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Mozart: Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute)


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Product details

  • Performer: Tiana Lemnitz, Erna Berger, Helge Rosvaenge, Gerhard Hüsch
  • Orchestra: Favres Solisten Vereinigung, Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Conductor: Sir Thomas Beecham
  • Composer: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  • Audio CD (23 Aug 2003)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Nimbus Prima Voce
  • ASIN: B000009J5N
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 388,379 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Die Zauberfloete (32 tracks on 2 CD's) - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Product Description

La Flûte enchantée, opéra 2 actes / Helge Roswaenge (Tamino), Tiana Lemnitz (Pamina), Wilhelm Strienz (Sarastro), Erna Berger (Reine Nuit), Gerhard Hüsch (Papageno), Irma Beilke (Papagena)... - Favres Soloisten Vereinigung - Philh. de Berlin, dir. Thomas Beecham (1937)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Opera Buffet on 27 May 2012
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This version comes in a bog-standard 2CD "flippy-flap" case with 20-something pages of textual liner notes. But while you are browsing Amazon why not check if the slightly earlier one is still available. It comes in a 2CD fatbox housed in a glossy cardboard box (hinged type, not slipcase) with 252-page colour illustrated booklet including not only the libretto, which you probably already have, but so much more information and illustrations which add value and interest to the experience. You can find the first Nimbus CD boxset here: Mozart:Die Zauberflote These older, premium quality boxed sets feel like a treat to take off the shelf, which almost invite you to sit down and enjoy. Grab them while you can!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Ralph Moore TOP 50 REVIEWER on 21 July 2011
Format: Audio CD
The booklet details the difficulties Walter Legge in assembling and ideal cast in the Berlin of 1937 under Hitler; several first choice singers were either Jewish and obviously "unavailable" or, like Ludwig Weber, reluctant to risk compromising the recording because the repeated "Doch" was too low for him (yet he recorded the role satisfactorily for Karajan after the war). Yet the assemblage of singers here is very good indeed, entirely idiomatic, relaxed, immersed in the Viennese tradition and able to transfer their acumen to Berlin. For me, the star of the show is not Tiana Lemnitz, who is a shade tremulous and mature for the role despite the beauty of her tone and floating top notes, but Erna Berger, whose pinpoint accuracy and sustained evenness of vocal production as the Queen of the Night are a just ideal. I have come increasingly to appreciate Wilhelm Strienz's Sarastro for its warmth and humanity and the naturalness of his phrasing, despite his not having the deepest, blackest German bass ever. Naturalness is the principal feature of Gerhard Hüsch's Papageno, too; he makes him a genial, lovable figure. Many have objected to Roswaenge's rather strenuous Tamino: he scoops and sounds more heroic than boyish, but it's a pleasure to hear such a robust tenor - Jonas Kaufmann will no doubt have listened to him and noted how a big voice can sing Tamino if it retains its flexibility. The smaller roles are cast from strength and although a modern listener might regret the lack of dialogue and libretto, many conductors of the old school, including Klemperer, were of the opinion that for home listening by non-German speakers the dialogue was a mere irritant.Read more ›
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 6 reviews
31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
One of the great recordings of all time! 2 Aug 2000
By William Supon - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
With good reason, this recording of Mozart's sublimely silly masterpiece has never been out of the catalog since it was released in the late 1930's. The singers are mostly an outstanding group--Tiana Lemnitz, Helge Rosvaenge, Gerhard Hüsch...(who is arguably the finest Papageno ever put on wax, vinyl, tape, or aluminum backing). What makes it such a wonder, however, is Sir Thomas Beecham's leadership, at the helm of the Berlin Philharmonic. Beecham, more so than any other conductor, knows how to strike the right balance between the slapstick silliness of some scenes and the gloriously solemn atmosphere of others. What truly makes Sir Thomas' interpretation unique is that he makes both aspects of the opera part of a whole--conceived in Mozart's own dualistic mind. I can think of no other better performance of this masterpiece.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Grandfather of all recorded "Magic flutes" 16 Feb 2008
By Sasha - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Constantly in print since the time of its first release,this beautiful recording have a perfect balance between sonoric,weighty moments of drama and crispy,almost champaigne-bubbly giddines of a fairy tale.Its a testament to a Mozart talent as a composer to spread his magic around absurdly fantastic libretto by Schikaneder and to a Beecham to get everything just right at the time when audience was exposed to fashion of Sibelius and Strauss,while "Magic flute" itself languished unperformed,strange as it sounds now.It was producer Walter Legge who gently pushed Beecham in this project,convincing him that musicians in places like Salzburg,Vienna,Munich and Berlin have better historical awareness and tradition to perform this piece and once the wheels were set in motion,everything went assuredly and smoothly,the whole opera recorded in seven days.What strikes me interesting here is the fact that such a magical music was done in Berlin 1937. with all the darkness of war approaching (Tauber and Kipnis,being jewish,couldnt participate in this recording) and still the participants were so focused and commited as their lives depend on music. Before mentioned champaigne-bubbliness of a piece is very,very endearing and makes for heart-warming listening experience,no wonder this 1937. recording overhsadows many of later recordings in stereo - they might have added dialogue (Beecham refused to have dialogue in his recording,rightly arguing that it doesnt improve on repeated home listening and I completely agree with him) but gentleness,affections,magic and beauty are all here.
18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Misguided reproduction of a classic recording. 9 Sep 2010
By Kimba W. Lion - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
The Prima Voce series of CDs caters to a small cult that believes that the only way to play old records is on a horn gramophone with a cactus needle. There may be some validity to this approach for very old, acoustically-recorded material (although I doubt it), but by 1937 (the vintage of this recording) the art of recording had progressed very well, and there is a lot of real-sounding music in the grooves. But the Prima Voce process subjects the music to the resonance of the playback horn, giving us sound that peaks at about 800Hz and falls off rapidly both above and below that. The result is the "desiccated quality of the 1930s monaural sound" that Amazon's reviewer complains of; the shame is that it is the re-recording process, not the original records themselves, that give us that quality.

