Given how talky they are, Strauss' later comedies are ideal candidates for performance in English translation. Chandos broadens its extensive catalog of opera in English with this release of Strauss' Intermezzo in a performance starring Elisabeth Söderström at Glyndebourne in 1974. The density of the orchestration occasionally obscures the voices, making the text hard to make out, but Söderström's radiance and wit as Christine, Strauss' thinly veiled caricature of his wife, make this a performance that the composer's English-speaking fans will not want to miss. The opera stands or falls on the effectiveness of Christine, and Söderström is delightfully persuasive. The performance came from relatively late in the singer's career, but her voice had lost none of its luster or brilliance, and she sparkles in this role. Her English is impeccable and she comes across as a natural comedian. Christine is so clearly the focal point of the opera that the other roles seem almost peripheral. The supporting singers in this cast don't have Söderström's star power, but they are all very fine. Together they create an engaging ensemble of quirky and mostly lovable characters who create the optimal setting in which Söderström can shine. The playing of the London Philharmonic Orchestra, under the lively leadership of John Pritchard, sometimes lacks polish, but it is more than made up for in spirit and vitality. Andrew Porter's translation is elegant, idiomatic, and well-suited to voices. The sound, taken from a radio broadcast, is mostly good for a live performance and the balance is usually good.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Eddins
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2