Iván Fischer

Richard Strauss: Josephs Legende

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Richard Strauss composed his 1914 ballet Josephs Legende, Op. 63, for Sergei Diaghilev's Ballets Russes, with Vaslav Nijinski in mind for the role of Joseph. However, Nijinski, who had starred in Igor Stravinsky's Le Sacre du printemps the year before, abandoned the troupe to elope with Hungarian dancer Romola de Pulszky and was summarily fired by Diaghilev, so he never danced the part, leaving it to an inexperienced Léonide Massine to carry on in his stead. This incident, along with the interruption of the performing season by World War I, is often cited as the main reason why the ballet was ultimately neglected, though it must be said that its enormous instrumentation would prove to be prohibitive for future performances, especially after the war reduced most European orchestras to chamber-sized ensembles. Now, of course, there is no impediment to performing this massive score, and Iván Fischer and the Budapest Festival Orchestra have contributed a worthy performance to the small list of available recordings. The ballet is fresh, lush, sensuous, and violent, and Strauss pulls out all the stops in this lurid tale of Joseph and Potiphar's wife, evoking his earlier Salome and Elektra in many spots. Fischer and his orchestra imbue this opulent score with vivid colors and nervous energy, and there is an almost palpable feeling of tension that sustains interest throughout. Channel's sound quality is clean and warm, and despite the density of the orchestration, most details can be heard clearly.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Josephs Legende, ballet, Op. 63 (TrV 231)
1
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0:30
2
0:33
3
0:07
4
0:06
5
0:07
6
0:12
7
0:34
8
1:00
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0:21
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0:24
11
1:42
12
2:43
13
0:22
14
0:43
15
2:51
16
0:28
17
0:36
18
0:38
19
1:23
20
0:38
21
0:15
22
0:52
23
0:36
24
1:10
25
1:53
26
1:19
27
1:57
28
1:15
29
3:31
30
3:14
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0:26
32
1:02
33
2:18
34
2:12
35
3:32
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1:31
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1:38
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0:15
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1:49
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0:26
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0:12
42
0:57
43
0:11
44
1:49
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0:24
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0:08
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0:32
48
0:10
49
0:58
50
0:25
51
0:26
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0:08
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0:23
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0:30
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0:17
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0:30
57
0:30
58
0:34
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0:31
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0:20
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0:49
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0:36
63
0:30
64
0:24
65
1:27
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0:10
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0:05
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0:54
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0:25
70
1:34
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