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Leonard BERNSTEIN (1918-1990)
Candide Ė Comic Operetta in two acts (1956) [128:15]
Libretto: Lilian Hellman and Richard Wilbur based on the novel by Voltaire
Candide: Jerry Hadley (tenor); Cunegonde: Sylvia Koke (soprano); Pangloss/Martin: Thomas Gazheli (baritone); Old Lady: Marjana Lipovsek (mezzo-soprano); Governor/Vanderdendur/Ragotzky: Robert Chafin (tenor); Paguette: Robin Johannsen (soprano); Maximilian/Captain: Raimund Nolte (baritone); Barenfuhrer/Inquisitor/Tsar Ivan: Stefan Sevenich (bass); Kosmetikhandler/Inquisitor/Prince Edward: Jorg Schorner (baritone); Doctor/King Stanislaus: Carsten Sabrowski (baritone); Trodler/Inquisitor/Hermann Augustus/Croupier: Stefan Stoll (baritone); Alchemist/Chief Inquisitor/Sultan Ahmed/Crook: Thomas Scheier (tenor)
Complete recording in English with additional spoken texts in German by Loriot
Ernst Senff Choir, Berlin/Sigurd Brauns
German Symphony Orchestra/David Stahl
rec. live, Berlin Philharmonic Hall 20 March 2005. DDD
CAPRICCIO SACD 71 056 [70:13 + 58:02]


Bernsteinís operetta Candide is great fun to listen to and to watch on stage.† He wrote it following a suggestion from Lilian Hellman, basing it on Voltaireís famous book that takes a side-swipe at the political and social circumstances of the time and that questions the premise that God is good.†
 
The music is an effervescent cocktail of brilliant and memorable tunes coupled with a libretto by Lilian Hellman and Richard Wilbur and with lyrics by Richard Wilbur. There are additional words by Stephen Sondheim, among others.† The text is funny and touching by turns and can be followed in the accompanying 111 page booklet in English and German.†
 
The soloists are all excellent in this recording and the orchestra and chorus give their all in what is a very satisfying performance.† However, there is one overriding flaw that spoiled the whole experience for me.† This recording, made in a live performance in 2005 in Berlin in English, is punctuated throughout by commentary in German by Vicco von Bulow, known by his pseudonym Loriot.† This may have been appreciated by the audience and counted as part of the overall theatrical experience on that occasion but shorn of its theatrical presentation with lavish sets and costumes as well as the acting of the singers and coming through your speakers (and in surround sound if you have it) it becomes a hugely annoying interruption that shatters the flow of the music and the action.†
 
Even if you understand German I canít imagine that it adds anything to the listening experience but if you donít then it becomes almost intolerable.† There isnít even a translation of the narration in the booklet despite there being space opposite the German text.† Listening to the audience laughing in response to it only adds to the non-German speakerís frustration.† May I make a plea to Capriccio to re-release it with the narration deleted for the non-German speaking market?

Steve Arloff

 

 



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