Classical CD of the month

That this is the Strauss of Salome can be gathered from reading the accompanying synopsis - all that salaciously described seduction and disrobing.

Name: Josephs Legende, Opus 63
Composer: Richard Strauss
Artists: Budapest Festival Orchestra/Ivan Fischer
Label: Channel Classics

For the legend of Joseph we're in the decadent biblical terrain of Herod rather than the more wholesome Egypt of Andrew Lloyd Webber.

Even if you bypass the booklet, you can quickly hear it in the score.

Luscious, thickly orchestrated lines are suffocatingly warm. Beauty is depicted in tones so rich that corruption can never be far behind.

This early ballet score is rarely heard. Diaghilev intended that the ballet should be danced by Nijinsky but the two fell out before its premiere.

And in the event, the first performance, immediately before the First World War, took place in a Paris seething with antipathy to anything German.

Yet conductor and orchestra throw their all into the work, unearthing all its eroticism and disturbing undertones. As our reviewer Ivan March, concludes: 'Ivan Fischer and the enlarged Budapest Festival Orchestra give a magnificent account of the work, readily going over the sensual top when Strauss demands it, but with Fischer ensuring that Strauss's underlying lyrical flow moves seamlessly but erotically onwards to the final climax. This is surely a work for sumptuous surround sound, which is exactly what the Channel Classics recording team provide, and very impressively, too.'

James Inverne is editor of Gramophone

A full review is published in the July issue

We have five copies of Josephs Legende Op 63 from Channel Classics, to give away. To win one, send an email to, titled 'Strauss', by Friday 22 June at 12pm, giving your postal address.

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