Strauss - Der Rosenkavalier / Schwarzkopf · Ludwig · Karajan
Audio CD | Remastered, Box Set
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Legendary 1957 Performance Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Otto Edelmann, Christa Ludwig, Teresa Stich Randall*, Eberhard Waechter* • Philharmonia Orchestra, Herbert Von Karajan / Richard Strauss – Der Rosenkavalier Label:Genre:Classical Style:Opera, Modern Credits Baritone Vocals [Herr Von Faninal, A Wealthy Parvenu] – Eberhard Waechter* Bass Vocals [Police Officer] – Franz Bierbach Bass-baritone Vocals [An Attorney] – Harald Pröglhöf* Bass-baritone Vocals [Baron Ochs Auf Lerchenau] – Otto Edelmann Choir [Children's] – Chorus Of Children From Bancroft's School*, Chorus Of Children From Loughton High School For Girls* Chorus Master – Wilhelm Pitz Chorus, Orchestra – Philharmonia Orchestra And Chorus Composed By – Richard Strauss Conductor – Herbert Von Karajan Contralto Vocals [Annina, Valzacchi's Accomplice] – Kerstin Meyer Liner Notes [Essay/introduction] – William Mann Mezzo-soprano Vocals [Octavian, A Young Nobleman]] – Christa Ludwig Repetiteur – Heinrich Schmidt Soprano Vocals [A Milliner] – Anny Felbermayer Soprano Vocals [Marianne, Sophie's Duenna] – Ljuba Welitsch Soprano Vocals [Princess Von Werdenberg The Feldmarschallin] – Elisabeth Schwarzkopf Soprano Vocals [Sophie, Herr Von Faninal's Daughter] – Teresa Stich-Randall Tenor Vocals [A Landlord] – Karl Friedrich (2) Tenor Vocals [A Singer] – Nicolai Gedda Tenor Vocals [Major-domo Of Faninal & An Animal-seller] – Gerhard Unger Tenor Vocals [Major-domo Of The Marschallin] – Erich Majkut Tenor Vocals [Valzacchi, An Italian Intriguer] – Paul Kuen Text By – Hugo von Hofmannsthal Translated By [English Translation Of Libretto] – Walter Legge Vocals [Four Footmen Of The Princess & Four Waiters] – Messr. Waechter*, Messr. Makjut*, Messr. Unger* Vocals [Four Footmen Of The Princess] – Messr. Pröglhöf* Vocals [Four Waiters] – Messr. Bierbach* Vocals [Three Noble Orphans] – Mme. Ludwig*, Mme. Schwarzkopf*, Mme. Meyer*
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Top customer reviews
The main attraction here is, I suppose, Elizabeth Schwarzkopf, whose approach is imaginative and characterful, more restrained, perhaps, than some competing Marschallin's, but all the more effective for it - notice, for instance, how her voice often seems to emerge gradually from the orchestra rather than jumping into the spotlight. Her singing is, however, almost achingly beautiful, with soaring lines, warmth and tenderness - it is, I'd say, among the most convincingly and beautifully taken opera roles ever; quite peerless. Fortunately she is supported by a cast almost equally impressive. Listen, for instance, to Teresa Stich-Randall's high pianissimo notes; sheer magnificence and a tonal control to die for. Christa Ludwig's Octavian is, if possible, even better; indeed, I couldn't imagine a more captivating, gorgeously sung and thoroughly idiomatic performance than this. If Edelmann's Ochs is less immediately striking, it is mostly because of what he would have to compete for attention with, for the performance is really sympathetic and warmly sung. Part of the success of this performance is certainly also due to the fact that we get a thoroughly luxuriant cast, even with respect to the smaller roles - take Nikolai Gedda's wonderful Italian tenor as a case in point; better sung, I think, than many main characters on high-profile releases today.
