Intermezzo

It has been said that the best music in Richard Strauss’ Intermezzo is in the orchestral interludes that link the various scenes.  It’s probably true and certainly the singers don’t get much interesting to sing with the best music given to the orchestra even during the scenes.  That said, all of the music is vastly better than the truly cringe-worthy libretto, also by Strauss.  It’s in prose, much of it is spoken and there are odd interjections of more vernacular German for the servants, rather in the manner of the random cockney in ancient Ealing films.  The plot is based on an, aaparently real life, episode in the married life of the Strausses, here thinly disguised as the Storches, in which Frau Storch gets the wrong end of the stick about suspected infedelity by her husband and threatens divorce.  If Frau Strauss ever saw the piece, which is apparently unlikely, she might reasonably have seen the portrayal of herself by her husband as much sounder grounds for dumping him.  Christine Storch is the sort of woman one wants to tie up in a sack and drown!

1.bedroom

So, it’s not a particularly distinguished work and there’s only one video recording in the catalogue.  It’s a 1983 Glyndebourne production by John Cox and it’s given in Andrew Porter’s English translation which is characteristically smooth and idiomatic.  The Storch’s are very well played by John Pringle and Felicity Lott and the supporting parts are all well managed too.  Gustav Kuhn conducts the London Philharmonic and it’s just fine.  Sets and costumes are completely literal with a bit of an art deco twist.  Rather good black and white images are projected during the many scene changes/orchestral interludes.  All in all, a clean and straightforward treatment that probably makes as persuasive a case for the work as one reasonably could.

2.tobogganDavid Buckton films the show in a perfectly straightforward 1980s TV sort of way.  The picture (4:3 aspect ratio) and the stereo sound are distinctly better than many recordings from this era.  The North American release on Kultur is characteristically stark with no documentation or extras and only English subtitles.

3.cardsIn summary, it’s a perfectly serviceable production, performance and recording but I’m rather at a loss as to why anyone would bother with it at all.

4.packing

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