on 28 January 2013
Harnoncourt really has a feel for Beethoven. The sound he draws from the Chamber Orchestra of Europe has an earthy quality that evokes a sense of theatre. The brass, woodwind and percussion, in particular, have an immediacy that makes you sit up in expectation. Dialogue is sensibly shaved to keep the pace and the drama moving.
I like Margiono as Leonore, she has an ample voice and secure through her range. I do prefer Ludwig under Klemperer but she is an attractive alternative with more power. Leiferkus tries a little too hard and makes Pizarro a two dimensional villain, but his voice is impressive though somewhat cold. Seiffert as Florestan has a weighty voice, in fact too much so - at the beginning of act II you could imagine the on priswalls crumbling under his top As. He makes no effort to convey a man holding on to the last dregs of his life. Polgar, Bonney, and Van der Walt as Rocco, Marzelline and Jacquino have fine voices and make up an excellent supporting cast.
So here is an atmospheric recording, and if, like me, you are a fan of Harnoncourt it is worth getting, especially on the bargain Teldec re-issue, but for a five star Fidelio get the Klemperer EMI edition.