Wednesday, December 27, 2006

A Christmas without Tower

Just for the record, Christmas sans Tower is not pretty. I ended up at the Virgin Megastore in search of a Salome for my father on the 24th and was greeted with exactly two options. (Tho it should be noted that Chicago Virgin Megastore is considerably quieter and more bearable than either Union or Times Square Megastores, so kudos for not being a slave to your prefix, Chicago Virgin Store.)

I opted for Behrens/Karajan over Nilsson/Solti since 1) I really like Behrens' Salome and 2) methinks the Nilsson cover is a bit unsettling for a Christmas present. Anyhow, the Chicago Virgin Megastore now offers exactly one Salome option. Yes, there are certainly bigger problems in the world, but let's just acknowledge that this is a difference.

P.S. To respond to what seems like the fairly common view that Borders "has a good section": no, no it does not. I recall New York Borders (I'm thinking of Park and 57th) being marginally better than the two-thirds-of-a-Beethoven-cycle-and-Il-Divo-overstock offered at the outposts here, but that ain't saying much.

7 comments:

Alex Ross said...

i'm sure the good taste is accidental, but the Behrens/Karajan Salome has long been my favorite (and I am obsessed with this opera, owning 15 recordings of it).

Alex said...

Indeed...it's like, despite the CW that middle-aged people capable of singing it could never hope to suggest the teenager they are portraying, Behrens goes ahead and does exactly that. I love how fragile and naive she sounds in the early Jokanananaan encounter. It is creepy and spine tingling and awesome all at once. Also, the VPO sounds hot on it.

straussmonster said...

I love that Salome too!

Oh, for the days of Rose Records in downtown Chicago. (I would ask for things and my conference-going father would always return with the clerk's recommended recording.) Still a great city for book shopping--I miss Powell's something awful.

Alex said...

Let me second that shout out for the old downtown Rose Records. The people in the classical section were genius. I vividly remember going there with my mother and listening to someone detail the obscure recordings of Mozart's "Ah ! vous dirai-je, Maman" (Twinkle Twinkle Little Star) variations in stock.

Alex Ross said...

The other great thing about the Karajan Salome is the Herod of Karl-Walter Böhm, a tenor about whom I otherwise know nothing. He really sings the lyric stretches of the role, doesn't shout it or mutter it (too often the role is given to tenors who sing Mime, etc.). Yet he is very good at the creepy rasping that is definitely necessary in places ("Sie ist ein Ungeheuer, deine Tochter!") It's this performance as much as Behrens' that puts the recording on the top of the pile. Herod is a relatively young man, too — Herodias should sound like his mother.

Maury D'annato said...

I have fond memories of Behrens during her vocal Indian summer at age 60 or 61 singing a fine Salome in Houston. It was this crazy Atom Egoyan production, and Eschenbach was doing his Big Slow Thing, which tripped Behrens up a little, but she really kind of pulled it off anyway, and boy could she turn on the theatrics when she wanted to. (See also her Elektra with Rysanek and Josephine Barstow, perhaps my first truly great night at the opera.)

Chalkenteros said...

Karl-Walter Böhm is definitely one of the shining gems in the Karajan/Behrens Salome. And I'm publicly thanking Alex Ross for recommending this version, er somewhere on one of these blogs, about a year ago. I get the creepy tingles when Böhm sings "Salomeeeeeeee, komm trink wein mit mir." Unctious goodness.