Hugo WOLF (1860-1903)
Verborgenheit (orch. Joseph Marx) [1:38]
Er ist’s (orch. Wolf) [1:21]
Elfenlied (orch. Günter Raphael) [1:52]
Anakreons Grab (orch. Wolf) [2:55]
Mignon, 2nd version (orch. Wolf) [6:23]
Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949)
Befreit, Op. 39, No. 4 [5:28]
Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896)
Symphony No. 7 in E major (Robert Haas edition) [70:13]
Renée Fleming (soprano)
Staatskapelle Dresden/Christian Thielemann
rec. live, 1 September 2012, Semperoper, Dresden, Germany
Video Director: Henning Kasten
Picture: 1080i HD/16:9
Sound: 24/48 LPCM stereo/ dts-HD Master Audio 5.1 Surround
Region code: All Regions
Booklet includes sung German texts with English and French translations
OPUS ARTE OABD7127D
This marvellous Opus Arte release is the film of Christian Thielemann’s
inaugural concert as music director of the Staatskapelle Dresden on
1 September 2012. Filmed at their beautiful Semperoper home in Dresden
the concert was a spectacular event which included a stunning performance
of Bruckner’s Symphony No. 7.
I’m not sure how often Wolf’s Orchestral Lieder are played
in concert but to have a soprano as eminent and as popular as Renée
Fleming performing them was quite a coup for the Staatskapelle Dresden.
Of the five Wolf Lieder Verborgenheit was orchestrated by Joseph
Marx. Elfenlied is heard in an orchestration by Günter
Raphael and Er ist’s, Anakreons Grab and Mignon
are as prepared by the composer. Robed in a stunning strapless gown
the glamorous Fleming with her gracious demeanour certainly has an
appealing stage presence. Undoubtedly the creamy voice of this experienced
Indiana-born soprano has the ability to bewitch. Her smooth, fluid
tone and immaculate control is unerring as demonstrated to perfection
in the dramatic Er ist’s (Spring is here) and
the moving Anakreons Grab (Anacreon’s Grave).
I also enjoyed Elfenlied (Elf-song), such a fine vehicle
for displaying her agreeable good humour. For her encore Fleming sang
Strauss’s moving setting of Befreit (Released/Liberated).
I love the way she breathes such absorbing emotion into Dehmel’s
text. Strauss’s gloriously rich orchestration sounds magnificent;
in truth it is a substantial improvement in that respect over the
Wolf songs. Fleming couldn’t have asked for more sympathetic
The city of Dresden first experienced the music of Bruckner in 1885
with a performance of the Symphony No. 3. Towards the end of
the composer’s life the Dresden Hofkapelle, the forerunner of
the Staatskapelle, started to play Bruckner’s music. This began
a long and auspicious tradition. A pinnacle of the Austro-German symphonic
tradition Bruckner’s Symphony No. 7 premièred
in 1883 experienced less revision than most of the symphonies. Thielemann
here chooses to perform the Robert Haas edition.
Thielemann adopts his usual perceptively direct approach and this
assists in establishing a compelling sense of occasion in the Semperoper.
The interpretation however feels spacious with a natural intensity
that serves to emphasise the grandeur of the writing. Everything is
held together with complete assurance and the tempi feeling judicious
as do the astutely terraced dynamics. The deep and voluminous instruments
of the Staatskapelle, the cellos and basses, are remarkable, providing
a firm foundation for the rest of the orchestra.
In the opening movement one immediately notices the full, purposeful
sound with the splendour of the Dresden brass shining through. The
strings reveal a brilliant body. The high strings just glow with wonder
in the gloriously dignified writing of the great Adagio. Here
I am struck by the impressive sound of the four Wagner tubas. The
astonishingly powerful climax is highly moving and is followed by
that episode of deep spirituality producing a state of near stillness.
In the decidedly compelling and radiant Scherzo it is easy
to sense the freshness of verdant Alpine valleys. Thielemann intensifies
the tension and evokes the unease of an imminent storm. The Finale
feels like a contest between the reverence of the chorale and the
potency of forceful drama. Taut and organised, the Staatskapelle produce
a remarkable sound. Thielemann has such confidence in his players
that, at one point, he drops his hands and lets them continue on their
own. The applause is substantial with the majority of the audience
getting to their feet acknowledging such stunning musicianship from
a world class orchestra. Thielemann, who never looks comfortable with
all the bowing and bouquets of flowers, is called back to the podium
time and time again.
Director Henning Kasten does a splendid job with this live concert
which is impressively filmed in High Definition. The camera-work inside
the Semperoper is highly effective and beautifully shot revealing
good detail and a vivid colour palette. Kasten ensures that the foremost
orchestral solos are captured with the camera not staying too long
in one place. To ensure viewer engagement there is plenty of shot
variety between conductor, orchestra, soloist, hall and audience.
The sound quality of the audio formats feels excellent providing a
satisfying ambience, a mid-orchestra sound perspective and revealing
There are no subtitles available on this Opus Arte, Blu-ray release,
however, the booklet does contain full sung texts in German with English
and French translations. There is also a fairly concise essay. The
tracks are listed but not indexed.
On Blu-Ray this beautifully filmed and recorded live performance of
Bruckner’s Symphony No. 7 under Christian Thielemann
is worthy of special praise.
Previous review (DVD): John
Masterwork Index : Bruckner