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45 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An outstanding recording, 3 April 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Wagner: Der Fliegende Holländer (Audio CD)
I bought this CD set yesterday and have spent late last night and this morning wrapped up in listening to it. This is quite simply one of the most incredible operatic recordings I've ever heard. Few conductors have such a strong association with a particular orchestra as did Herbert von Karajan with the Berliner Philharmoniker. His mastery of their sound is heard in this recording from the opening refrains of the very familiar overture to the amazingly climactic conclusion.
The Flying Dutchman is written without intermission, and that's exactly how you'll want to listen to this recording. This is my fourth recording of the Flying Dutchman (the others being Solti, Nelsson, and Böhm), and naturally the first thing I did was to listen to a few highlights of this recording to compare it with those that I already had. Apart from the overture, the Karajan recording did not really hold up that well under this comparison. I heard van Dam and thought, 'he's a little to soft or quiet for the Dutchman', I heard Vejzovic and thought, 'why is a mezzo singing this part?'. Later in the evening I decided to listen at least to all of act one.
Everything (except for Peter Hofmann) was in place. The Dutchman's celebrated narration "Die Frist ist um" is unlike any other I've heard. Van Dam's voice has a naturally beautiful timbre, and he emphasises legato. This takes a few minutes to get used to (one always has in mind a more dramatic approach from the start: Simon Estes on the Nelsson recording, for example, is tense and taut from the first word to the last) but what comes across is an incredibly human potrayal of a real man caught in this terrible fate of never finding rest. When he finally sings 'when the resound of the crack of doom, rending the earth asunder' ("Wann dröhnt er, der Vernichtungsschlag, mit dem die Welt zusammenkracht") van Dam brings it over the top. This is his approach throughout: he crafts the role by holding back and then when it really counts he brings both vocal power and beauty of expression out to create a fantastic portait of a tortured soul. The Flying Dutchman is a ghost story, and really building to the climaxes is after all the best way to tell it.
Kurt Moll gives us a perfect Daland: fatherly, perhaps not afraid to profit somewhat, kind to his daughter, and quite funny in places. (His entrance ("Verzeiht!") after the love duet between Senta and the Dutchman will raise a laugh.)
This recording is full of hidden gems. A surprise is the scene between Erik and Senta after the spinning-wheel scene. This is where we get our first real taste of Dunja Vejzovic's Senta. She seems siezed by this spell and even though at this point in the opera we have no indication of how Senta and Erik would usually talk to one another (they are meant to be in love) it is easy to tell, not just by his disposition to her, but somehow (how??) by her impatience with him ("Was kann dein Leiden sein? Kennst jenes Unglücksei'gen Schicksal du?") that she has been dramatically altered by some supernatural effect. One of the most startling sections in this recording is the Dutchman's crew, when finally awoken by the cries of the Norwegians. Karajan uses Wagner's bizarre orchestration here (and adds the specified sound effects of wind and whistles) and has the chorus of ghosts placed all over the soundscape. The result, much like the very controlled terror among the Nibelungen slaves in his recording of Das Rheigold, is enough to turn your hair white. It beats any scary movie you can think of.
There are two forgivable downsides to this recording: Peter Hofmann is not as good as the rest of the cast vocally, however he is certainly dramatically 'involved' and is quite sufficient as Erik. And some of Vejzovic's singing is a bit harsh; in about two places it's very harsh. But in this world of mass-produced merchandise, a little imperfection does no harm.
Vejzovic, much like van Dam, does not deliver the expected (perhaps hoped for) ideal Senta: she too keeps most of the role at a fairly human vocal level, and does not oversing anything. But this is where Karajan (as with his recording of the Ring) succeeds brilliantly. The characters and scenes gain an especially human quality when he keeps a few stops in reserve, and when in the end of the opera 'all hell breaks loose', to put it mildly, the result is incredibly dramatic. The Flying Dutchman had never been one of my favourite Wagner operas, but this recording by Herbert von Karajan has changed my mind forever.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Just fantastic, 2 Mar 2014
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This review is from: Wagner: Der Fliegende Holländer (Audio CD)
It is so fantastic to listen to. The voices, the music, the conductor's understanding - it is the best. I can only recommend it to all Wagner lovers. We all have our favorites, but this takes the premium.
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Wagner: Der Fliegende Holländer
Wagner: Der Fliegende Holländer by Richard Wagner (Audio CD - 1993)
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