OP0517. ARIADNE AUF NAXOS, recorded 1968, Lukaskirche, Dresden, w. Kempe Cond. Staatskapelle Dresden; Gundula Janowitz, Teresa Zylis-Gara, Sylvia Geszty, James King, Theo Adam, Hermann Prey, etc. 2-Musical Heritage Society 527466W. Very long out-of-print, Final Sealed Copy! - 717794476620
“Kempe understands both the lyrical and humorous aspects of the opera and hones them into a coherent whole. This admirable and enjoyable set of what some consider Strauss' most satisfying opera all-round has been out of circulation for far too long. Beyond any other conductor who has tackled the work on disc except Böhm (neither of whose versions is at present available), Kempe understands both the lyrical and humorous aspects of the opera and hones them into a coherent whole. You can hear his attention to detail in his handling of the delicate accompaniment to the Dancing Master's little homily in the Prologue and in the recitative-like introduction to Zerbinetta's aria. His strict control of minutiae is underpinned by his unerring sense of rhythm and tempo, and in the final scene an ability to tighten the tension. Only Böhm can here surpass Kempe by virtue of an even greater sense of dramatic movement and an overview of the score….Kempe is inestimably helped by the echt Strauss orchestra, the Dresden Staatskapelle.
Nobody has actually sung Ariadne with such complete control of tone and technique as that shown by Janowitz. Her aristocratic phrasing, with an ideal movement between notes and a judicious use of portamento, is exemplary. Hers is the ideal kind of voice for the part, warm, lyrical and slightly vibrant…. Zylis-Gara's Composer is a kind of mirror-image of Janowitz's Ariadne. Apparently a shade cool the inner fires surely burn intensely underneath the surface. Happily a soprano in the part rather than the mezzo preferred today - but not by Strauss - she marries creamy tone with a near-perfect technique, and is wonderfully radiant in the Composer's glorious outburst near the end of the Prologue….Zylis-Gara is especially affecting in her romantic colloquy with Zerbinetta, here sung by Geszty with tremendous brio, character and fluency.
The recording, made in Dresden's Lukaskirche, tends to be a shade too reverberant, but the balance is natural and excellent between voices and instruments with both well forward. This would now be my unhesitating recommendation of a stereo version.”
- Alan Blyth, GRAMOPHONE, Nov., 1992]
“The reissue of this 1968 EMI recording is a cause for loud cheering: for this is one of the best of all Strauss opera recordings, and one of the elect among opera recordings of any kind. The work - an elaborate, richly wrought backstage comedy-drama with a disquisition on the nature of art at its centre - can seem one of the delights of the medium, or else a slightly arch, ponderous operatic conceit. The deciding factor is always the conductor, and here Rudolf Kempe, one of the century’s supreme Straussians, renders the piece whole, natural in balance (a tricky business given Strauss’ opulent scoring for chamber forces), fluently dramatic through all of its sections, and radiant of sound and substance in every bar. He has the inestimable bonus of the Dresden players, who are natives to this music, but the unfussed style of the performance - apparently so effortless, actually so hard to achieve - is the conductor’s hallmark. He also has the benefit of one of the best-balanced ARIADNE casts on record. One might argue that individual contributions have been equalled or even surpassed elsewhere; it is the apt matching and idiomatic rightness of the ensemble that one admires here.”
- Max Loppert
1968, Lukaskirche, Dresden