One of the most grown-up review sites around
One of the most grown-up review sites around

Search MusicWeb Here


International mailing

Up to 40% off

  Founder: Len Mullenger


Crotchet   AmazonUK   AmazonUS

Heinrich August MARSCHNER (1795-1861)
Der Vampyr (1827)
Romantic opera in two acts
Martin Engel (bar) ... Sir Humphrey Davenaut; Carol Farley (mezzo) ... Malwin; Josef Protschka ( ten) ... Edgar Aubry; Siegmund Nimsgern (bar) ... Lord Ruthven; Wolfgang Lenz (bass) ... Sir Berkley; Galina Pisarenko (sop) ... Janthe
Chorus and Orchestra Sinfonica of Radio Italiana/Günter Neuhold
Live recording at the Auditorio del Foro Italico, Rome, Italy, 26 January 1980
HOMMAGE 7001834-HOM [64:14 + 66:43]


It is only once in a while one comes across a genuine bargain in the shape of a good work, slightly known and the only recording available. At a sale in a large HMV music store this two CD set (along with others) priced at £9 has been offered for sale at a mere £3 - similarly on Amazon.

Marschnerís The Vampyr may be remembered from the excellent BBC TV production in 1992 and issued on Virgin VC 759 294-2. In that experimental production, sumptuously recorded by the way (by the BBC Philharmonic, Manchester, England), the Janet Street Porter production had brought the libretto up to date and the Vampyr character passed off as a city tycoon, Ripley. At the time nothing was known about any BBC modification of the score and so sight of this original German recording was greeted with interest.

Marschner wrote The Vampyr in 1827. It was the first of his operas to win him recognition. The libretto had its beginnings in a book by Polidoriís The Vampyr, published eight years earlier. For such a plot to be composed as a romantic opera sounds unusual, but the music is exactly that ó melodious and yet fitting.

So what of this production, taken live at a performance in Italy, sung and spoken in German?

The cast are all strong and the orchestra plays well through both acts. I have reservations about the overture: it is stodgy, lacks flow and seems to be short of emotional feeling. The acoustic, particularly in the overture, is slightly boxy and at times sections of the orchestra are somewhat unbalanced for a recording made in the 1980s. This kind of difficulty shouldnít have been a problem. After the overture, the orchestra and conductor warm up considerably and there is some excellent material to listen to. The boxiness also seems to disappear. Could it be my conditioning to the acoustic or were adjustments made?

So with such a good recording, why so cheap? Is there a catch? Well yes, the problem lies with the booklet. This contains the libretto (in German and Italian only) and lacks any mention of the composer, or work or date. The libretto items are numbered as Marschnerís score but these do not relate to track numbers. Extraordinarily, there is no track-listing when there are two blank pages to be found at the back and there are 11/12 tracks on the discs.

After careful scrutiny I find that the libretto only gives Act I. Providing track details would have given the game away. English reading listeners would not persevere with following the libretto it seems. However, since there are many budget releases that have only a four page leaflet, this 36 page booklet looks respectable and the whole still represents a considerable bargain.

Raymond Walker

Note received

I have had this recording (with the same cover etc) for some years now (it cost me around three Euro); your strictures about missing track list & no English translation apply to my booklets too - but there are two booklets, the second containing the libretto of the second act, and both contain a cast list with mentions of the composer, reviser (Pfitzner), libretto author and date of performance.

Martin Walker

Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on

Donate and get a free CD


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
(THE Polish label)
Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

Return to Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.