Search - Ludwig van Beethoven, Erich Kleiber, Leonard Bernstein :: Beethoven: Fidelio

Beethoven: Fidelio
Ludwig van Beethoven, Erich Kleiber, Leonard Bernstein
Beethoven: Fidelio
Genre: Classical
 
  •  Track Listings (14) - Disc #1
  •  Track Listings (14) - Disc #2


      
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A superb performance.
02/24/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I must say. This is a wonderful live performance. It has an electricity which is missing in most studio versions. Birgit Nilsson here is far superior to her performance for Maazel (Decca). Her voice is warm and intense here whereas she is steely and frigid in Maazel. Birgit Nilsson here is far superior to Janowitz in Bernstein's later version. Janowitz's lyrical soprano sound too anemic - it lacks power. You don't get any kick out of listening too Janowitz. Yes, her voice is pure and beautiful. She sings with commitment and feeling. The problem is that this is FIDELIO. you don't just want to hear beautiful emotions and feeling, you want a DRAMATIC SOPRANO to pin you back in your seat!!!!!! Nilsson's legendary voice has the power of a nuclear plant. She does exactly that. When she hits those top notes, you are literally blown away. Ludovic as Florestan is also superior to Rene Kollo. Ludovic sounds far more at his wits end than Kollo and Ludovic's voice has more power. There is far more intensity and emotion here. Helen Donath is wonderful as Marzelline. Lucia Popp may sing more beautifully, but I think Helen Donath sings with greater intensity and soul. You kind of feel what she is thinking. Here it's a close call between Lucia Popp and Helen Donath. Theo Adam as Don Pizarro is far superior to Hans Sotin for Bernstein(DG). Theo Adam has more venom and intensity. The other singers too sing with an intensity which is not found in Bernstein's more popular 1978 DG version. The only drawback is the recorded sound is not too good. It is a live performance. And some details are lost in the recording. But what is lost in detail is made up for by the intensity of the singers. I give 5 stars for the performance. The recorded sound should be 3 stars. Ultimately, the best version is still Klemperer (EMI) in which Christa Ludwig intensity blows every other recorded Leonore away - the power of a dramatic soprano mixed with raw emotion and intensity. But this Bernstein is certainly an outstanding performance with the kind of soul and intensity seldom found in studio recordings. The Klemperer, of course, is the exception that proves the rule.If you are planning on Bernstein, I think this version would satisfy you more than his version for Deutsche Grammophon(DG). And it's far cheaper too. Yes, you sacrifice clarity, but ultimately, you want a Leonore to pin you back to your seat and you want singers with raw emotion and intensity. This version of Bernstein's Fidelio is like being involved in an action movie, the thrill is there but in the process, some details become fuzzy. Bernstein's later DG version is like reading a book. Everything is more or less crystal clear. But you lose some of the thrill of being in the action. Finally, there are some bonus tracks in this CD set - some performance from a live recording of Fidelio by Erich Kleiber in 1956, with Birgit Nilsson again. It is interesting to see how Nilsson has developed between 1956 and 1970.Remember: in classical music, cheaper does not imply inferior. Don't discount this version. Enjoy this superb performance at an incredibly low price. You may enjoy it so much that you don't see a need to buy Bernstein's 1978 DG version."
Wow!!
02/21/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Good performance - less than desirable but good sound quality."
For Birgit Nilsson fans
08/22/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"If you follow Birgit Nilsson's career, she has 3 recorded Leonores1956 - Kleiber (review below)
1964 - Maazel (Decca)
1970 - Bernstein (this one)The 1956 is her best!! This version is also good but the sound is not as good as the 1956 (surprise? I think it has to do with the remastering). I guess you wouldn't be looking at this set if you weren't into historical performances so this review is specially for such people.REVIEW:I always by lesser known labels with trepidation because I can never know what kind of sound quality I will get. However, so far my experience with Koch Schwann is that they provide superb sound quality. This is the second Koch Scwhann set that I bought. Yes, this performance is in mono, but it is superb mono - the best possible with lots of space around the music. I think Och Schwann has access to the original masters because these transfers are superb. Everything is crystal clear. The mono sound quality is definitely full-price quality. Having put the question of sound quality to rest, what about the performance. Well, this is Birgit Nilsson's first recorded Leonore, and in my opinion, it is certainly her best. It is definitely better than her Maazel performance. Here she seems more involved than in the Maazel performance. Perhaps it is because she was not that famous in 1956 (her Met triumph was 1959) so it is possible that she worked harder at her characterization here and there is a palpable difference. In Maazel, she seems to lack interest in doing the part well - perhaps she was then famous and very busy doing too many roles and that affected her. Yes, I would definitely recommend this Birgit Nilsson set in mono and at full-price above the Maazel Decca set in stereo and at mid-price. Firstly, the sound quality here is superb - you needn't worry about the mono - it is superb mono. Part of the reason is that this was done specially as a radio broadcast and not from staged performances so the producers made sure that the singers are clearly heard and the orchestra well- balanced. Secondly, Kleiber's conducting is definitely superior to Maazel. Maazel (25 years old, thereabouts) was very young when he conducted the Decca set with Nilsson and his inexperience shows. On the other hand, Erich Kleiber (father of Carlos Kleiber) was a legend - witness his legendary Figaro with Decca in 1955. Unfortunately, he passed away shortly after doing this broadcast.There is another performance Birgit Nilsson as Leonore - the Rome 1970 version with Leonard Bernstein. That version is terrific but for one thing, the sound quality there is not as good. And although Birgit Nilsson with Bernstein was better than with Maazel, she is still the best down here. Yes, this is Birgit Nilsson's best Leonore. All the rest of the singers are in top form."