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I never got around to picking these Mozart operas up on Lp; both are considered Great Recordings of the Century.
I hope Warner keeps releases such as these coming!
This may have been Popp's first commercial recording (at least for a big label - although I believe she was on a couple of Westminster Handel recordings from around that time). I remember a few years later hearing her as QotN on a Met broadcast (conducted by Skrowaczewski IIRC?), wherein she sounded more assured (and even more accurate) than on this recording, but I still think she's a real attraction here. Later on of course, she sang the role of Pamina on the Haitink recording. (BTW, I also liked Janowitz as Pamina on this Klemperer recording.)
I felt at the time that, typically, some of Klemperer's tempos dragged. But, overall, the performance was OK. Maybe I wouldn't be so bothered by the tempos if I heard the performance again today.
I know that these are sacred cows, but I don't care for either recording very much. The Magic Flute has some excellent singing (particularly Popp's KdN), but the rest of the cast is only fair, Gedda is a terrible Mozartean, and Frick wasn't having one of his better days (and wasn't a born Sarastro anyway). And the complete absence of dialogue is a dealbreaker for me. Klemperer's is a very different, more serious take on the opera; I don't mind that - I just wish that it had been done better.
As for the Giulini Don Giovanni, Waechter is an awful, hectoring Don, and I can't stand Schwarzkopf's meowing. And Alva's Ottavio is a wimp.
Giulini's performance. It remains the best I've heard.
...try the live one from 1956 from Salzburg, conducted by Mitropoulos.
It isn't high-rez, but the singers are leagues better than Giulini's.
I assume that you're talking about Zauberflote, not Don Giovanni.
The Beecham Magic Flute is another "sacred cow" that, IMO, doesn't deserve the sort of knee-jerk emcomiums (encomia?) that it often receives. For my money, the only singer who is above routine is Gerhard Husch as Papageno (and he is superb). I dislike Berger's little girlish KdN, Lemnitz's colorless Pamina, and it's hard to tolerate Strienz once one has heard the likes of Crass and Moll as Sarastro. Worst is Roswaenge, utterly miscast and charmless as Tamino.
This recording was originally supposed to include Tauber and Kipnis instead of Roswaenge and Strienz, but Berlin was not a friendly place for Jews in 1937, so they cast a couple of Nazi sympathizers in their place.
Thanks, Kas; I'll try to get a listen. Oddly, the only Mitropoulos with which I am very familiar is his conducting of Les Nuits d'Eté with Steber, but that performance is indeed stellar (both he and she).
Be sure to buy the Sony issue - this has been issued on some other labels, but Sony apparently got hold of the master tapes, and the sound, for a live 1956 performance, is excellent.
IMHO the performance really begins to deliver once Scarpia gets going towards the end of Act 1. It seems to me that De Sabata also (finally) wakes up at that point as well.
Is it just me, or is the love music of Act 1 very phoned-in and expedient? Sabata makes Solti sound relatively like Sinopoli during those pages. A little more indulgence would have been nice. : ) I'm wondering if I should try the Karajan/Price next....
But back to the topic at hand. I'm ashamed to admit I only know the highlights of both operas. In fact, it was only last year that I sat and actively listened to the Magic Flute: I stumbled across a really nice lp box set of Beecham's Berlin performance from HMV Treasury, from the beginning of time. I really liked it! The Queen of the Night was something else! As was the rest of the Opera: Mozart's "simplicity" suddenly came across as unusually eccentric and charming, in a good way, such as the stuttering, Pa-pa-pageno duet.
The Beecham's available at Pristine. Hmmmm.
Maybe try the Tosca with Caballe on Philips?
Although. . . at the same time, I must say that Dame Elizabeth didn't actually sound as bad as I'd expected! ;-)
Good to know that others don't care for Schwarzkopf's singing either. I find most of it painful. Particularly her Four Last Songs (which is beautifully conducted by George Szell); yes, I know that this is sacrilege but listen to Jessye Norman, Barbara Hendricks or even Lisa Della Casa and then tell me how "beautiful" her singing was.. I can't help but wonder what kind of career she would have had if she hadn't been married to Walter Legge.
as MQA Masters on TIDAL and are available as 'Hi Rez' streaming on QOBUZ.
Including these two.
As 'Magic Flute' is one of my favorite opera's, I might give that one a listen.
I did give a listen to the ne Warner Classics box set above. Not sure it's worth the 'Hi Rez' release it's getting on QOBUZ and the MQA Masters (24/96?).
that would be my "Desert Island" choice.
If I really **liked** Tristan enough to listen to it on a desert island, Boehm's Bayreuth live performance would be my choice.
Regarding Magic Flute--I don't know any performance from any era that betters the Fricsay mono version (1955) with Streich, Stader, Haefliger, Fischer-Dieskau, etc. For lo-fi sampling, here's the complete recording:
For non-German speakers like me, I'm happy to have the dialogue left out, too.
as there can only be on Tamino.
...the rest of the cast, not so much. Peters and Lear are barely adequate, and DFD's Papageno drives me up the wall.
And Bohm's conducting is humorless and charmless, as it always is in Mozart.
Count me as another fan of the Fricsay recording (DFD aside).
I adore that recording and have it on LP, tape and CD. AND... the Fricsay is every bit as good, with better conducting and wonderful, often sublime singing throughout.
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