A delightful rarity available at last!
Dr. Boyd D. Cathey | North Carolina | 03/07/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Hans Pfitzner is known mostly for his impressive early 20th century opera, PALESTRINA, his cantata Von Deutsche Seele, and his songs. The release by Orfeo d'Or of his lighter, "Christmas" opera, DAS CHRISTELFLEIN, reveals another, very lyrical and rustic side of this composer. Those who can remember will recall that the old "private" LP label MRF once released this performance (which dates from the 1970s)in stereo in a beautifully illustrated box, complete with German/English libretto. The Orfeo release does not include a libretto, but does include a plot summary and some intereresting data about Pfitzner and the work--"the Christmas Elf." DAS CHRISTEFLEIN was written in 1917, in the middle of World War I. But the opera is anything but dark or turgid. Pfitzner has considerably lightened his orchestration here; the textures are clean and bright, even incorporating German folk tunes. At times it seems that one is listening to a HANSEL UND GRETEL sound-alike--but I actually prefer it to H & G. The vocalism is of a high order, with Helen Donath and Claes Ahjnso as standouts. The sound is very good. Highly recommended."