Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Wagner, Bailey, Solti|
Wagner: The Flying Dutchman/Der Fliegende Hollander
The Flying Dutchman is one of the most accessible of Wagner's works, and though it is the first of his operas that earned a permanent place in the repertory, it still possesses many aspects of conventional operatic practic... more »
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The Flying Dutchman is one of the most accessible of Wagner's works, and though it is the first of his operas that earned a permanent place in the repertory, it still possesses many aspects of conventional operatic practice, as well as a Weberian leitmotiv structure much simpler than that exhibited in Wagner's music after Tristan. Surprisingly, despite its accessibility, recordings of the work that are not deficient on technical or vocal or musical grounds seem to be in comparatively short supply. An exception is this classic CSO-Solti effort dating from the late '70s, where the sound is reasonably up to date, and the casting ranges from good to excellent. Of all recordings of this Wagnerian milestone, Solti's interpertation of this score still seems most authoritative. --Christian C. Rix
A Solid Recording of a Great Opera
Timothy Kearney | Hull, MA United States | 07/02/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"In the 1950's and 60's, there were a number of books that were published about opera in general. The books were readily available at the Boston Public Library, and I found them of great value when I first began collecting recordings. One of the sources (I do not recall which) suggested HOLLANDER as a good first Wagner opera. The reason why HOLLANDER was a good beginning opera is that it is a precursor of the style Wagner would later perfect in works such as TRISTAN UN ISOLDE and The Ring. So it would serve as an introduction. It also had recognizable arias and chorus like that of Italian opera, so the novice Wagnerian would not be too frightened of the composers more serious fare. Well, I took the advice and HOLLANDER was my first official Wagnerian opera. I did not find it all that similar to Italian opera, but I did grow to love the work on its own terms and it did lead me to a love of Wagner's other masterpieces.This particular set was a good first choice, due in no small part to its conductor Sir George Solti. Solti's contributions to both the symphonic and operatic repertoire are legendary, and in this set he is conducting his beloved Chicago Symphony Orchestra. What shines most in this recording is the orchestra. Wagner's works need a conductor who can produce a large powerful sound one moment and beautiful softer tones the next. Solti more than manages to handle the orchestra. Beginning with the powerful overture and continuing throughout the recording, Solti has full command of the orchestra. The Chicago Symphony Chorus under the direction of longtime collaborator Margaret Hillis handles the choral parts with technical skill and vocal beauty. The principal singers in the work: Norman Bailey as the Dutchman, Rene Kollo as Erik, and Janis Martin as Senta are not the greatest interpreters of these roles, yet each does a reasonably good job in their respective roles. Kollo does seem a bit weak at times, but the role of Erik is not one of Wagner's greatest tenor roles.If you are a fan of the golden days of Wagner, this recording is probably not for you. The principals are not the quality of a George London, Kirtsen Flagstad or Lauritz Melchoir. Still, this is a solid recording of the work and one that does, serve as an excellent introduction to the works of Wagner."
Very good introduction to Wagner's first "big" opera
J. H. Gaulard | London United Kingdom | 01/19/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I am quite surprised by the fact that this set never got more reviews than it did on Amazon: the only one applies to the non-remastered version of the performance. I remember learning my Wagner with this performance a good twenty years ago now and I was quite worried about purchasing the set again with "the new sound" and do a trip back down memory lane...in most cases, one is disappointed by the results but hopefully not here. The second the Chicago Symphony Orchestra starts with the opening chords of the piece, you are caught in the eye of the storm: the tempest, the fear, the waves jumping at your speakers, it's all in there. The dynamics are ENORMOUS, Solti relishes in letting the sound of this beautiful orchestra spread in all the sound space. Overall the fantastic orchestral display I remembered from my youth was here ...and more, thanks to a remastering of the original tapes making the performance even clearer than it was. But Fliegende is not all about being loud. Solti has a very good sense of contrasts and can let its orchestra breathe: listen to the clarinets in the Eric-Senta duet in Act II: simply beautiful.
Was the cast up to the really good memories of my youth? Well yes and no!
Norman Bailey, brilliant British heldenbass, is not at ease as the Hollander here. His initial monologue is buried under Solti's thankless orchestra, his German is not well articulated and his high notes clearly come from the throat...His duet with Senta in Act II is nonetheless very good and his portrayal remains acceptable. Talvela is very lazy in this recording and the Finnish bass simply turns up with his marvellous voice without trying anything. His sound remains sumptuous though!
The rest of the cast is really good: Rene Kollo portrays a youthful, noble Erik, Janis Martin is simply put an amazing Senta. She inhabits the part with her beautiful, crystal-clear voice and her portrayal of Senta is still, twenty years after and a lot of Wagner down the road, one of the best I have heard. Krenn is an elegant Mozartian pilot and Isola Jones does the job as Mary, no more no less. The Chicago Symphony Chorus is a bit stale though and doesn't really hold its rank opposite such a demonic orchestra. Regardless of these minor flaws, this Fliegende represents a perfect introduction to the piece thanks to its Senta, Sir Georg and his fabulous orchestra. Recommended.