"This is one of the greatest operatic recordings ever made. It captures a wonderful Vienniese spirit missing from all other recordings. Maria Reining as the Marschallin is past her best (to make up for it get the Lehmann excerpts) but still knowng and charming. The rest of the cast is unbeatable; Sena Jurinac, Hilde Gueden in their young primes and Ludwig Weber is a black voiced aristocratic Ochs. Smaller roles are filled with regulars from the Vienna State Opera. Erich Kleiber's conducting is exactly right; the right amounts of sentiment and spirit. The mono sound is warm and full. If you ever thought Rosenkavalier could be boring, buy this set. The time flies by and you'll feel great afterwards."
GOLDEN AGE RECORDING OF ONE OF STRAUSS' MASTERPIECES!
Ygor | Brazil | 04/11/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"After the heavy and extroverted music of Salome and Elektra, Richard Strauss, whom I consider one of the five greatest Opera composers ever, turned to a more delicate and viennese kind of music. From all the masterpieces with such characteristics he composed, Der Rosenkavalier is definitely the most perfect example of Strauss' talent. It has a wonderful, involving music, altogether with some incredibly tangible characters and profound drama. It alternates harmoniously moments of humor based on the Viennese Operettas and moments of pure reflection and depth. But, above all, this music is all about vividness, sincerity. The singers must not only sing beautifully. They also need to live the characters they're performing. Here we have a Golden Age recording of Der Rosenkavalier, and it offers everything this opera requires to charm the listener. Certainly Maria Reining isn't in her best prime anymore, and in fact her voice doesn't sound as velvety as Schwarzkopf's or as youthful as Della Casa's. On the other hand, it's impossible to resist to the creamy and sincere quality of her mature voice, to the controlled and beautiful use of portamento and to the noblety and refinement of her interpretation. Maria Reining, who had had a successful career since the early 30's, takes us back to the elegant tradition of singing from the times Strauss was still composing some of his most famous operas. Sena Jurinac sings an elegant and lively Oktavian. While her voice isn't as masculine as one would have from heavier mezzos, it's velvety and versatile and her characterization of the young gentleman is one of the most credible ever recorded. Hilde Gueden, who's maybe the greatest Straussian lyric coloratura soprano, is a flirtatious and charming Sophie. Her interpretations are always lively and involved in a dream-like Viennese atmosphere. Besides, her voice is ideal to this role. Its creamy and rich sound, girlishness and perfect technique are simply irresistible. In overall, each one of those legendary sopranos managed to understand the real meaning of those deep characters. The result is that, as we listen to this recording, it seems as we get to know real people's feelings in real situations (and that's exciting!). Other great performances are Ludwig Weber's caricatural Baron Ochs, Anton Dermota's flawlessly sung Italian Tenor and Alfred Poell's adequately aristocratic Faninal. So why should you buy this recording? Surely there are other versions which are more hyped, but, among all the other famous recordings, the only one that can rivalize with this one is Schwarzkopf's classic recording conducted by Karajan (EMI). However, even that recording couldn't inspire the vivid emotion and pure excitement the way this legendary version did. Renée Fleming sings one of the most stunning Marschallins ever, but unfortunately she didn't record any complete studio recording. The sound is quite good even by current standards (and it was recorded in 1954!) and the whole atmosphere is amazing. Don't lose the chance of listening to truly legendary Straussian singing!"
A beloved classic showing its age
Santa Fe Listener | Santa Fe, NM USA | 10/01/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This was the first Rosenkavalier I ever heard, some forty years ago, and I must have gone to the library ten times to listen through earphones to it. But on reacquaintance I must say that the mono sound is more than a bit edgy and shallow. When reviewers say that Maria Reining is past her prime, I think it should be clarified; her voice is mature but still beautiful--she's a Marschallin well into her forties. Of course, if you love something, you love it as a whole. On the whole I still love Kleiber's conducting, which is so clear and unsentimental (insofar as that's possible amidst so much strawberries and cream), and even more I love the touching reminder of old vienna before the horrors of WW II descended and destroyed a golden illusion."
Marvelous Rosenkavalier...a truly Viennese Feast!
The Cultural Observer | 06/25/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Of all the recordings of Rosenkavalier on the market, this is perhaps the truest to Strauss' intentions. Notwithstanding the fact that it has no cuts, the spirit of Strauss' mastery of Hoffmansthal-like dialogue is eminent in this recording. It also stars great singers like Maria Reining, Sena Jurinac, Hilde Gueden, Ludwig Weber, and Anton Dermota, singers who are true to the Viennese tradition and periodicity of this masterpiece. It must be said though, that the greatest contributions stems from the conductor and the orchestra. The Vienna Philharmonic is the only orchestra in the world I know that can play this piece with their eyes closed. Never mind the ravishing Berliners or the crystalline Dresdeners. Never mind the Concertgebouw or the Bavarian Radio Symphony. In the music of Strauss and Mozart, the Vienna Philharmonic has no rival, and how amazing they truly are in Der Rosenkavalier. With that said, Erich Kleiber leads a most authentic and spiritful account of the score. It has a lightness and a beauty that you can describe as an Imperial Torte, a Sachertorte, Kastanientorte, or a Mozartkügel with lots of Schlagober (Viennese for whipped cream) on the side. It's elegant. It's light, comedic, yet understated. It also has pathos and energy. If you're looking for the Viennese echt sound in a recording of the opera, this is the recording you should set your sights on.
The cast is magnificent too. Maria Reining may be an older Marschallin, but listen to how she phrases the lines of her character. This is truly the mark of an aristocratic woman. Her Act I monologue is sung with pathos without the artificiality that mars Schwarzkopf's performance. Her Marschallin is sung with a reactive, conversational precision that makes the character all the more palpable. I think she successfully brings out the nobility and wisdom in a woman who most sopranos would interpret as more proud than human. Sena Jurinac sings the title role, and what a great change of pace it is to hear a soprano in a role that was written for this role. Jurinac phrases Octavian's lines with his two lovers word for word and with feeling. I would say that she betters Christa Ludwig in this role due to the natural lift of her voice. It is boyish, but not immature. A very handsome portrayal of Count Rofrano. Sophie is taken by the cute-sounding Hilde Gueden. I think her ravishing voice makes this role one of the best I've heard with Helen Donath, Annaliese Rothenberger, and Lucia Popp. A work of a true artist indeed. Ludwig Weber sings Ochs accurately and with humor, avoiding all the buffoonery that makes this character a laughing stock rather than a despicable baron. Anton Dermota is luxuriously cast as the Italian tenor. I will always prefer Pavarotti, but his tenor is good as it is.
To sum up, this is a great recording of a perennial Strauss favorite. I still love the Solti cast for the great pacing and the spirited and well-assembled cast, but this is a great reference recording for anyone who wants to learn more about Strauss' most beautiful masterpiece."