Customer Review

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally a recording from this magnificent artist of a complete work by Wagner though not the one you might expect! Superb!, 12 Feb. 2013
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This review is from: Wagner (Audio CD)
I could easily find this CD to be more of an irritation than anything else-yet another collection of excerpts from the finest tenor suited to Wagner in a generation, with until today no complete recording of any of the operas (I am excluding Blu-ray performances!). I`m not a fan of excerpts discs at the best of times, but with Kaufmann even the "well it's better than nothing" syndrome was beginning to wear thin. Fortunately all this is counteracted not only by my having received the new complete Gergiev Walkure to soften the blow, but this disc DOES finally contain a complete work, albeit not one intended for a tenor.
The excerpts from the operas are superb-we get the unexpurgated "In Fernem Land" from Lohengrin, a superb Rome Narration, excerpts from Rienzi and Meistersinger and snippets from Walkure and a tantalising Siegfried murmuring superbly in the forest (sorry!), all sung with the dark burnished tone and firm legato we have come to expect. As an aside, what a nonsense this makes of trying to build up Klaus Florian Vogt as a Heldentenor-I actually find his thin and feeble voiced attempts to be pathetic in comparison to Kaufmann.
The orchestra is full and rich-the former "German State Opera Berlin" Orchestra has a distinguished recording past with Wagner and beyond, with outstanding recordings under Konwitschny, Jochum, Maazel, Sinopoli and Thielemann to name but a few, and here is in magnificent form under another under employed great Wagner conductor in Scotland's own Donald Runnicles-would that the 2nd and 3rd rate recordings made by Pentatone under Janowski had used THIS orchestra and conductor as this very change would surely elevate them to first class!
The absolute GOLD of this recording is the Wesendonck Lieder performed for the first time to my hearing by a tenor. Wagner marked the score "For the female voice" but I have no doubt he would have applauded this performance.
I am open to hearing songs more normally associated with the female voice sung by a tenor-I treasure a recording of Jerusalem and Masur in Strauss Lieder, and Melchior in Schumann, but this is something else.
The smoky tones of his baritonal tenor are ideally suited to each song, with tenderness in Der Engel, you can almost feel the sultry heat in Im Triebhaus, Schmerzen is filled with tortured anguish and Traume has an erotic passion and sensuous line which bodes so well for any future assumption of Tristan-we can but hope!
It's a masterclass in great singing and artistry, with Runnicles and the orchestra caught in rich, radiant form and perfectly balanced-so not an irritation at all, then!!!!
This is by far the finest recording Kaufmann has made and it is destined to be a classic of the genre. A "must hear" for lovers of Wagner-and great music making. Unlimited Stars. Stewart Crowe
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Showing 1-8 of 8 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 12 Feb 2013 18:36:42 GMT
D. S. CROWE says:
I'm indebted to Stephen Kass-thanks Stephen-for pointing out that in my original wording I attributed the wonderful playing to the wrong orchestra-I can only defend myself by saying that I was in such a hurry to get the disc opened and played that I didn't read the label properly-or at all. No excuse. I have deleted and resubmitted it because I immediately attracted two Troll Votes no doubt from Janowski and Vogt admirers.
Stephen was "bowled over" in the face of such artistry and I could not have put it better myself! Best Regards, Stewart.

In reply to an earlier post on 13 Feb 2013 08:44:23 GMT
Last edited by the author on 13 Feb 2013 22:18:00 GMT
Ralph Moore says:
What malicious idiot would no-vote such an informative review? Some half-wit has placed a negative vote on every review here so far.

In reply to an earlier post on 13 Feb 2013 12:37:19 GMT
D. S. CROWE says:
There is a pro Janowski, pro Vogt lobby of course and i just couldn't help having a dig-and of course there is are both anti DSC and RM lobbies who are virulent and pernicious, so it's to be expected. I presume that the "No" vote means that this recording is no good!! " Nur eine waffe taugt"-ignore them! Thanks for the support as ever, S!

