Richard Strauss – Josephs Legende

‘Richard Strauss’s score for the ballet Josephs Legende is absolutely fantastic, requiring a huge orchestra, larger than in any of Strauss’s operas, which naturally makes it logistically challenging and limits the frequency of performances of the work. Imagine fitting a gigantic orchestra including three keyboards, four harpists, two tubas and a massive percussion section into an orchestra pit! But the music is not just loud and opulent; it’s also pretty amazing in the subtle moments, including delicate passages where only four soloists play together for two minutes. The piece is incredibly challenging and untypical of Strauss, even though it still contains many moments reminiscent of his style.’

Fabrice Bollon, conductor

Richard STRAUSS (1864–1949)
Josephs Legende

Staatskapelle Halle • Fabrice Bollon

Richard Strauss’s single-act ballet Josephs Legende emerged in 1914 just as the world’s attention was turning to war. But with its exotic instrumental colouring and the composer’s intent to rejuvenate dance into a ‘purely inspirational form’ dedicated to ‘absolute beauty’, it reveals a great ballet composer and demonstrates his orchestral mastery to the full. Josephs Legende is a parable about struggles between good and evil based on the familiar Old Testament story of the slave boy Joseph. The work’s dramatic tale is set with alluring sensuality expressed through Strauss’s gift for soaring themes.

Listen to an extract from Potiphars Frau fährt im Augenblick
(Potiphar’s wife makes a convulsive move)
About the Artists

Conductor/composer Fabrice Bollon has made numerous appearances with renowned European orchestras and from 2009 to 2021 served as general music director/chief conductor at Germany’s Theater Freiburg, overseeing many recordings for Naxos including a remarkable interpretation of Korngold’s opera Das Wunder der Heliane (8.660410-12); his work there garnered international acclaim, including Editor’s Choice accolades in Gramophone magazine and Diapason d’Or Awards. He has been chief conductor of the Staatskapelle Halle and general music director of the Halle Opera since August 2022.

The Staatskapelle Halle is one of the largest symphony orchestras in Central Germany. With a vast range of symphonic repertoire spanning five centuries, the 115 musicians act as cultural ambassadors far beyond the city’s boundaries. Of particular note is the orchestra’s focus on George Frideric Handel and music of the Baroque period; for the past 30 years, musicians from the Staatskapelle Halle have devoted themselves to performance practice on historical instruments – a unique concept in the German orchestral landscape.

More albums featuring the music of Richard Strauss
‘The performance by JoAnn Falletta and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, again beautifully recorded, really hits the spot and does full justice to the special melodic sound-world of Strauss. The words opulent and passionate readily spring to mind.’
MusicWeb International
ODE 1202-2
Three Hymns • Opera arias

Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra • Kamu
‘Soile Isokoski is a magnificent Strauss soprano … these are absolutely magnificent, virtually unknown examples of Strauss at his very, very best doing what he did best, which is writing ecstatic music for the soprano voice.’
An Alpine Symphony

Staatskapelle Weimar • Wit
‘Wit’s highly imaginative performance, with the remarkably fine Weimar Orchestra, is in the class of Kempe … Throughout, the Naxos recording is wonderfully vivid and spectacular, and the disc is a well-documented one, too.’
OA1046D [DVD]

Watson • Henschel • Uhl • Kollo • Dohmen
Philharmonia Chor Wien • Münchner Philharmoniker
Thielemann • Wernicke
‘This is a terrific Elektra, conducted with the required intensity by Christian Thielemann. I will without doubt return to it again for pleasure—well, pleasure is not really the proper word for Elektra, but you see what I mean—and that’s recommendation enough.’
MusicWeb International
Also available on Blu-ray Video (OABD7082D)
DYN-37970 [DVD]
Ariadne auf Naxos

Werba • Koch • Glueckert • Pratt • Stoyanova
Orchestra del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino
Gatti • Hartmann
‘The cast is dominated by the dignified Ariadne of Krassimira Stoyanova. Her soprano retains its silvery sheen and she has the glorious ability to sing Straussian lines as though they are naturally occurring to her.’
Opera Now
Also available on Blu-ray Video (DYN-57970),
Disc and Streaming (CDS7970.02)
For the full list of albums featuring music by Richard Strauss, follow this link.

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