Strauss: Capriccio - Della Casa, Prey, Holm; Hegar. Munich, 1960
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It is hard to believe that Richard Strauss could write such a light, plotless paean to the glory of opera in 1941, when his homeland was in the grip of the Nazi Party and he himself was having to walk a dangerous tightrope, using his influence to further the safety of his Jewish in-laws and friends. Perhaps he wrote it to recapture the lost world of his youth, perhaps to make a final statement on art. Whichever the case, he would be very pleased by this sumptuous, elegant performance from Munich, lead with a light touch and a firm sweep by Robert Hegar. Lisa Della Casa is at the center of this salon entertainment, delivering a golden-voiced, slightly melancholy Gräfin Madeline. Her two suitors, the composer and the poet, are given equally alluring cases by the sweet-toned Richard Holm and the great Hermann Prey, caught in his very best form. Gisela Litz and Horst Günther turn in finely etched supporting performances as Madeline’s brother and the actress Clarion, and the great wagnerian Kurt Böhme shows off his lighter side as the pragmatic theater manager La Roche. There's even a sparkling cameo from the great coloratura Erika Köth in the tiny role of the Italian soprano. Captured in excellent sound, this performance is not to be missed.