temperament, and survived by a legacy of definitive recorded performances, he was largely responsible for the artistic ascendancy of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and exerted considerable influence on generations of musicians.

Born in Budapest in 1888, he studied piano with his mother and, at the age of 15, entered the Franz Liszt Academy -- an institution that also boasts Bela Bart�k, Zoltan Kod�ly, Ernst von Dohn�nyi, George Szell, Eugene Ormandy, Georg Solti and Antal Dorati as graduates. Reiner gained conducting experience at a number of regional opera houses before eventually returning to Budapest in 1911 to serve at the city's Volksoper, where his reputation as a conductor of special abilities finally emerged. In 1914 Reiner accepted a position at the Dresden Court Opera, where he formed a fortuitous relationship with both the conductor Arthur Nikisch and the composer Richard Strauss; Reiner would eventually give the German premier of Strauss' DIE FRAU OHNE SCHATTEN, and would remain a devoted interpreter of the composer's works throughout his career. The economic chaos and emergent anti-Semitism that followed the First World War made Reiner anxious to leave Europe, and an invitation (in 1921) to become the music director of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra provided just the right opportunity. From that point onward, Reiner's career was firmly rooted in the United States, where he became a citizen in 1928.

After resigning his post at Cincinnati Reiner became a professor of conducting at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where his students included both the young Leonard Bernstein and Lukas Foss; Bernstein, in particular, credited Reiner with a great deal of influence in his development. In 1938 he became the director of the Pittsburgh Symphony -- one of several positions that established Reiner as a fine builder of orchestras, with a talent for steering ensembles toward new levels of quality and success. A number of Reiner's well-known recordings stem from his tenure there. Guest appearances during his Pittsburgh years include those at Covent Garden and the San Francisco Symphony. From Pittsburgh he moved to the Metropolitan opera, where he remained on the conductor roster until 1953; his advocacy of Strauss' operas was especially strong there, and his performances of SALOME and ELEKTRA number among the most memorable evenings in the Met's history.

1953 was a watershed year for Reiner, since it was then that he assumed the directorship of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. This was to become his signature partnership, and the position that would establish his lasting legacy. His relationship with the orchestra was never a smooth one -- he was known for hostility and impatience in rehearsal, and for firing musicians for mistakes in concerts -- but he undeniably raised the ensemble from its status as a good American orchestra to that of one of the finest in the world. Unlike a number of other prominent conductors who excelled in narrow corners of the musical canon, Reiner maintained his excellent standards and clarifying precision throughout an especially broad repertory that crossed boundaries of nationality and style. He was as renowned for his performances of new works, such as Bart�k's Concerto for Orchestra -- a piece that Reiner himself commissioned from the dying composer -- and Alan Hovhaness' MYSTERIOUS MOUNTAIN as he was for his Mahler, Strauss and Haydn. His tenure in Chicago also resulted in what was then an unprecedented volume of fine recordings, some of which still remain as favorites, despite the [purported] improved fidelity of modern competitors. Reiner resigned from Chicago in 1962 (after only nine seasons), and died the following year of heart failure.�

- Allen Schrott,

Brian Sullivan was born on 9 August, 1912 in Oakland, California. He was an actor, known for Cavalcade of Stars (1949), The Ed Sullivan Show (1948) and Musical Comedy Time (1950).

A versatile, boyishly good-looking (in his younger days) tenor, he came from Broadway to spend fourteen seasons with the Metropolitan Opera, beginning with the title role in Benjamin Britten's PETER GRIMES in 1948. Other frequent roles with the company included Alfred in Johann Strauss II's DIE FLEDERMAUS, Tamino in Mozart's ZAUBERFLTE, Grigori in Mussorgsky's BORIS GODUNOV, and the title role in Wagner's LOHENGRIN. From what I can glean from the Internet and The Met Archives, Brian Sullivan sang in 162 performances at The Met, including his first performance as Peter Grimes 23 Feb., 1948, and ending with Alceste in 1961. He enjoyed an active career in the United States and Europe.

Brian Sullivan believed he had been engaged to sing in Wagners GTTERDMMERUNG in Switzerland. Apparently, he believed that he was contracted to star in the production but, in actuality, was just the understudy to the star, Claude Heater. When he failed to find an opportunity to sing in the production, Sullivan drowned himself on 17 June, 1969, as did Peter Grimes, a case of Life Imitating Art.

- Lloyd L. Thoms Jr., Greenville, Wilmington, Delaware