Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line

Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett


Metronome Distribution

Otto NICOLAI (1810-1849)
Die lustigen Weiber von Windsor - excerpts
Sir John Falstaff, Kurt Moll (bass); Frau Fluth, Edith Mathis (sop); Frau Reich, Hanna Schwarz (m.sop); Anna Reich, Helen Donath (sop); Herr Fluth, Bernd Weikl (bar); Herr Reich Siegfried Vogel (bass); Fenton, Peter Schreier, (ten)
Chorus and orchestra of the Staatskapelle Berlin/Bernhard Klee
Recorded Christuskirche Studio, Berlin, 1976
Bargain Price.

This issue is very much the twin, in the same series, of Lortzing’s ‘Der Wildschütz’, reviewed elsewhere on this site. Both issues derive from complete recordings of the works by DG and are conducted with idiomatic vitality by Berhard Klee. This work, like the Lortzing, has few airings outside Germany, preference being given to Verdi’s last work, very much to the same plot, with this Windsor piece being known only by its overture.

In the right hands Nicolai’s ‘Die lustigen’ is effervescent and magically light and Klee’s conducting catches the mood to perfection. In the overture the instruments are clearly placed and the conductor’s taut, but well sprung rhythms, set the scene well with the forward open airy acoustic being welcome (tr.1). The long duet between the wives (tr. 2) shows the well matched richly toned tuneful voices of Edith Mathis and Hanna Schwarz singing to, and off, each other; both with exemplary diction. In her own recit and aria ‘Nun eilt herbei’, No.3 in the score, Mathis’s fine legato and characterization are heard to best effect (tr. 3). However, for quality of characterization Kurt Moll’s Falstaff takes some beating. His steady juicy tone and perfect diction are a delight in ‘Als Büblein’ (tr. 4) and the various ensembles. Bernd Weikl as Herr Fluth (Ford) is a worthy adversary with smooth steady tone and good characterization, whilst Anna his daughter, is sung with deliciously light tones by Helen Donath (tr. 5). As her lover, Fenton, Peter Schreier sings well whilst not erasing the memory of Wunderlich on the 1963 EMI Electrola issue.

The sparse leaflet has a brief background to the opera and a synopsis of the three acts, regrettably not track related, in English and German. For whatever reason the complete opera from which these excerpts derive is not currently available. If you like what you hear here and want the complete work, then the choice lies between two versiuons: (1) the 1963 EMI, with Frick and Wunderlich outstanding in an otherwise underpowered singing cast at mid price with libretto or (2) the later warmly recorded and better sung recording under Kubelik’s baton on a bargain priced ‘Double Decca’ with track related synopsis only.

This is a cast without weakness and with the chorus and orchestra vibrant and well conducted. It constitutes as pleasant a sixty minutes listening as I have had in a long time

Robert J Farr


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