Dream cast but....
S Duncan | London | 10/02/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This is a real shame... Not the singing or the conducting, let me quickly add! It's just the potential here is astounding! The flaws however, lie (1) in the fact that it's a live recording (which, even though I don't like it, I could forgive); (2) the poor recording quality (there is considerable hiss and the sound is somewhat `dry' and sounds Mono...in fact, nowhere is it stated whether this is a Mono or Stereo recording); (3) there is no libretto.
I've journeyed far indeed to overlook these flaws but the fact is, the singing and conducting are wonderful. Julia Varady sends shivers of anticipation down my spine to begin with but here she goes even further. Here Donna Elvira is urgently dramatic and beautiful. Add to that a crystalline Margaret Price in peak form and the flawless Lucia Popp... dream casts like this aren't always common. Margaret Price's chest register in the second track ("Gente! Servi! Al traditore!") will certainly add a new dimension to the common perception of her already laudable vocal dramatics. How luxurious to have Kurt Moll as Il Commendatore! The boom and sonoreity of legend is well represented. The other male roles are wonderfully sung, particularly Hermann Winkler's stirring Don Ottavio. His Scene 2 exchange with Dame Price's Donna Anna is heart-wrenching and stunningly tragic in the da capo "Che giuramento, o Dei!"
Then the lead character himself: Raimondi's Don Giovanni is every bit the playboy of reckless abandon; a virile, dashing display. This was one of his defining roles and he is full of character.
I certainly haven't heard more dramatic conducting- Sawallisch's reading is more urgent than many and the sense of the drama benefits more from it...though I find that sometimes the male singers seem to lag.
I will need to purchase a clearer, more modern recording (alas without this dream cast) but I recommend this as a matter of historic value. The lead singers here are amazing.