John Cragg | Delta(greater Vancouver), B.C Canada | 04/25/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a straightforward rendering of Wagner's Opera. Though none of the singers is very well known, with one exception all do very well. (The exception is Erich Knodt, singing the rather unsympathetic part of Daland, who is at times a bit muddy.) Some of the singing is indeed very distinguished, especially the tenor Peter Seiffert in the role of Erik, the well-meaning and unexciting (boring) individual who loses the girl to a romantic obsession. That role is sung by Ingrid Haubold with just enough of an edge to convince one that she is genuinely unbalanced - as the heroine of this piece really has to be. Major in this opera - as in much of Wagner - is the orchestra and the chorus. Both are fine, with the orchestra having just the right amount of bite to highlight the mood swings that dominate the opera and the always-present dangers of an angry ocean. Pinchas Steinberg leads a straightforward, taut reading of the work. He keeps things moving nicely and well defined, only losing the coherent approach slightly at the end of the second act. The "studio" recording is fine, though at times the voices seem a bit remote. The only weakness of the whole is the booklet that includes the libretto in German, but without translation. This is balanced by an unusually complete synopsis well keyed to the track index, but for Wagner especially there are always times when one wants to know exactly what the words mean, and for that one would have to look elsewhere. Overall this is a very good recording, which would merit consideration even at full price. At Naxos's bargain rates, it is well worth getting-as the first set if you are not much of a Wagner fan, and as an additional one if you are addicted to Wagner."
Caveat Emptor: No English-Translation Libretto!
D. Nix | 07/21/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Generally, I've been impressed with the budget opera sets released by Naxos. And a few of them have even earned multiple awards from various professional reviewers; namely, Wagner's The Flying Duchman (Steinburg, ORF Symphony Orchestra), Rossini's The Barber of Seville (Humburg, Failoni Chamber Orchestra), Rossini's Tancredi (Zedda, Collegium Instrumentale Brugense), Mozart's The Magic Flute (Halasz, Failoni Orchestra), Beethoven's Fidelio (Halasz, Nicolaus Esterhazy Sinfonia), and Debussy's Pelleas Et Melisande (Casadesus, Orchestre National de Lille Region). Verdi's Requiem (Morandi, Hungarian State Opera Chorus and Orchestra), though not quite opera, but certainly operatic, also has earned multiple awards. While there are no superstar singers on these sets, nor superstar conductors, the singing and the conducting are excellent, and so is the modern recorded sound. These opera sets are many steps above those released by other budget labels, most of which contain old, decrepit recordings.Even so, I'm disappointed with the lack of english translations in the librettos. Mind you, the booklets enclosed with the Naxos sets are better than the thin leaflets enclosed in most budget sets, since the Naxos booklets have fully detailed synopsis -- in english, too! -- that are keyed to each and every track on the CD's. This greatly aids you in following along with the storyline and music. But the lyrics, which are just as important, are only given in the language that the opera was originally sung; i.e., Itallian, German, or French. (Exception: Verdi's Requiem has full english translations.)Too bad. Myself, I'd pay and extra dollar or two for these Naxos sets if they had librettos with full english translations.For the Naxos opera sets listed above, I'd give them 4 or 5 stars, based on their fabulous performances, conducting, and sound quality -- but without librettos fully translated in english, I give them only 3 stars. (All except for Verdi's Requiem, listed above, which earns a glorious 5 stars!)"
Good bargain choice
L. E. Cantrell | Vancouver, British Columbia Canada | 01/09/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you absolutely must have a digital-era recording of Wagner's "Der fliegende Hollaender," if you cannot abide what reviewer "azlan1000" dismisses as the "old, decrepit recordings" found on other budget labels, then this bargain "Dutchman" is a pretty good choice. It is well-recorded, reasonably conducted and competently sung throughout. On the whole it does justice to the composer, and at a very attractive price.
Now, about those old, decrepit recordings...
They are unquestionably not new, granted, and they usually provide less sonic spaciousness and diamond-like clarity than modern digital recordings, also granted. Why, many of them, doubtless originally scratched on rocks with tools of stone, are not even in stereo. But some offer a thing not so easily found in many newer recordings: sheer blazing genius!
Oh, indeed, there are many admirable singers and conductors today, but how many will demand the attention of opera fans twenty, fifty or even seventy years hence, as the denizens of some of those old, decrepit recordings do now? Are there any Furtwaenglers or Toscaninis now, or even lesser talents like Karajan? Perhaps, but I wouldn't care to lay a bet on who they are. Nor do I hear of any new Flagstads, Schorrs or Hotters lurking around present day opera houses.
Purchase, if you will, this version of "Der fliegender Hollaender." It's a perfectly sound buy in good digital sound.
But then take some time to listen, really listen to one of those old, decrepit opera recordings.
You might just be amazed."
David Saemann | 03/17/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a very fine Dutchman. Pinchas Steinberg leads a performance that is beautifully and sensitively articulated, and scrupulously rehearsed. His orchestra may not be in the same category as Bayreuth's, but they play with a full tone and good discipline. The chorus is absolutely outstanding, a crucial factor in this opera. I have never heard better choral work anywhere. The cast generally has light, appealing voices--but loud enough to pierce through the orchestra. Alfred Muff's Dutchman is especially attractive, a very patrician, noble reading. The sound engineering is clear and well balanced, with digital sound a definite plus for an opera with such a wide dynamic range. Unless you demand Wagner with the degree of tension provided by a Toscanini or a Solti, this is very recommendable."