Christine Brewer / Donald Runnicles / Atlanta Symphony Orchestra

Great Strauss Scenes

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Soprano Christine Brewer has a terrific voice for Strauss -- large, warm, colorful, with a velvety legato and the ability to soar over the orchestra -- and in this release, she tackles three of the most tempestuously charged scenes from his operas. These extended scenes are as much a showcase for the orchestra as for the soloist, and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, expertly led by Donald Runnicles, throws itself with abandon into this tumultuous music, playing with the supple assurance and opulent tone of the most acclaimed orchestras. The ensemble is featured by itself in two tracks, the first of which, the rhapsodic, luminescent Moonlight Interlude from Capriccio, serves as a palate cleanser between the frenzy of the Recognition Scene from Elektra and the anguish of the Imprisonment Scene from Die Frau ohne Schatten, and the second of which, the Dance of the Seven Veils from Salome, sets the tone for the chilling Final Scene from the opera. Brewer cuts loose with all the power the scene from Elektra demands and convincingly captures the extremity of her character's chaotic emotions. She is equally powerful in her expression of the Dyer's Wife's anguish. As Orest and Barak, bass Eric Owens sings with resonance but tends to sound stiff. Brewer is somewhat less effective in the scene from Salome, not because of any vocal or interpretive deficit, but because of the maturity of her voice, and she fails to be fully persuasive as an adolescent, but it’s a rare singer with the vocal heft the role requires who can pull that trick off. The sound of Telarc's CD is exceptionally clean and clear.

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