In reply to an earlier post on 13 Feb 2013 15:33:41 GMT
Stephen Kass says:
I wrote to you over a year ago to warn you about just how weak Vogt is. In the meantime he hasn ´t got better but is still being hyped. I cannot understand it. As far as Janowski ´s Wagner is concerned, I don´t find the performances all that bad. He had to use whatever singers were available and affordable. Part of the problem, in my opinion is the recorded sound. It is in SACD which means that it is extremely detailed and very spacious. But the singers all sound far away in the vast space of the Berlin
Philharmonie. They are only part of the situation, as it were. As a result their voices sound rather weaker than we are used to. They are not helped by the recording engineers. This is typical of a new and more modern recording philosophy and surround sound. The sound is more natural but maybe also less impressive. I have frequently commented on this phenomenon in the past. Recordings of the 1960s and 70s generally favour the singers to an extreme and unnatural degree. I often have the impression that the microphones then had sort of built-in "bathrooms" - echo chambers which magnified the voices. They were mostly recorded very close-up anyway with the orchestra much more in the background. So we today think: Wow, what singers! What a pity that such voices no longer exist. One striking example: the Bonynge "Rigoletto". The voices are favoured and "glorified" to an incredible extent. No one sounds like that in reality. My suspicion is that the Janowski performances were quite impressive live but rather distant and lacking in punch on CD.
It was nice hearing from you again, Stewart.

In reply to an earlier post on 13 Feb 2013 16:32:57 GMT
D. S. CROWE says:
Stephen, you may well have a point about recording techniques from a bygone era-though to be fair, THIS recording certainly favours the voice-but with regard to the Janowski cycle, we have heard these voices elsewhere, and in my case and I'm sure yours, actually in the concert hall and theatre-and they are no better I fear! My main gripe with Janowski's conducting is the way it is hyped as "revelatory" in so many quarters, where I just find it ranges from uninvolved through bland and perfunctory to outright misconceived for much of the time, though it is decent at others. He conducts a "decent" Tristan but goes off the boil for the end, which is a shame.
I'm recovering from a long and debilitating illness, my wife having major surgery and my Mother being totally dependent on me then passing away in August last year-music has gone some way to keeping me sane, as has the friendship and camaraderie of a few colleagues on amazon. It is good to hear from you too, Stephen. This disc is worth every penny for the whole of "In Fernem Land" and the Lieder alone-it's much more enjoyable than the complete Gergiev Walkure, which seems just wrong somehow!
As for Vogt, words fail me-I cannot understand him neing repeatedly cast in roles to which he is TOTALLy unsuited-the being praised for it!! have you heard Christian Elsner? Now he IS good.... Best Regards as Ever, Stewart

In reply to an earlier post on 13 Feb 2013 17:31:33 GMT
[Deleted by the author on 14 Feb 2013 15:10:47 GMT]

Posted on 22 Feb 2013 20:25:08 GMT
Martin says:
The Orchestra of Deutshe Oper Berlin is not as you say "the former "German State Opera Berlin" Orchestra" but the Orchstra of the former "Städtische Oper" wich equals City Opera. The State Opera is Barenboims house, Deutsche Staatsoper Unter den Linden, with the great Orchestra Staatskapelle Berlin. When Berlin was divided 1961(1945)-1989 Deutsche Oper was the opera of West Berlin and was the leading house of the city and one of the great ones in Europe - and got great fundings to prove that. Not so anymore, Deutsche Oper is now a house more or less in decline. The orchestra is still good though and and the scotsman is capable to lead some bleeding chunks, but a whole Wagner opera? I think not.
Kaufmann is great as usual, so no disapponitment here.

In reply to an earlier post on 22 Feb 2013 20:40:07 GMT
Last edited by the author on 22 Feb 2013 20:42:04 GMT
D. S. CROWE says:
Martin. Wrong on all counts. The orchestra was referred to in English as the German State Opera Berlin to differentiate it from the OTHER State Opera, the former Staatskapelle now so renamed, which was the Walter Felsenstein later Harry Kupfer house, which WE called Unter den Linden, but the DDR called State Opera. Runnicles is a SUPERB Wagnerian, as recordings from his long tenure in San Francisco reveal. I saw him conduct the Ring twice and Parsifal once in Vienna and they were all superb. Try his disc of excerpts with the Dresdner Staatskapelle .SC.
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