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Reimann : Lear [Original recording remastered]

Gerd Albrecht , Bavarian State Opera Chorus , Bavarian State Opera Orchestra , Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau , Karl Helm , et al. Audio CD


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Disc: 1
1. Lear - Part One, Scene One: 'Wir haben euch hierher befohlen' (Lear, Goneril, Cordelia, Regan)
2. Lear - Part One, Scene One: 'Ich kenne deine Schuchternheit' (Lear, Cordelia, Kent)
3. Lear - Part One, Scene One: 'Die entartete Schwester' (Regan, Goneril, Cordelia, Edmund, Edgar, Narr)
4. Lear - Part One, Scene One: 'Das Alter hat den Vater sehr verandert' (Goneril, Regan, Narr)
5. Lear - Part One, Scene One: 'Mein Bruder Edgar' (Edmund, Edgar)
6. Lear - Part One, Scene One: Zwischenspiel I - Interlude I: 'Ist nicht das Alter lustig' (Chor)
7. Lear - Part One, Scene Two: 'Sauft, fresst, reisst Witze!' (Lear, Narr, Kent, Chor)
8. Lear - Part One, Scene Two: 'So geht es nun' (Goneril, Regan, Kent, Lear)
9. Lear - Part One, Scene Two: 'Grasmucke' (Narr, Lear, Goneril, Regan)
10. Lear - Part One, Scene Two: 'Was steht ihr da und glotzt?' (Lear, Regan, Goneril)
See all 14 tracks on this disc
Disc: 2
1. Lear- Part One, Scene Four: 'Hier ist der Platz' (Lear, Narr, Kent, Edgar, Chor)
2. Lear- Part One, Scene Four: 'Doch Ratten und Mause' (Edgar, Kent, Lear, Narr)
3. Lear- Part One, Scene Four: 'Sie sollen Regan den Lieb aufscheiden' (Lear, Narr, Kent, Edgar, Chor))
4. Lear - Part Two, Scene 1: 'Edmund, wir fingen deinen Vater ein' (Regan, Goneril, Edmund)
5. Lear - Part Two: Scene Two, Scene Three: Scene Two: 'Es fliesst viel Blut' (Goneril, Edmund) - Scene Three: 'Man fand den Vater rasend wie das emporte Meer' (Cordelia)
6. Lear - Part Two, Scene Four: 'Welt, Welt o Welt! Wer kann sagen: Ich bin der Elendeste?' (Edgar, Goneril)
7. Lear - Part Two, Scene Four: Zwischenspiel IV - Interlude IV
8. Lear - Part Two, Scene Five: 'Wann kommen wir zum Gipfel dieser Hohe?' (Lear, Edgar)
9. Lear - Part Two, Scene Five: Zwischenspiel V - Interlude V
10. Lear - Part Two, Scene Six: ''Mein lieber Vater!' (Cordelia, Lear)
See all 13 tracks on this disc

Product Description

Amazon.co.uk

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. 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, in 1978. Fischer-Dieskau (who prompted Reimann to take on the project) is predictably magnificent in the title role, master of every nuance but his is but 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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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  8 reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intense! 18 Oct 2000
By Robert F. Pokorny - Published on Amazon.com
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.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent performance of an intriguing opera 3 Aug 2000
By Vincent Lau - Published on Amazon.com
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. The sense of helplessness and loneliness of a king driven mad by his cruel daughters are heart-rendingly and delicately expressed. This recording will always serve as an excellent reminder of the great artistry of this legendary singer. Helga Dernesh, her Wagnerian voice gleaming and rock steady, gives a magisterial performance as the scheming Goneril, while Colette Lorand, grandly pompous though a bit shrill at time in some of Regan's coloratura outbursts, is perfectly in character. On the other hand, the good Cordelia is sung with great sensitivity by Julia Varady, and she is particularly fine in the moving duet with her father in Part Two. The men are also uniformly outstanding, with Hans Gunter Nocker's sonorous Gloucester, David Knutson's finely sung Edmund (with lots of difficult falsetto singing in the scenes which he feigns madness) , Werner Gotz's darkly treacherous Edmund and Rolf Boysen's sarcastic Fool providing a formidable counter-weight to the more flamboyant female roles. The orchestra and chorus at the Bayerischer Staatsoper provide excellent support under the baton of Gerd Albrecht.
Despite the fact that this is a live recording, the sound quality is fine (with the voices very clearly and forwardly captured). And other than the article by Fischer-Dieskau mentioned earlier on, there is also a chronology of the process of composition penned by Reimann himself in the booklet, which may be of considerable interest to students who study composition. All in all, despite whatever reservations as regards the music, given the lofty standards achieved in the performance, this set can still be recommended with great enthusiasm.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I SAW IT LIVE 9 Feb 2001
By Raleigh W. Elliott - Published on Amazon.com
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.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece of Western European high modernism 25 Jan 2001
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
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.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Over-powering drama leaving one breathless 28 Dec 2007
By Nicholas Freidin - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
Unlike some other reviewers, I think that a lot coming out of Germany after 1950 was self-serving rubbish - post-war composers trying desperately to break away from their country's long and great operatic traditon, turning to computers, film, and other clever non-musicial artifices. Most of it shallow in retrospect. Here with Aribert Reimann, we have a powerful opera, purely musical, and real theatre, based on Shakespeare's King Lear, a subject originally suggested by the late Fischer-Dieskau who sang the title role at the premiere (in Munich, in 1978). In fact, this recording was made shortly after, with the same original cast, including Helga Dernesch as Goneril, but long unavailable on CD.

King Lear is a violent play, and Reimann provides the proper shocking music. Mostly percussive, with the more lyrical parts reserved for Cordelia (Julia Varady, in real life Fisher-Dieskau's wife). This is an opera that requires the listener to pay close attention - not background music while doing chores around the house. The experience is mesmorizing. And Shakespeare's tormented and frail king is made that much more human.

This must be Fischer-Dieskau's greatest recording - an astonishing feat of physical and vocal power and endurance - a worthy tribute to one of the greatest operatic and Lieder singers of the last century.

The recording is first-class, with Gerd Albrecht, a champion of 20th Century opera, conducting the Bayerische Staatsorchester and Chor, and a superb cast of committed singer-actors. The sound is immediate, well-balance and crystal clear - with the required in-your-face explosions of sound. Play it loud.

Reimann's music, although 'modern', is most accessible, closer to Berg's Wozzeck, and von Einem's Danton's Tod, than to any 'multi-media' nonesense that came out of Germany and Austria in the 1960s and since.
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