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  • Reimann: Lear
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Reimann: Lear Original recording remastered

8 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Original recording remastered, July 18, 2000
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Editorial Reviews

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If you tend to avoid contemporary music on the argument that much of it seems dark, pessimistic, and discordant, then on the face of it there might seem plenty of reason to steer clear of this work by German composer Aribert Reimann. But think again. The darkness and pessimism that seize Reimann's legendary masterpiece from the very outset so compellingly match the mood of Shakespeare's haunting drama that it's almost impossible not to find yourself drawn into the tale afresh. Yes, the tortured strings, battering brass, cascading percussion, and anguished vocal lines make it a tough listen, but as with any new operatic adventure, paying close attention to the libretto focuses the mind and schools the ear.

And there could be no better introduction to Lear than this--vividly recorded, culled from live performances at the National Theatre in Munich in the year of the opera's premiere there, 1978. Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (who prompted Reimann to take on the project) is predictably magnificent in the title role, master of every nuance, but his is just one of a string of outstanding vocal contributions, from Rolf Boysen's remarkable Fool to Julia Varady's passionate Cordelia. Try this--but maybe not alone and late at night. --Andrew Green


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Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.
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Album Only

Product Details

  • Performer: Gerhard Auer, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Julia Varady, Rolf Boysen, Helga Dernesch, et al.
  • Orchestra: Bayerisches Staatsorchester
  • Conductor: Gerd Albrecht
  • Composer: Aribert Reimann
  • Audio CD (July 18, 2000)
  • SPARS Code: ADD
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: Original recording remastered
  • Label: Deutsche Grammophon
  • ASIN: B00004T765
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #274,982 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Robert F. Pokorny on October 17, 2000
Format: Audio CD
This is the most intense performance imaginable of one of the most brilliant pieces of contemporary music. That it was edited together from live performances makes it all the more amazing. The audience is virtually nonexistant (too stunned to cough?) and all the artists perform with a dedication and single-mindedness that is very rare. Special mention should go to the 3 daughters and 2 sons of the performance, especially Dernesch and Knutson. The scene of Gloucester's blinding is extraordinary as performed here and the piece is a worthy adaptation of Shakespeare. The remastered set finally includes translations and preserves a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Vincent Lau on August 3, 2000
Format: Audio CD
Although this reviewer is not averse to modern operas, Aribert Reimann's LEAR will probably never be too close to his heart. Part of the reason perhaps lies in this reviewer's inability to appreciate music that are too percussive (it is overwhelmingly so in this opera, and in particular during Part One where the monotonous and repetitive clamour can become rather tiresome after a while). But more importantly, there seems to be a paucity of themetic material which can readily be discerned by the listener. While it is perhaps not fair to describe the music here as tantamount to the sound effects in radio plays (as mentioned by Fischer-Dieskau in his vigorous defence of the opera in the CD booklet), and that there exists certain tender moments to counter-balance the hugely brassy and percussive writing, one does feel a bit musically short-changed after listening to the complete opera, which lasts for over 2 hours.
Nevertheless, Reimann generally did a better job with the vocal parts, which are powerfully written (and difficult to sing) and these have helped in enhancing the dramatic impact of the work as well as delineating the various characters involved in the morbid tragedy. As in all operatic adaptations of Shakespeare's plays, the story is invariably simplified and some of the minor characters are cut out. Nevertheless, the adaptation is generally a convincing one and the story unfolds naturally at a sure pace with considerable dramatic build-up from time to time.
The chief glory of this live recording from Munich in 1978 lies in the magnificent performance of the entire cast. Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, in excellent voice and at the height of his dramatic and interpretative powers, gives a shattering portrayal of the betrayed monarch.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Raleigh W. Elliott on February 8, 2001
Format: Audio CD
I saw the premiere of this opera in San Francisco, and, to put it mildly, I was almost blown out of my chair. It's spellbinding. Definitely not for lovers of easy-listening music or for those addicted to melody. And I'm happy to report that this recording captures everything in the live performance except for the visuals. Nothing in theater approaches the madness and raw heart-rending intensity of Reimann's LEAR. Although I find most contemporary music irritatingly ambiguous or abstract, I had to embrace this opera. It surpasses categorization. The music will grab your attention like acid thrown in your face. Ugly and beautiful at the same time, it's so faithful to Shakespeare's play in mood and affect that you would swear the bard himself had written the score. LEAR is not just another contemporary opera: time will prove that it is one of the greatest operas of all time. Don't put it on until you have a couple of hours alone with your stereo, and be sure to take your phone off the hook. What Verdi struggled for years to do, then abandoned, defeated, Aribert Reimann has done.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 24, 2001
Format: Audio CD
When Reimann's Lear received its first performances around 1980, it caused quite a stir. It didn't hurt that the the work attracted two star baritones to the title role--Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (for whom it was written) and Thomas Stewart (who sang the American premiere in San Francisco). Yet the score itself struck listeners at the time as incredibly powerful.
Thus, it's mildly surprising that the opera failed to gain a foothold in the repertory of major houses (during a time when, say, the three-Act Lulu has). It's more surprising, however, that Deutsche Grammophon waited so long to reissue the opera on CD. But now it's here, and those who became familiar with it in its vinyl incarnation some years ago now have the opportunity to renew their acquaintance in the new medium. And perhaps the work will now garner a new public who will propel it back onto the opera stage.
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