Stravinsky's Oedipus Rex
The Gramophone Choice
Coupled with Symphony of Psalms
Ivo Zídek ten Oedipus Věra Soukupová mez Jocasta Karel Berman bass Créon Eduard Haken bass Tiresias Antonin Zlesák ten Shepherd Zdeněk Kroupa bar Messenger Jean Desailly narr Prague Philharmonic Choir; Czech Philharmonic Orchestra / Karel Ančerl
Supraphon Historical SU3674-2 (74' · ADD) Recorded 1964-66. Buy from Amazon
Oedipus Rex, to words by Jean Cocteau, is one of Stravinsky’s most compelling theatre pieces, a powerful drama that re-enacts the full force of a glorious high spot in ancient culture. The fusion of words and music in Oedipus is masterly and arrests the attention consistently, from the animated severity of the opening narration, through the calculated tension of its musical argument to the tragic restraint of its closing pages. Karel Ančerl was one of Stravinsky’s most committed exponents.
This particular recording was taped in the Dvořák Hall of the House of Artists, Prague, and earned itself at least three major awards. Ančerl traces and intensifies salient points in the tragedy yet maintains a precise, sensitive touch. His vocal collaborators include the noble Karel Berman (Créon) who, like Ančerl himself, suffered considerably during the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia. Věra Soukupová is a fine Jocasta and the convincing but occasionally unsteady Ivo Zídek sings the part of Oedipus. Both here and in the Symphony of Psalms – one of the most serenely perceptive recorded performances of the work – the Prague Philharmonic Choir excel, while Supraphon’s 1960s engineering has an appealing brightness.