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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Karajan's EMI 'Fidelio', 6 Aug. 2011
This review is from: Beethoven: Fidelio (Audio CD)
I'd recommend customers who want a recording of 'Fidelio' to purchase this recording and Klemperer's EMI recording. They're both on the same opera series and not too expensive on the Amazon Marketplace or to download. Jon Vickers is a great singer for Florestan in both recordings. His magnificent heroic voice is just right for Florestan. You must hear the extreme passion in Helga Dernesch's singing when she sings Leonore's roles. It sounds wonderful for Leonore's roles. Zoltán Kelemen's voice suits Don Pizarro because it's menacing enough to convey how wicked Pizarro is. Other aspects of this recording are also marvellous.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Has Everything, 8 Jan. 2013
This review is from: Beethoven: Fidelio (Audio CD)
Of the three EMI Salzburg productions recorded by Karajan in the 1970s, this Fidelio (the others were Salome and Tristan and Isolde) to my mind is the only all round success. All the singers acquit themselves well in roles well suited to their vocal qualities. They can all sing dramatically with great expressiveness in the three key roles. While there is a great deal of competition in the role of Leonore, and it will always come down to personal preference for favourite sopranos, I feel Helga Dernesch is the equal of any in this recording. She is in her prime and the voice soars. And who else has ever managed to combine such vocal power with an expression of vulnerability and jangled nerves in the great "Abscheulicher!" central aria? Ridderbusch is in his element as a basso profondo as Rocco. Kelemen though an already seasoned performer invests the evil Pizarro with venom and dark voiced strength to spare. Vickers sings his heart out as the heroic Florestan. I think his singing here, as with Dernesch over Ludwig (who does not quite have the top notes or impact) is freer and more beautiful than in the earlier Klemperer set. His voice is absolutely right for the character and he meets the challenge of his murderous introductory aria without strain. All of this is top notch, but even the secondary and minor roles in this performance benefit from superbly clear singing and characterisation, Laubenthal and Donath are just right, with their terse exchanges and clipped expression, as the immature limited outlook bfs; van Dam is comfortable in his role as the Minister with proclamations from high, with his rich fruity baritone, flying in at the last minute to save the day! Then there is the prisoners' chorus scene which is executed and sung with such feeling and perfection it will bring tears to the eyes. Karajan adopts just the right tempo here, reliable as he is throughout the opera allowing each tableau or scene to breathe and unfold its musical treasures.
The recording balance is superb. The orchestral playing - we are talking about the Berlin Philharmonic and Karajan in their heyday - is superb and again finely controled by the maestro in the service of the drama and singers. The ensembles are perfectly sung with voices blending in a way that can only have emerged from the luxury of adequate rehearsal time which only Karajan could command in his recording projects.
Bernstein, Bohm, Klemperer are all "good" for one or two reasons.
But why bother with them when you can get this, that satisfies on every count?
Unmissable for all Beethovians and opera lovers.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome!!!, 5 April 2014
This review is from: Beethoven: Fidelio (Audio CD)
Adding my voice to the other favourable comments. This remains an outstanding account which I have valued since it became my first recording of this opera in the mid seventies. The acclaimed Klemperer set became my first cd set a decade or so later and confirms that both Karajan's more viscerally exciting dramatic account and Klemperer's almost monumental visionary interpretation are both satisfying classic recordings in their different ways and both are strongly cast, and backed up in my case with the later Bernstein recording on DG I find that all three sets are essential listening for this opera.

The Karajan interpretation is overwhelmingly dramatic, the playing of the orchestra, soloists and chorus truly outstanding. Helga Dernesch is powerful vocally and movingly dramatic, Jon Vickers for me is even finer here than in his famous Klemperer performance, and Zoltan Keleman thrillingly projects the evil of Don Pizarro. Karl Ridderbusch gives a vocally strong, dramatically convincing, portrait of Rocco. The other principals are also very good. The dramatic tension in Florestan's dungeon has an intensity in this interpretation that is unbearable and the finale brings a blazing triumph

I have this in its first UK cd release from the 1980s with libretto but could not find that version to comment on. For dramatic intensity and remarkable performances from all concerned this set has few rivals and this shows Karajan's operatic direction at its very best. I was fortunate that this was my first Fidelio set all those years ago and it's special claims remain strong. Highly recommended!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dramatic and Satisfying, 9 Jan. 2013
This review is from: Beethoven: Fidelio (Audio CD)
This has always been a favourite version of Fidelio with me. Karajan misconducting is highly dramatic yet he is also able to relax for the more beautiful scenes such as the Canon Quartet. The playing of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra has almost a supernatural beauty which is breathtaking. The cast is generally superb and quite up to any other on disc. Some critics have been sniffy about this performance but I rather think it is because they are on the anti-Karajan bandwagon rather than because of the quality of the performance. It really is superb. There are other ways of doing this opera but HvK presents a good middle way between the period performance and the monumental Klemperer approach. Highly recommended!
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5.0 out of 5 stars but it's hard to imagine anything better., 14 Oct. 2014
This review is from: Beethoven: Fidelio (Audio CD)
A magnificent performance and recording. I'm no expert, but it's hard to imagine anything better.
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