Aureole etc.




Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line




Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett


 REVIEW

Some items
to consider


New App by the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra for iOS and Android!

Schumann Symphonies Rattle


Complete Brahms
Bargain price

 

alternatively
CD: Crotchet


Johann STRAUSS II (1825 - 1899)
Die Fledermaus (1874)
Werner Hollweg (tenor) - Gabriel von Eisenstein; Edita Gruberova (soprano) - Rosalinde; Christian Boesch (baritone) - Frank; Marjana Lipovšek (mezzo) - Prince Orlofsky; Josef Protschka (tenor) - Alfred; Anton Scharinger (baritone) - Dr. Falke; Waldemar Kmentt (tenor) - Dr. Blind; Barbara Bonney (soprano) - Adele; Elisabeth von Magnus (soprano) - Ida; André Heller (speaking part) - Frosch; Chorus of De Nederlandse Opera, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra/Nikolaus Harnoncourt
rec. Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, June 1987
The libretto can be found at the Karadar website.
WARNER TELDEC 2564 69125-6 [56:39 + 49:20]
Experience Classicsonline

We saw Nikolaus Harnoncourt some years ago on TV conducting the traditional New Year’s Concert from Musikverein in Vienna. He did it with obvious relish.

Not having heard this particular recording of Die Fledermaus I was looking forward to a scintillating but perhaps ‘different’ performance of this the most bubbling of operettas. I was proved right: it is different. However, bubbling it definitely doesn’t become until the final pages of act II, which is the right place to feel bubbly after so much champagne. In a good performance one should feel the party atmosphere in the overture - that brilliantly concocted brew of all the score’s finest ingredients. The Concertgebouw - recent voted the best orchestra in the world in a leading music magazine - play superbly, but the magic is missing. This is music that should float at least a couple of inches above the floor; here it is pedestrian. Harnoncourt’s penchant for slow tempos is the prime reason. He misses the Viennese lilt. Go to Fricsay or Krauss for the real thing - though their recordings are around sixty years old - or, if you can find it, Josef Krips’ old LP on Concert Hall. This latter is a programme of orchestral pieces by Strauss.

Quirky tempos are occasionally a problem in the performance proper, where Alfred’s opening off-stage serenade is heavy and pompous. Rosalinde’s czardas Klänge der Heimat is viscous and long-winded but it is also different for another reason, since it includes some extra bars. Harnoncourt has striven to make this the most musically complete version and inserts some solo contributions in the servants’ chorus at the beginning of act II where, after the Brüderlein and Duidu episodes the complete ballet music (11b in the score) is played. It is infectious music with Hungarian flavour and no-one can complain of the vigour and commitment in Harnoncourt’s conducting. This is all to the good. Less so is the decision to omit the spoken dialogue. Clemens Krauss did so back in 1950 and Karl Böhm again in the early 1970s. Both recordings were on Decca and both have claims to be among the best sung and - especially in the case of Krauss - conducted. But the story, which is rather muddled anyway, becomes more or less incomprehensible. Teldec have tried to solve this by engaging Frosch, the gaoler who normally appears in act III in various stages of insobriety, depending on the director’s wishes. Here he pops in - and perfectly sober too! - the first time after Adele has read the letter from her sister at the beginning of act I. André Heller has written Frosch’s texts himself. He is a splendid actor but I would still prefer the original dialogue. For those who are not fluent in German this solution is impractical and the libretto, to which there is a link in the header, is of no help since it is not directly related to this recording. It is a standard libretto with one version of the spoken dialogue included. There are many such versions and every recording I have has its own variant. Moreover the libretto is in German only. There are no translations.

The generous acoustics of the Concertgebouw give the recording a larger-than-life feeling. When Harnoncourt has the orchestra playing at full throttle the sound becomes almost overwhelming. But there is mostly good balance between pit and stage as it is between the admirable chorus and the singers.

The cast is a mix of Central European singers of various ages. The veteran is Waldemar Kmentt, who has recently turned 80 and consequently was in his late 50s when the recording was made. He has recorded - not least operetta - since the 1950s. His Fledermaus credentials are impressive. In 1960 he was Eisenstein for Karajan - the famous Decca recording with the star-studded Gala Performance. Twelve years later he was Alfred for Böhm and then another fifteen years later he was Blind, the stuttering lawyer. His incisive tenor is as characteristic here as on the previous recordings. Werner Hollweg, who here is Eisenstein, was also past fifty at the time. His lyric tenor has darkened and hardened a bit, so the two sound very much alike in their first act duet, where Hollweg is relentlessly singing at forte. He is much more flexible further on and is almost in the Gedda class. The third tenor, Josef Protschka, is a basically mellifluous Alfred, not quite in a Dermota (Krauss) or Dallapozza (Boskovsky) but fine anyway. The little recorded Christian Boesch is a good, slightly anonymous, Frank, while Anton Scharinger, early in his career, can be both honeyed and boisterous as Falke. Fischer-Dieskau (Boskovsky) is unsurpassed in the role but Scharinger is not too far behind.

I am afraid Edita Gruberova, normally a great favourite of mine, is slightly below her best as Rosalinde. She does many good things but she is sometimes strained and I have a feeling that she isn’t quite comfortable with the role. Güden, Schwarzkopf, even Rothenberger are far preferable. Barbara Bonney, on the other hand, who actually is American but has spent much of her career in Europe, is an Adele to challenge Rita Streich: fresh and sparkling as good champagne should always be. She is probably the best reason for getting this recording, though Marjana Lipovšek’s Orlofsky is also a superb interpretation - almost on a par with Brigitte Fassbaender (Boskovsky).

As a whole this version is not one of my real favourites, due to the drawbacks I have described above, but it has still several good things on offer. Fricsay, Krauss, Karajan I and Boskovsky are my preferred versions, but the first three are in mono. Those who must have more modern sound should try Carlos Kleiber or Karajan II or even give Harnoncourt a chance.

Göran Forsling

 


Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on
Musicweb


Donate and get a free CD

New Releases

Naxos Classical

Hyperion

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
Alto
Arcodiva
Atoll
CDAccord
Cameo Classics
Centaur
Hallé
Hortus
Lyrita
Nimbus
Northern Flowers
Redcliffe
Sheva
Talent
Toccata Classics


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing
sample
 


EXPLORE MUSICWEB INTERNATIONAL

Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews

 

Discographies
   Composer
      Composer surveys
   National
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
.
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

Interviews
With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site

Nostalgia

Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Comment
Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure

Announcements

 

Community
Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Reviewers
Pat and present

Helpers invited!

Resources
How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips


Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Publishers
Other links
Newsgroups
Web News sites etc

PotPourri
A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Questionnaire    
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Dictionary
Magazines
Newsfeed  
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools




Return to Review 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.