Add to this injustice the Prima Voce practice of placing the gramophone in a reverberant room, and using a microphone setup designed for surround sound. In other words, they deliberately record a lot of room resonance while recording the music, sound that was never a part of the original recording.

Believe me, a properly reproduced version of this Beecham recording does not sound "desiccated" at all.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
More Durable than Karnak 6 Mar 2013
By Bernard Michael O'Hanlon - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Pyramids crumble into step-pyramids before being reduced by the elements into knolls and then dust in wait for another Cheops to be enthroned, reign and die.

This Magic Flute is a pyramid which Beecham, Lord of the Pills, raised majestically in 1937. Notwithstanding the passage of decades and onslaught of Period Practice, its capstone is still in place; its lining of limestone is pristine and overall it shows every sign of defying time for the foreseeable future and beyond. What an achievement! There is no better sung Magic Flute on record. Nearby, the pyramids of the post-war Karajan (EMI) and Furtwangler performances are keeping pace with it. The contribution of one Fritz Wunderlich is keeping Karl Bohm's pyramid in the game. Further afield and despondent in ruination, one can view the knolls of Pale Bill Christie (Erato), Jeggy (DG) and Karajan (DG) whose Tamino, Francisco Araiza, is as gritty as the sands of Giza. To varying degrees, they served their day.

The singing here is ubiquitously excellent and ever so idiomatic. Even the Three Ladies are luxuriantly cast. If one were to laud one of the array, it would have to be the Queen of the Night, Erna Berger. Sweet of tone, she sounds as if she has a few more octaves up her sleeve lest Mozart bypasses the sky to reach for the stratosphere. While Beecham evokes the humour of the score and unforgettably so, I cannot recall a performance where its Masonic DNA is so vividly broadcast; listen, for instance, to the reprise of the opening chords in the Overture (3'43"ff) which is highly suggestive of a rite; the same comment applies to Sarastro's arias which are numinously sung by Wilhelm Strienz. The Nazis bowdlerised the Requiem, excising all references to the Old Testament. As the Goose-Steppers were no buddies of the Freemasons, one wonders what they would have done eventually to K 621 if the Thousand Year Reich had been less transitory than some of the pyramids mentioned above.

Nimbus, long dust itself, deserves a posthumous medal. The sound has been optimised but not at the expense of ambience. The voices are slightly to the front of the orchestra but who cares when their output is as glorious as this. And who really misses the dialogue?

Even if you are wary of historic recordings, cut your teeth on this one.

O Pharaoh Beecham, Lord of the Two Lands: great is thy praise!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
A gramophone classic 21 July 2011
By Ralph Moore - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
The booklet details the difficulties Walter Legge in assembling and ideal cast in the Berlin of 1937 under Hitler; several first choice singers were either Jewish and obviously "unavailable" or, like Ludwig Weber, reluctant to risk compromising the recording because the repeated "Doch" was too low for him (yet he recorded the role satisfactorily for Karajan after the war). Yet the assemblage of singers here is very good indeed, entirely idiomatic, relaxed, immersed in the Viennese tradition and able to transfer their acumen to Berlin. For me, the star of the show is not Tiana Lemnitz, who is a shade tremulous and mature for the role despite the beauty of her tone and floating top notes, but Erna Berger, whose pinpoint accuracy and sustained evenness of vocal production as the Queen of the Night are a just ideal. I have come increasingly to appreciate Wilhelm Strienz's Sarastro for its warmth and humanity and the naturalness of his phrasing, despite his not having the deepest, blackest German bass ever. Naturalness is the principal feature of Gerhard Hüsch's Papageno, too; he makes him a genial, lovable figure. Many have objected to Roswaenge's rather strenuous Tamino: he scoops and sounds more heroic than boyish, but it's a pleasure to hear such a robust tenor - Jonas Kaufmann will no doubt have listened to him and noted how a big voice can sing Tamino if it retains its flexibility. The smaller roles are cast from strength and although a modern listener might regret the lack of dialogue and libretto, many conductors of the old school, including Klemperer, were of the opinion that for home listening by non-German speakers the dialogue was a mere irritant. So we have here a concert performance which still hangs together owing to the way Mozart so cunningly balanced the light entertainment with deeper themes and allowed the music to reflect both without incongruity.

No-one understood better how to elicit the innate charm of this music than Beecham, and he had the finest orchestra available to realise his vision. His delicacy and subtlety with the score are extraordinary and the Berlin Philharmonic respond with unfailing sensitivity and virtuosity; we hear lovely playing from individual instrumentalists and ensembles are both tightly knit and dynamically graduated.

I like what Nimbus does to these old 78's and have no problem with a little air and space around the sound; it reduces hiss without obscuring detail. This set is available so cheaply that it might appeal beyond the confines of the historical opera recording buffs and open a window onto a vanished age of elegance.
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