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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Remastered, rervivified, repackaged, repriced and now reviewed-and recommended as the Best Buy!
I reviewed this set in April 2010 in its last incarnation, which was a straight reissue of the original 1980s full price transfer at mid-price. I advised caution because of the extreme interpretation and the usual vocal issues surrounding the performance of Gwyneth Jones-the infamous wobble.

Only 4 years later it re-emerges at super budget-price in a new...
Published 3 months ago by D. S. CROWE

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars well worth listening to
The star of this performance is Lucia Popp, but many will find Bernstein's conducting over indulgent. I'm not convinced by Christa Ludwig's Marschallin (I have always liked Schwarzkopf in the role) and didn't enjoy Gwyneth Jones's Octavian much. Walter Berry is very good as Ochs. The Vienna Phil play sublimely and the recording is excellent. But ultimately this...
Published 1 month ago by Robert Gardiner


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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Remastered, rervivified, repackaged, repriced and now reviewed-and recommended as the Best Buy!, 22 July 2014
By 
D. S. CROWE "Music Lover" (UK) - See all my reviews
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I reviewed this set in April 2010 in its last incarnation, which was a straight reissue of the original 1980s full price transfer at mid-price. I advised caution because of the extreme interpretation and the usual vocal issues surrounding the performance of Gwyneth Jones-the infamous wobble.

Only 4 years later it re-emerges at super budget-price in a new 24Bit/96kHz re-mastering supervised by Andreas Meyer who has transformed so many recordings of dubious audio quality into astonishingly good ones already for Sony, notably recordings by Bernstein and the NYPO.

The set was surrounded in controversy and drama-in musical terms- from the announcement of its planned recording in 1971.
Bernstein had scored a huge hit with the production in Vienna, and under a long standing reciprocity agreement with CBS/Columbia, Decca were obliged to provide recording facilities including its exclusive venue the Sofiensaal-and its equally exclusive orchestra the VPO! This would not have been such a big deal, but only 2 years earlier Decca had recorded this work with Solti and a world class cast, the first major Vienna Project in the post John Culshaw era.

It is worth reflecting that in his tenure as A&R Director and Producer at Decca, John Culshaw revolutionised stereo recording and the way we thought about it, and left a staggering legacy of recordings from the Karajan Zarathustra to the 1967 Solti Elektra, his last project-all in a period of only 10 years! This included The Ring, Tristan, Salome and many orchestral recordings with Solti, Tosca, Carmen and Aida with Karajan among a host of triumphs-but no Rosenkavalier, which though planned under his aegis became his deputy and successor Christopher Raeburn's first major solo project.

Thus it was that Decca were less than delighted that in having to record a direct competitor to its own recording, Bernstein and CBS had tempted John Culshaw back to the Sofiensaal from his job at the BBC to produce the new set. Regular CBS Producer John Mordler was also credited, but in fact was there in largely administrative capacity. The recording was by the old team of Culshaw, Gordon Parry and the "Young Turk" James Locke-legendary names all.

The recording process was fraught with arguments over cuts, casting choices, a near Domingo "no show" and the usual love/hate banter between Bernstein and the VPO-business as usual in other words (they LOVE a drama in Vienna!).
On its release, the sound recording received rapturous praise-and in this new re-mastering that praise stands as justified again. There is a VERY wide dynamic range, with an enormous sense of space around voices and orchestra, and the horns are very prominent-all 8 of them in Strauss's preferred option. All muddiness has gone for the louder passages, detail is clear as never before, balance is perfect. There is no trace of hiss. The whole enterprise has been revivified superbly, and sonically it bests even the Solti in this incarnation.

Over the years I have mellowed over the artistic reservations. Gwyneth Jones is a rich dramatic soprano singing what is usually a mezzo role, and she is taxed in the lower register at times, though her smoky tones make for a virile Octavian. Thankfully she is well controlled in Presentation of the Rose Scene, and the duet is silkily beautiful.
Christa Ludwig is a mezzo "bigging up" to a dramatic soprano as she often did-she had been due to sing Brunnhilde for Karajan but withdrew realising it would destroy her voice. She is a most mellifluous Marschallin, not as sexy as Crespin, not as vulnerable as Watson on the live Kleiber and thankfully not as arch as Schwarzkopf who sings wonderfully and misses it entirely dramatically to my ears!
She is however dramatically very well pointed as a bored "aristo" tempted into naughtiness and who uses her considerable wits to resolve a series of tricky situations, and she sings beautifully of course.
Lucia Popp is sublime. Ernst Gutstein, a very fine Jokanaan on the Suitner Salome, is a very strong Faninal, a much stronger character than usual, and the rest of the cast is nothing less than excellent.

Walter Berry was an "eyebrows raised" choice as Ochs-surely his voice was too light? Not so, for he is the best characterised Ochs of all, sounding younger and more virile as Strauss intended (he is not an aged roué), with an authentic country accent aping a Viennese one (it is supposed to be like a Geordie accent aping a BBC Received Pronunciation if I may use that analogy without causing offence!), and his low notes are great.

I no longer find Bernstein too slow in some passages-that's probably my age-but many did on its release.
The biggest criticism was that Bernstein gives way to pure schmaltz at the expense of the more serious drama inherent in the libretto. So what? That's his view, and he treats it as a glorious naughty romp, where any shadows should be rapidly chased away!
It's not the only way to view this work-but it withstands once crucial test-is it enjoyable? The answer is an overwhelming YES!

So, if the antidote to the nervous excitement and high octane action of Solti, or the limpidly beautiful Karajan Vienna recording appeals, both available at mid-price, then this will fill the bill admirably. It is nicely presented with the LP cover reproduced in the manner of DG Originals, but there are no notes and no libretto, though one cannot complain at the price!

This brings us to the conclusion-I paid £5.99 for this reissue, though it has now crept up a few pence.
It is an EXTRAORDINARY bargain! At any price, this is a glorious Rosenkavalier, with some caveats to be sure, but such as these were they are swept away by the re-mastering and the paltry cost!
You would be mad to miss it!!! Unreservedly recommended!!! Stewart Crowe.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent transfer of this superb recording, 20 July 2014
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D. J. Baker "djb" (england) - See all my reviews
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Excellent transfer of this superb recording. It may not be the best recording (Gwyneth Jones is not right as Octavian) and there are cuts but at last each act is complete on a CD each (not the case in previous issues) and Bernstein and the VPO are magnificent.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A recording like this would not be possible today, 2 Aug 2014
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Yes, it has some flaws, and yes Jones is not an ideal Octavian, but this is a unique document, the testament of an era which has gone forever. A recording like this would not be possible today, as there are only celebrities around, not true stars - and they were all stars.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars well worth listening to, 14 Sep 2014
By 
Robert Gardiner (Harrow, Middx United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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The star of this performance is Lucia Popp, but many will find Bernstein's conducting over indulgent. I'm not convinced by Christa Ludwig's Marschallin (I have always liked Schwarzkopf in the role) and didn't enjoy Gwyneth Jones's Octavian much. Walter Berry is very good as Ochs. The Vienna Phil play sublimely and the recording is excellent. But ultimately this performance stands or falls on whether you are convinced by Bernstein's conducting. It's good to listen to once - but not a "library edition" as they say on radio 3. It has crept up to £7 at Amazon - but that still represents astonishing value.
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