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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Can't disagree, 5 Mar 2013
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This review is from: Mozart: Don Giovanni (Audio CD)
I hadn't heard this for a good few years, but I vividly recall its critical reception in the sixties. Even the positive reviews had reservations - about the Donna Anna, Ghiaurov's Don, (around the same time the Covent Garden staging under Solti had featured Siepi, as well as Freni) some of the tempi, regrets that the earlier, Legge-planned recording had been made by Giulini when Klemperer had had to withdraw. The sixties was still in thrall to the idea of the "definitive recording", on which the old "Record Guide" had been based, which would justify the relatively high cost of a new LP boxed set. What this now sounds like is something else - opera as drama (whether it's Wagnerian or not is for others to argue about), if not perhaps as drama giocoso exactly. The impact of Klemperer's orchestra is very powerful indeed, and the tempi are dignified (we are dealing with aristocrats and their sins) and sometimes dangerous. We are never very far from tragic utterance. The violence underlying the story is explicit in the conducting and the casting - Berry's Leporello isn't a charming rogue but a leering lout. Ghiaurov is not to be trifled with - you wouldn't want to drink champagne with him. Between them they set into relief the strength under pressure of the women - we are almost in the world of Leonore ( Ludwig again, this time as a mezzo, and strongest in her parodied outrage) and Senta, but they have to save themselves here. This Don isn't going to be redeemable.

The other impression is Klemperer's grasp of the drama as a whole. The structure of Don Giovanni can often seem a bit ramshackle as the pursuit of the Don goes round its many corners and sub-plots blossom. Here it doesn't. The sheer power of Klemperer's opening scene sets up a granite pillar to balance the finale of the second act - you never forget the killing of the commendatore, which is what, after all, it is all about. What follows can, under Klemperer, seem almost a forensically exact trial and retribution. This is not the dream-cast, ideally recorded, permanently definitive Don Giovanni folk used to dream about, but it says an enormous amount about the way the work was once seen and why, and about Mozart, and the tension never lets up. It needs an evening to itself - any interruption is very hard to take. You can't say that of many operatic recordings these days.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ding Don, 27 Feb 2013
This review is from: Mozart: Don Giovanni (Audio CD)
This recording was a revelation. I've always liked Klemperer, but he really brings this opera alive. I have other recordings (Karajan, Jacobs, Marriner and Krips) but this one has leapt into top spot. Klemperer has the New Philharmonia playing so crisply. There is gravitas and weight where needed but the lightness and joy of Mozart's music makes a big impact here - aided by fantastic sound.

I've always liked Ghiaurov though often found his bass voice ponderous and heavy, but here he is hardly recognisable - a gallant and confident Giovanni who skips through his music like a light baritone. Walter Berry has never done a great deal for me, but he is a charming Leporello - fun and well sung. Christa Ludwig throws caution to the wind as Donna Elvira and there are times when I found her a trifle too fierce in tone, but nonetheless a full and mature performance. Watson is impressive as Donna Anna, though, similarly to Ludwig, pushes a little too a hard on occasion. I doubt there was ever such a beautifully sung Zerlina as here with Mirella Freni. Gedda is on top form and sings Ottavio as if he is singing Rodolfo, and his tone is full and pleasant throughout his range. Montarsolo is an exceptional Masetto, particularly his recitative after the Don beats him up. Crass is a suitably grave Commendatore. In fact all the singers seem to have really wanted to convey their characters as fully as they could within the confines of a recording studio - you get the impression that they had performed the opera together over several productions, yet this was not the case.

So whether you want one Don Giovanni or add a star recording to your collection this will meet your needs.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Fun Side of Otto Klemperer (!), 27 May 2013
By 
John Fowler (urbana, illinois) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Mozart: Don Giovanni (Audio CD)
Klemperer's 1966 recording of Don Giovanni with Nicolai Ghiaurov was first issued on CD in 1991.
The sound was not remastered for this 2012 re-release, but it is very good indeed.

The performance is heavy and dramatic.
Not the currently accepted Mozart style.
I'd rather hear this than an "elegant" performance.

One difference between this and the 1991 CDs is that you lose the printed libretto and translation.
Now you are directed to EMI's website, where they are available in perpetuity.
Supposedly.

The other difference is that this new version includes 59 minutes of rehearsal excerpts, mostly devoted to Mirella Freni as Zerlina.

I had a crush on Mirella Freni, and it sounds like Otto Klemperer did too.
It actually sounds like the 81 year-old conductor is flirting with the 31 year-old singer.
Unexpected fun side of Klemperer.

This is not what I expected a Klemperer rehearsal to sound like.

The opera, but not the rehearsal CD, is included in the 11 CD EMI box of Mozart Operas: Mozart: Le Nozze Di Figaro/Don Giovanni/...

Klemperer's Magic Flute was justifiably part of EMI's "Great Recordings of the Century.
The Cosi fan tutte and Marriage of Figaro are very controversial.
Recorded late in Klemperer's life, they are also heavy and dramatic (detractors would say slow and ponderous).
I find them fascinating, but they don't sound like comic operas.

I recommend Klemperer's Mozart Opera box, but I also recommend that you supplement it with this (very inexpensive) 2012 reissue of Don Giovanni.
Just for the sake of the rehearsal CD.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars best Don Giovanni, but some sound problems, 17 Oct 2013
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This review is from: Mozart: Don Giovanni (Audio CD)
This version of Don Giovanni is one I have always wanted, with a superb cast and the magisterial conducting of Otto Klemperer. But I do have one criticism, and that is that in some arias the recording is less than perfect. For example in Act 2, in the trio with Giovanni, Leporello and Elvira, some of the orchestration is almost inaudible; so is the mandolin in Giovanni's famous solo that follows.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The gold standard, 16 Feb 2013
By 
Andrew Smaje - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Mozart: Don Giovanni (Audio CD)
The most wonderful of Klemperer's Mozart recordings, the dark heart of the opera opened up by his virulent reading of the score and the gorgeous cast. Has anyone sung Zerlina more beautifully than Mirella Freni? Ghiaurov is stunning as the Don, cloaked in his astonishingly jet-coloured baritone.
The extra disc with rehearsals is revealing, amusing and at times, inspiring.
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Mozart: Don Giovanni
Mozart: Don Giovanni by Otto Klemperer (Audio CD - 2012)
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