Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Rene Pape, Soile Isokoski, Werner Güra|
Beethoven- Fidelio / Domingo, Meier, Struckmann, Pape, Isokoski, Güra, Youn, Staatskapelle Berlin, Barenboim
This interesting new Fidelio--one of over a dozen available--has a couple of things going very much in its favor, and a couple against it, too. A great pro is the leadership of Daniel Barenboim, who wrings from the orchest... more »
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This interesting new Fidelio--one of over a dozen available--has a couple of things going very much in its favor, and a couple against it, too. A great pro is the leadership of Daniel Barenboim, who wrings from the orchestra and chorus fabulous playing and singing; just on a symphonic level, this is worth hearing. Barenboim also paces the work sensibly--those who do not like huge, glacial performances of this opera (i.e., fans of the superb Klemperer or various Furtwängler readings) or the "new school" of Beethoven conducting that seems to prefer racing through his music (occasionally in Gardiner or Harnoncourt) will welcome the inner tension Barenboim deeply understands in the music as well as his sympathy for his singers. This set grew out of a live performance in which all dialogue was cut and replaced, at times, with a flashback narration by Leonore. Here we get only the music Beethoven composed with no dialogue at all; the text Leonore spoke is printed in the accompanying booklet. It's not enough--one misses some dialogue, however brief and abbreviated, between numbers. This seems like a set of highlights without any. The quality of the soloists varies: Soile Isokoski and Werner Güra make a nice pair of youngsters; René Pape's Rocco is exactly the right combination of toady and good guy and he sings gloriously, and Falk Struckmann draws Pizarro villainously and manages his way around the difficult music. Domingo's Florestan is handsomely sung--almost too Italianately beautiful at times--but well thought through, and if not quite on the Jon Vickers level, certainly not terribly far away. Waltraud Meier's career continues to astonish. This pushed-up mezzo with an ugly tone has intelligence and passion in her voice, but the sound is curdled. Doesn't anyone notice that she sings off key and harshly half the time? So, a mixed bag: Domingo and Barenboim fans will need this, but it's like getting only a part of Fidelio (Barenboim, by the way, begins the opera with the Leonore Overture No. 2; an appendix includes the other three overtures Beethoven wrote for this work), and Meier is outclassed by every other Leonore on CD. Why not go for the recent Halasz reading on Naxos? It's good, it's cheap, and there's just enough dialogue to keep the plot intelligible. --Robert Levine
A Wonderful Change !
Daniel Guy | Israel | 04/21/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have ignored all the warnings concerning this recording, and decided to buy it, only because i have much appreciation to Daniel Barenboim's musical taste, and to Waltraud Meier's singing. It is true, it isn't an ordinary Fidelio. The dialogues (which are quite boring anyhow) are missing, and the main singer (Leonore- sung here by Waltraud Meier) doesn't seem to fit to the role THEORETICALY. But thought it seems like a failure, the recording is simply outstanding. The singers reach new levels, Falk Struckmann's Pizaro is amazingly strong. Domingo's Florestan is a bit too soft, but that brings more beauty to the role. Waltraud Meier's Leonore, is amazingly inteligenty interpreted. Many reviewers say that Meier doesn't have the vocal capabilites to sing Loenore. Well, it isn't an ordinary leonore, and it certainly isn't very gentle. But it is amazingly strong, full of true emotions, and the singing is beautiful. I reject the reviews saying Meier is singing off key. Don't forget it is a studio recording, if something went wrong, you should rely on Daniel Barenboim as a conducter, and Waltraud Meier as one of today's greatest interpreters to fix it. I give this recording full 5 stars. I find it astonishingly good !"
One of two new releases
F. Behrens | Keene, NH USA | 02/22/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Beethoven lovers take note: there are two new "Fidelio's" available, neither of which is perfect but both of which are quite good in their own ways. The from Naxos (8.660070-71) follows the last revision and uses the "Fidelio" Overture, followed by the Gilbert & Sullivan-like duet. It also has just enough dialogue to let you follow the plot, provided you read German, since there is no English translation of the libretto. The offering from Teldec (3984-25249-2) uses the "Leonore No.2," followed by Marzelline's aria and then the duet. It omits the dialogue entirely, based as it is on a Chicago production that had the Leonore narrate the plot between her entrances. The booklet inconveniently supplies these notes in the introduction and not in the libretto, which is tri-lingual in case you need a French as well as an English translation of the German. Each set has a good Florestan in Gosta Winbergh (Nax.) and Placido Domingo (Tel.). In general, the Naxos cast is lighter voiced with a good Leonore in Inga Nielsen and a more than adequate Pizzaro in Alan Titus. The only sour note is the terribly sounding Fernando (Wolfgang Glashof) who seems to have been given the part because someone owed it to him. And how good it is to hear the deep bass of Kurt Moll as Rocco. The Telarc set has Domingo, I think, to thank for its existence, and he is splendid. The rest of the cast is fine, except--and this is fatal--for Waltraud Meier, who used to sing mezzo and does not seem up to the demands of the title role. The Naxos set has the Hungarian Radio Chorus and Nicolaus Esterhazy Sinfonia under Michael Halasz in a nicely paced, (again) somewhat lightweight but very enjoyable rendering. On Telarc, we have the chorus of the Deutschen Staatsoper Berlin and the Staatskapelle Berlin under Daniel Barenboim, who plays as an appendix the other three overtures Beethoven wrote for the different versions of this work. Which one to buy? Domingo fans will of course go for the Teldec.. Others might opt for the Naxos at about half the price. I plan to enjoy both."
Is this really Beethoven's "Fidelio"?
Joseph A. Newsome | Burlington, NC United States | 04/02/2000
(3 out of 5 stars)
"There are regrettably few excellent recordings of Beethoven's only opera--Bernstein's recording is almost comically misguided, Solti's conception was good but neither Behrens nor Hoffmann could live up to the demands he creates, Jessye Norman is a superb, dignified but largely ineffective Leonore thanks to the various failures of the other soloists on Haitink's reading (with the notable exception of Kurt Moll...where would German bass singing be now without Kurt Moll?). On this new set, Barenboim has an acceptable grasp on the score--one can only imagine what a Carlos Kleiber or Valery Gergiev could do with this score in the recording studio. Frankly, Placido Domingo continues to astound me. As Florestan, there are some small signs that the voice is aging, but the tone is still beautiful and in wonderfully pristine technical control. Bravo! Despite her decent contribution to Domingo's earlier "Samson et Dalila," Waltraud Meier here is imprecise and exasperating. It is a pity that a singer with such obviously prodigious dramatic intentions could not have been granted a voice of more appropriate proportions. "Abscheulicher" is a vocal grasp at a straw entirely out of her reach. The voice is coming apart at the seams. Only through Domingo's committment and dedication is the "namenlose Freude" duet saved. All in all, this is a set for every individual who feels that the most important contributions to "Fidelio" are those of Florestan. As Beethoven seemingly did not feel thus, perhaps this is best left to Domingo's already impressive discography of diverse roles."