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Probably more exciting for Straussians is a new recording of Feuersnot, the composer’s 1901 homage to (and dig at) Die Meistersinger. A curious piece, where a sorcerer will only reignite Munich’s fires – through which lovers must leap to affirm their fidelity – in exchange for a knee trembler with ‘a virgin in heat’. Said virgin is pressed into service, and as she enjoys the encounter with seeming gusto the fires burst back into life, the day is saved and everyone ends up with a smile on their face. Mad, but well worth listening to, as the music points the way to Strauss of the future – toe-tapping waltzes, duets of erotic vocal entwining, and some dissonant harbingers of Salome (which followed four years later). Ulf Schirmer extracts maximum juice from the score, the Münchner Rundfunkorchester plays magnificently and the children’s extensive and complex choral work is outstanding. Markus Eiche is Kunrad, the sorcerer, and his mellifluous and high-lying baritone has no problems with the top Fs and Gs that abound. Simone Schneider as Diemut, who drops her drawers for the greater good, has a rich soprano and is unfazed by the demands of the role. Highly recommended.

Francis Muzzu Read the full review on Agora Classica

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