OP0389. FRIEDENSTAG (Strauss), w.Sinopoli Cond. Staatskapelle Dresden; Albert Dohmen, Alfred Reiter, Tom Martinsen, Jochen Kupfer, Johan Botha, Deborah Voigt, etc. DG 463 494, Slipcase Edition w.Elaborate Libretto-Brochure. Very long out-of-print, Final Sealed Copy! - 028946349427
"Although FRIEDENSTAG (1938) may not be, and probably never can be, one of the more celebrated of Strauss's operas, it occupies a particularly interesting place in his life. It was conceived and written during the later 1930s, at the time when his relationship with the Nazis was at its most difficult.
Although the libretto for FRIEDENSTAG was by Josef Gregor, he had been recommended to Strauss by the Jewish poet Stefan Zweig (librettist of the earlier opera DIE SCHWEIGSAME FRAU (1936), who became black-listed by the Nazis and left Germany in 1938.
FRIEDENSTAG is cast in a single act and, as its name suggests, is a celebration of the ideal of peace. The style is relatively austere, concerning a story set in the early 17th century during the Thirty Years War.
It is no surprise that FRIEDENSTAG has been recorded relatively few times, just as it is seldom performed in the theatre. But as we would expect of a master like Strauss, the work contains fine music and a true understanding of how its particular agenda can communicate to an audience. It is also a one act opera which lacks an obvious partner.
This good new recording takes a worthy place alongside a rather distinguished discography. In fact the opera's original cast recorded the piece. The cast featured artists of the calibre of Hans Hotter and Viorica Usuleac, conducted by Clemens Krauss, and Strauss supervised the recording sessions. The there is a version on Koch Classics (37111-2) [OP0367] conducted by Robert Bass, with a talented cast throughout the long list of characters.
The greatest strength of this performance is the marvelous choral singing, which is also well recorded and expertly balanced by both the engineers and the conductor. The noble closing scene is therefore splendidly effective and life-enhancing. Deborah Voigt as the Commandant's wife has the only female role of any importance, and she makes a strong impression, as her Wagnerian credentials would lead us to expect. She is at her best in the more forceful music, but she does not quite summon the eloquence that the part demands."
- Terry Barfoot, MusicWebInternational