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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still the best, fifty years on
Kempe did not record enough but this recording alone would be enough to preserve his reputation for posterity. He had a gift for maintaining an over-arching shape throughout an opera without allowing the big moments to become desiccated or smoothed over; hence he move effortlessly from the serene sheen of the VPO strings in the Prelude to the muttering menace of the Act...
Published on 24 May 2012 by Ralph Moore

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0 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars 2 ordered - 2 returned as defective
I re-ordered the CDs as the first was corrupted in the sense that it would not download/copy onto my Brennan JB7- so was the second. I returned both and have not ordered its replacement yet. Subject to that problem, I suspect it is a perfectly good production so I hope others are more successful with different pressings than I.
Published 9 months ago by MR J E BATES


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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still the best, fifty years on, 24 May 2012
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Ralph Moore "Ralph operaphile" (Bishop's Stortford, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Wagner: Lohengrin (Audio CD)
Kempe did not record enough but this recording alone would be enough to preserve his reputation for posterity. He had a gift for maintaining an over-arching shape throughout an opera without allowing the big moments to become desiccated or smoothed over; hence he move effortlessly from the serene sheen of the VPO strings in the Prelude to the muttering menace of the Act II Prelude and preserve dramatic unity. The VPO still had a highly individual, distinctive sound in the early 60's, not least in the rasp of their woodwind and the dark roundness of their lower strings and they clearly relish playing under Kempe, who had by this time transferred his loyalties to them from Berlin.

EMI's casting was as good as could be made in the early 60's; especially striking is Christa Ludwig's Ortrud. Many great artists - Astrid Varnay, Margarete Klose, Gwyneth Jones - have made a triumph of this role but Ludwig, just at that point in her career when she had a brilliant top and extraordinary dark heft in the lower reaches of her mezzo-soprano. Furthermore, her chemistry with the just recently deceased Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau's Friedrich is palpable: he craven, blustering and insecure, she steely and imperturbably malignant. I am a non-fan of D-F-D but concede that this is among his finest and most apt characterisations. In fact there is only one serious weakness in the cast: Otto Wiener's elderly-sounding, nasal Herald, so dry and unprepossessing of voice compared with, say, the stentorian Tom Krause for Sawallisch at Bayreuth. Elisabeth Grümmer is ideal: silvery, vulnerable, ethereal - perfect. Jess Thomas allows the occasional intrusive bleat to mar his line but is otherwise heroic and impassioned. Gottlob Frick is suitably imposing as Henry the Fowler.

There are other very recommendable recordings, live, under von Matacic, Sawallisch and Kubelik's studio version but this one holds its ranking as pre-eminent in that it achieves a grandeur and spiritual dimension beyond any other.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic!, 16 May 2013
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This review is from: Wagner: Lohengrin (Audio CD)
This is a classic performance. Kempe was a great conductor who shaped the music wonderfully. Not being a glamour boy he didn't always work with the best orchestras but this is an example of what he achieved with an orchestra like the VPO. One could go into great detail but just to say that this is one of those occasions when everything was right - cast, orchestra and conductor. The recording shows its age a bit but certainly is very serviceable. A classic!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great, great recording, 26 Feb 2013
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This review is from: Wagner: Lohengrin (Audio CD)
I must agree with Mr. Moore on this exemplary recording. I have it on LP, cassette, and CD. Now I have it again on CD in the new EMI box(36-CDs!)
WAGNER: The Great Operas. What a steal at 29pounds!!
I love this recording, and I DO love D F-D. In fact the whole cast is near perfect, tho I do agree that Mr. Weiner is a tad nasal. The real stars are Kempe and the tremendous Vienna Phil. WHAT A SOUND!! And now look at the price! This may indeed be a fifty + year-old recording, but it is still the best after all these years. Perhaps those really were the days of the great Wagnerian singers...?

Scott Harrison
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wagner Lohengrin - Kempe, 7 Jun 2014
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This review is from: Wagner: Lohengrin (Audio CD)
In spite of the age of these recordings the rich and sumptuous threads of melody come through well. Soloists and orchestra are splendid and the sound quality is no doubt helped by the work being recorded in a studio rather than during a live performance. The soloists are particularly strong with such legendary names as Jess Thomas, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Christa Ludwig and Gottlob Frick. A small negative for me was that I prefer my Wagner heroines (Elsa) to sing with a little less vibrato. Overall, though, this must still be one of the best recordings of the opera.
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0 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars 2 ordered - 2 returned as defective, 28 Sep 2013
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This review is from: Wagner: Lohengrin (Audio CD)
I re-ordered the CDs as the first was corrupted in the sense that it would not download/copy onto my Brennan JB7- so was the second. I returned both and have not ordered its replacement yet. Subject to that problem, I suspect it is a perfectly good production so I hope others are more successful with different pressings than I.
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