CHAN 3157
BBC Music Magazine
‘If it were only for the orchestra alone, this would now be the Salome of choice: never relentlessly feral but ineffably paced towards shocking climaxes, diaphanously clear, full of expressive orchestral solos (first violin especially) and naturally balanced in a recording which captures outlandish percussion touches like the lam-tam and timpani struck with triangle stick. One happily sits through this most sensuous of all dances again when it follows the opera as an extra with its concert ending.’
Opera in one act
Libretto by the composer
after Hedwig Lachmann's German translation of
Oscar Wilde's play of the same name
English translation of the German by Tom Hammond
The Cast
John Graham-Hall, tenor - Herod Antipas
Sally Burgess, mezzo-soprano - Herodias
Susan Bullock, soprano - Salome
John Wegner, baritone - Jokanaan
Andrew Rees, tenor - Narraboth
Rebecca de Pont Davies, mezzo-soprano - Herodias's page
Anton Rich, tenor - First Jew
Wynne Evans, tenor - Second Jew
Colin Judson, tenor - Third Jew
Alasdair Elliott, tenor - Fourth Jew
Jeremy White, bass - Fifth Jew
Michael Druiett, bass - First Nazarene
Robert Parry, tenor - Second Nazarene
Graeme Broadbent, bass - First Soldier
Alan Ewing, bass - Second Soldier
Roger Begley, bass - Cappadocian
Gerald Strainer, tenor - Slave

Philharmonia Orchestra
Sir Charles Mackerras - conductor

Recorded in Watford Colosseum 16-18 and 20-22 December 2007
Producer - Brian Couzens (Executive) and Brian Pidgeon, Sound engineer - Ralph Couzens,
Assistant engineer - Jonathan Cooper
‘The old jibe about the need for surtitles being felt most acutely when the opera is sung in English cannot be applied here. The words of Tom Hammond's translation are as clear as is humanly possible... Language apart, the distinction of this recording lies in the superb playing of the Philharmonia Orchestra under Sir Charles Mackerras. The ear for clarity and climax is infallible. The two great interludes are the points of summation in the first half of the opera and these are powerfully concentrated, while elsewhere Strauss's insistence on lightness of texture and touch (of which Michael Kennedy reminds us in his notes) is well observed. The famous dance goes through all its stages from the fierce attack of its opening, to the sinuous oriental movements, and the frantic abandon of the last veil.’
The Sunday Telegraph
‘It is good to have Susan Bullock in one of the major Strauss roles. It is a marvellous piece of singing, not conventionally beautiful but always lyrical and sensuous. and with a deep understanding of the text John Wegner's Jokanaan is magisterial; John Graham-Hall and Sally Burgess are superb as Herod and Herodias, wonderful roles: and Rebecca Pont-Davies and Andrew Rees make their mark as the Page and Narraboth. The five Jews benefit from Tom Hammond's translation - for once one can hear and understand what they are arguing about.’
The Daily Telegraph
‘Hearing the text of Strauss's Salome on disc sung in English - in close-up, as it were - certainly brings out the story's decadence and goriness. No half-heard stage Salome or translated surtitle can have the blood-curdling immediacy of hearing Susan Bullock's princess greet her horrific prize with the words, "I have a need to bite you, to bite you as one desires to bite into ripened fruit." As well as conveying the character's headstrong nature, Bullock boasts diction that is almost frighteningly clear - testament, too, to the lucidity and aptness of Tom Hammond's translation of a libretto that has already passed through German on the way from Oscar Wilde's original French. Alongside Bullock's spellbinding and radiant Salome, the other most impressive protagonists in this performance are the Philharmonia Orchestra and Charles Mackerras. The conductor's Straussian credentials are sometimes forgotten in the wake of his unrivalled Mozart, Handel and Janacek, but this recording reminds us how commanding he can be in big, Romantic soundscapes while keeping the music in motion and the dramatic energy levels high. The orchestra, no stranger to the late-Romantic repertoire itself, responds with playing of both seductive beauty and brutal power.’