Brewer's Strauss


Of all the music Christine Brewer has recorded, she holds a special fondness for Strauss. It is thus fitting that on Great Strauss Scenes, her latest Telarc collaboration with Donald Runnicles and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, she has tackled three of the biggest dramatic roles in the Strauss operatic canon.

In Great Strauss Scenes, Brewer assumes no less formidable a character than Salome, a teenage crazy who has John the Baptist beheaded, kisses his icy lips and sings ecstatically to his head on a silver platter. Miraculously, Strauss expresses Salome's final bizarre moments in ecstatic lyrical flights. Brewer soars with the best, and then devotes equal strength to the Recognition scene of another seriously demented, vengeful woman with the hardly neutral name of Elektra.

Things aren't much the cheerier for the Dyer's wife in the world of Die Frau ohne Schatten (The Woman without a Shadow). Here, as in the Elektra excerpt, Brewer's partner is the magnificent Eric Owens. With Runnicles effusive in Salome's Dance of the Seven Veils and the Moonlight Interlude from Capriccio, this CD is a must.

I recently had the privilege of sitting close to soprano Brewer held forth in recital. Just as when I sat in the sixth row for her performance of Richard Strauss' Four Last Songs at Festival del Sole, I sat transfixed by the shining beauty of her voice. That Brewer is almost 55, yet singing with the warmth and sheen of youth, is as remarkable as her palpable joy in the act of singing.