When the young Karl Böhm, fresh from his studies in Vienna, returned to Graz to take up a post at the opera house, which had a good reputation, his place, naturally, was at the bottom of the ladder and the operas of the great Richard Strauss were quite simply out of his reach. He conducted a performance of the Alpine Symphony in the Stefaniensaal in Graz, and sent the laudatory reviews to Strauss, in the hope of making himself known to the composer as an interpreter of his work, but he was not allowed near the operas. And when, eventually, he did, it was Die Frau ohne Schatten, Ariadne auf Naxos and Elektra that he conducted much more so than Rosenkavalier or Salome. It may sound strange, but out of the 147 performances of Salome logged by the Vienna State Opera between 1945 and 1980 Böhm conducted only 14. His only official recording of the work was made ‘live’ in Hamburg on 4 November 1970. The part of the protagonist marked a first for Gwyneth Jones; it was later to become one of her signature roles.
“singing of grandeur and magical intensity [from Gwyneth Jones, in the last scene] [...] [Fischer-Dieskau’s] denunciation of the “Tochter Sodoms” chills the spine” Gramophone
“the best aspects of this live set are Richard Cassilly's Herod and Karl Böhm's adroitly disciplined conducting.” BBC Music Magazine
“Karl Böhm was probably the greatest Strauss opera conductor of his time. He was unique in the way he was able to combine the delicate transparency of the colorful orchestration and exotic harmony without underplaying the massive climaxes and Strauss’s “nerve-end contrapuntalism” Fanfare