The hardest-hitting Don
Theodore Shulman | NYC | 04/17/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is still the most powerful performance of Don G available, with Furtwangler's Wagnerian brass, mass, and drama, Tito Gobbi's mostly scornful-and-snarling but still absorbingly multi-timbred and melodic Don (which is a role for a midrange baritone, not any kind of bass), Ljuba Welitsch's furious, piercing, and on-pitch Donna Anna, and Josef Greindl's inexorable, jagged Commendatore. Steel-reenforced concrete rather than marble.
Some sense of Mozart's lightness gets restored by Irmgard Seefried, in one of the earlier of her ten million performances of her role, and by legendary funnyman Erich Kunz, who would probably sing contratenor if he were training today.
Eliz Schwarzkopf is nice if you're not allergic to cats. Alfred Poell is suitably unnoticable as Masetto. The biggest problem is a bumbling incompetent keyboard-player who screws up the accompaniment in so many recitatives that he very sadly makes it impossible to recommend this performance to anyone who doesn't already know the piece. Other performance errors range from amusing--Tito Gobbi jumps out and bellows "Ei he ha he, sei morto!" at Leporello and Donna Elvira at the wrong time and gets ignored--to pathetic--Anton Dermota takes unauthorized breaths in the long phrases of "Il mio Tesoro". The recording quality is problematic too. But the ensembles are pretty much error-free the overall power of the performance is so great that these complaints don't matter."