Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Richard [Classical] Wagner, Karl Böhm, Bayreuth Festival Orchestra|
Wagner: Der fliegende Holländer
STEWART/BOHM 2 CD SET
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STEWART/BOHM 2 CD SET
A first-rate live Dutchman from 1971
Santa Fe Listener | Santa Fe, NM USA | 09/23/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Although there are stretches of immature writing, The Flying Dutchman has held the stage almost since its inception because of the taut story, intense emotions, and flashes of genius on Wagner's part. All of that is splendidly captured in this live performance from Bayreuth in 1971. Karl Bohm displays expert command of dramatic pacing, and the sonics (from Radio Bavaria, I believe) are clear. Bohm thumps too hard in the final scene and goes slack in Senta's Ballad, yet on the whole he justifies his reputation as an opera pit meastro.
But this set's greatest virtues are the two leads. Thomas Stewart's reputation has been revived after a period of some neglect. He had the most distinguished Bayreuth career of any American, and I've long admired his Wotan for Karajan in Die Walkure (DG) and on a slightly lower level, his virile Hans Sachs for Kubelik (on several labels, including Myto). Here he makes for an acute, intelligent Dutchman with a splendidly focused bass-baritone in place of the all too prevalent woly bass. Stewart isn't the last word in suffering or haunted inwardness, but he far surpasses Theo Adam in Klemperer's otherwise glorious version (EMI) and sounds more suitably Germanic than Jose Van Dam for Karajan (EMI).
Stewart is paired with the young Gwyneth Jones as Senta, and I msut say she sounds utterly convincing. The voice, forceful but feminine, was in prime shape in 1971, and her dramatic instincts (always Jonnes's strength even after her voice frayed) hold your attentin from beginning to end (I dont hold it against her that Bohm loses impetus in the Ballad). Sheerly as a dramatic singing cast, this one is hard to beat. Karl Ridderbusch adds considerably as an authoritative Deland who doesn't bluster or mug.
All in all, I have no hesitation placing this budget reissue near the top of my list for this opera."
Disappointing; other recordings far surpass this
Ralph Moore | Bishop's Stortford, UK | 03/25/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I am a great fan of the recently deceased Thomas Stewart, which is why I bought this recording; I think his Wotan for Karajan and his Sachs for Kubelik are true monuments to his lovely voice and interpretative skills, but this "Hollaender" simply does not hit the spot. I wondered why I was not previously aware of it and having played it, I can see why it is somewhat disregarded compared with other, classic accounts such as the live 1955 Bayreuth recording conducted by Keilberth. Sure, with Keilberth, you have to put up with relatively congested mono sound but the intensity of the drama of the piece really emerges vividly when you have the voices and acting skills of two such performers as Uhde (who died prematurely) and Varnay. Stewart never really gets under the skin of the tormented Dutchman and barely hits his stride vocally - maybe Bohm's rather rushed conducting harried him. As for Gwyneth Jones, that infamous wobble seems to be more prominent here than it is in her superlative Ortrud in Kubelik's studio "Lohengrin", recorded around the same time as this live performance; it is too obtrusive to allow me to admire her customary commitment to characterisation. Ridderbusch is his usual smooth, rotund self (the voice, not the man), Harald Ek as the Steersman is very good, displaying a fine, robust voice and really differentiating amongst the three verses of his ballad before succumbing to sleep - but a tenor called Hermin Esser, the Erik, is truly awful. As a whole, it's by no means a bad performance but not worth purchasing when, if you want stereo, you can hear either the splendid London and Rysanek in Dorati's 1961 set or Karajan's later version with the noble, intense Van Dam, the best Daland in Kurt Moll and Vejzovic by no means negligible as Senta. (I personally do not rate Theo Adam's Dutchman in Klemperer's EMI set, but others seem to like it very much; for me, he hasn't enough voice.)
So I reluctantly give this the thumbs down - I wanted to like it - and would steer you towards any of the other three sets I mention above."
Great Bargain, Good Performance
Steven Muni | Sutter Creek, CA USA | 04/09/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"There are many wonderful versions of Wagner's Flying Dutchman available, and the competition is pretty strong. This recording is an excellent memorial to the late baritone Thomas Stewart, an American who performed primarily in Europe, being a long-time member of the Staatsoper in Berlin.
Although he may not have the instrument of some well-known Dutchmen like George London or Simon Estes, Stewart is an excellent singing actor and clearly portrays the loneliness and anguish of the title character. But he has to face tough competition, including the wrenching pain of Hermann Uhde or the gritty realism of Theo Adams, not to mention the sumptous voices of London or Estes.
His Senta is Dame Gwyneth Jones, a great English dramatic soprano of the 60s and 70s. Jones is in good but not great form here--plenty of emotion and her famous vocal wobble only a little in evidence. Again, she is up against some tough competition, like the incredible Leonie Rysanek or the ferociously dramatic Astrid Varnay or the searingly passionate Anja Silja, perhaps the best Senta of them all.
Karl Ridderbusch sings an excellent Daland, and the smaller roles are adequate if not memorable. Kubelik paces the orchestra well in this live 1971 performance at Bayreuth.
My personal favorite studio recording is the Klemperer version, with Adam and Silja. Adam is not everyone's favorite Dutchman, but I like the grainy texture of his voice in this role. And Silja is, I think, the finest recorded Senta. My favorite live recording is the 1955 Bayreuth performance conducted by Joseph Keilberth, (a badly under-appreciated Wagnerian conductor), and starring Hermann Uhde and Astrid Varnay. Despite the sometimes mushy mono sound, Uhde's and Varnay's performances simply haven't been surpassed for their intensity. But this version is quite good and for the price you can't beat it."