Overall, the performance is, perhaps, less overtly dramatic than some others, and more dreamlike and glowingly magical. This is emphasized, not the least, by Karajan's conducting - he is actually relatively fast, but displays an unerring command of the overall lines and arguments and draws playing of refinement, smoldering fire and quietly surging power rather than surface drama - yes, the later Karajan that sometimes focuses too much on beauty of sound is audible, but in this recording the result is a performance of taste, elegance, but opulence and enchantment nonetheless. In fact, the whole opera seems to be conceived of as a long crescendo, culminating in the trio of the third act, where the restraint is finally let go of, letting the music sing and sound with unbridled power. The effect is certainly among the most powerful, wonderful and ravishing musical effects ever achieved; the kind of overwhelming magnificence that leaves the listener breathless and speechless for a long time afterwards.
Oh well, I won't go on - this is simply a performance that demands to be heard, even if you should happen not to like opera in general. It is without doubt one of the great recordings of the century and the kind of recording that I couldn't have imagined living without once I've heard it. Urgently recommended.
The notes to the CDs say that the 1956 recording became a study tool, and ironically that turns out to be apt: by comparison with the stage performance the studio recording is more of a seminar. The difference compared to the staged version's drama seems partly due to the lack of the stimulus of a studio, but partly to pure musical factors as well: clinical tempos and Philharmonia's concert style. Everything is done to perfection, of course.
Schwartzkopf's dramatic vocal gestures change substantially between the two performances, and for me the 1962 portrayal works better.
I also find that the CDs have a bit of that edge in the treble that initially was so striking as compared to LPs but that now is not appreciated. The sound in the staged performance's Blu-Ray disk is better balanced.
The singers in this recording are reknowned for their interpretations of the roles, with Elisabeth Schwarzkopf's Marschallin being labeled as the definitive take on the Princess' character. I think that, for all her mannerisms and careful treatment of the score though, that the wholistic interpretation of the role is lost. Her voice is perfect for the role though. I have never heard a more affecting and genuine Viennese Marschallin.
The Octavian in this recording is Christa Ludwig. I need not say anything more about this artist except that everything she touches becomes the definitive interpretation of that role. From the alto part in Bach's St. Matthew Passion to Brangane, Waltraute, and Fricka in Wagner, and the Mahler alto parts, everything that this great artist sings is a pleasure to the ear and to the interpetive listener's point of view. She set the prototype of the mezzo Octavian for future generations (in what was supposed to be a soprano role).
Teresa Stich-Randall is a so-so choice for the part of Sophie. I've heard better elsewhere. Otto Edelmann though, is a very good Ochs. It is very funny...very Viennese. Nicolai Gedda is a very fluent and dulcet-sounding Italian tenor.
In conclusion, while I think this Rosenkavalier has many merits that make it a delight to listen to, I don't think it should be the definitive Rosenkavalier for any collection. There are cuts here and there, but it is nonetheless a magnificent performance. Also, I think the conducting could have used a bit more liveliness to it as opposed to the Romantic and melancholy sound that Karajan brought to this interpretation. It is an excellent Rosenkavalier, but there are a few recordings that have advantages over it.
I would say, perhaps Carlos Kleiber's Rosenkavalier with Fassbaender and Gwyneth Jones and Lucia Popp would probably top the list because of the wonderful conducting and the near-perfect cast (but really, Schwarzkopf could be a better Marschallin than Jones in many instances) and Popp's perfect Sophie. Another set I really like is Solti's due to the excellence of his cast and the beauty of Helen Donath's Sophie, which has never been bettered on disc. Although Regine Crespin does not have the most fluid of voices, she gives a most touching portrayal of the Marschallin, and I definitely like Yvonne Minton's very strong Octavian. Solti is not the most Viennese conductor, but his lively reading of the score gives it some new perspective. I think listeners should give Erich Kleiber's account with Decca a try. Jurinac and Güden are perfect as Octavian and Sophie, and Reining, even if her voice is rather mature for the Marschallin, gives a most breathtaking and complete interpretation. The Ochs in that recording, Ludwig Weber, is also one of the best interpreters of the part without the hammy theatrics of some Barons. I'd still stick with this one for Schwarzkopf though, but Stich-Randall ruins an otherwise near-perfect set for me.
Listen to the waltz music a few times and you can't get it out of your head. Nor do you want to.