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Wagner: Der Fliegende Holländer CD

4.3 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Performer: José Van Dam, Dunja Vejzovic, Kurt Moll, Peter Hofmann
  • Orchestra: Vienna State Opera Chorus, Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Conductor: Herbert von Karajan
  • Composer: Richard Wagner
  • Audio CD (5 April 1993)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Opera
  • ASIN: B000002S4R
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 160,374 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Product Description

KARAJAN HERBERT VON / BERLIN P

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on 3 April 2001
Format: Audio CD
I bought this CD set yesterday and have spent late last night and this morning wrapped up in listening to it. This is quite simply one of the most incredible operatic recordings I've ever heard. Few conductors have such a strong association with a particular orchestra as did Herbert von Karajan with the Berliner Philharmoniker. His mastery of their sound is heard in this recording from the opening refrains of the very familiar overture to the amazingly climactic conclusion.
The Flying Dutchman is written without intermission, and that's exactly how you'll want to listen to this recording. This is my fourth recording of the Flying Dutchman (the others being Solti, Nelsson, and Böhm), and naturally the first thing I did was to listen to a few highlights of this recording to compare it with those that I already had. Apart from the overture, the Karajan recording did not really hold up that well under this comparison. I heard van Dam and thought, 'he's a little to soft or quiet for the Dutchman', I heard Vejzovic and thought, 'why is a mezzo singing this part?'. Later in the evening I decided to listen at least to all of act one.
Everything (except for Peter Hofmann) was in place. The Dutchman's celebrated narration "Die Frist ist um" is unlike any other I've heard. Van Dam's voice has a naturally beautiful timbre, and he emphasises legato. This takes a few minutes to get used to (one always has in mind a more dramatic approach from the start: Simon Estes on the Nelsson recording, for example, is tense and taut from the first word to the last) but what comes across is an incredibly human potrayal of a real man caught in this terrible fate of never finding rest.
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Format: Audio CD
Previous reviewers have already more than adequately covered the flaws and virtues of this recording, so I'll simply provide an easy-reference résumé. Its troubled genesis,necessitating that it be made over three years shuttling between Berlin and Salzburg, is not necessarily apparent in any sense of discontinuity or fragmentation but might partially account for the sense that two normally involved and sensitive singers like José van Dam and Kurt Moll give the impression of phoning in their interpretations. They both have beautiful voices but both are too refined and subdued to fufil the requirements of characterisation and as such come close to being dull dogs in comparison with distinguished Dutchmen predecessors such as Hermann Uhde or George London, or the genial Martti Talvela as Daland. Nonetheless, I still listen to van Dam with great pleasure; he is such an intelligent artist.

The conducting and orchestral playing are undoubtedly superb but too often the imbalances in the slightly harsh digital sound,with its over-resonant acoustic, result in the singers being overwhelmed, as can happen in stage performances. The choir is good but a bit thin and it doesn't generate as much excitement as it should; I had to smile at the reviewer who aptly complains that the "Summ' und brunn'" chorus sounds more like G & S than Wagner, it is so twee and polite.

After those few kind words, it's down hill all the way. Dunja Vejzovic is dreadful as Senta: wavery, tremulous and unsteady, the voice lacking all heft and tonal centre. She screeches high notes and fudges passage meant to be in a sustained lower register; this explains the sad brevity of her carer and her rapid disappearance from the international scene.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
It is so fantastic to listen to. The voices, the music, the conductor's understanding - it is the best. I can only recommend it to all Wagner lovers. We all have our favorites, but this takes the premium.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 3.7 out of 5 stars 10 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Electrifying Karajan....subdued voices 13 Oct. 2005
By W. Pender - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I can't help myself... Karajan just does it for me. He's not for everyone, but I've heard too many wonderful works of his to every doubt he's a conducting genious. This "Hollander" is no exception. An underrated work, to be sure. Karajan outdoes himself with a lavish performance and the Berliner Philharmonic was never better. The only reason I didn't give this recording a '5' is that the voices are far subdued in some passages, almost to the point of being inaudible. The voices are quite satisfactory, though probably not a 'premier' cast. I'm quite pleased with this edition and I highly recommend it for any Karajan fan.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Wagner with a hole in the middle 17 Dec. 2015
By Ralph Moore - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Previous reviewers have already more than adequately covered the flaws and virtues of this recording, so I'll simply provide an easy-reference résumé. Its troubled genesis,necessitating that it be made over three years shuttling between Berlin and Salzburg, is not necessarily apparent in any sense of discontinuity or fragmentation but might partially account for the sense that two normally involved and sensitive singers like José van Dam and Kurt Moll give the impression of phoning in their interpretations. They both have beautiful voices but both are too refined and subdued to fufil the requirements of characterisation and as such come close to being dull dogs in comparison with distinguished Dutchmen predecessors such as Hermann Uhde or George London, or the genial Martti Talvela as Daland. Nonetheless, I still listen to van Dam with great pleasure; he is such an intelligent artist.

The conducting and orchestral playing are undoubtedly superb but too often the imbalances in the slightly harsh digital sound,with its over-resonant acoustic, result in the singers being overwhelmed, as can happen in stage performances. The choir is good but a bit thin and it doesn't generate as much excitement as it should; I had to smile at the reviewer who aptly complains that the "Summ' und brunn'" chorus sounds more like G & S than Wagner, it is so twee and polite.

After those few kind words, it's down hill all the way. Dunja Vejzovic is dreadful as Senta: wavery, tremulous and unsteady, the voice lacking all heft and tonal centre. She screeches high notes and fudges passage meant to be in a sustained lower register; this explains the sad brevity of her carer and her rapid disappearance from the international scene. You have only to compare her with Astrid Varnay in her prime to hear the difference, but other Sentas such as Silja, Rysanek or even Janis Martin for Solti will do as well to confirm her inadequacy. Peter Hofmann is coarse and bleating as Erik - that most cursed of Wagnerian tenor roles - and he is matched in wobbliness by Thomas Moser, on the brink of a long career during which he murdered more tenor parts than I care to enumerate.

Ultimately what we have is a great instrumental account let down by poor singing. Having listened to this back-to-back with the Solti set from a few years earlier, I can in all conscience advise you to prefer that to what essentially amounts to a failure in comparison with Karajan's many resounding successes.
4.0 out of 5 stars A very good Flying Dutchman. 5 Dec. 2015
By Boz - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I like this recording very much. Van Dam, Moll, and Vejzovic are all very good. Peter Hofmann is wonderful. He was a fine heldentenor. The supporting cast and chorus are very good. Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic are brilliant.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Quoting Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau:"In Wagner's works, we singers are privileged to accompany the orchestra". 17 Jan. 2014
By Abert - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Der fliegende Hollander is an early work by Richard Wagner, and thus an excellent 'entrance ticket' for operaphilles unfamiliar with this great composer's works.
I did not obtain my entry ticket to Wagner with this opera, but with the Ring Cycle.
Stylistically this early work is more akin to Lohengrin than the Ring, for sure. It is also one of the shortest of Wagner's operas, but it is a brilliant work from the Vorspiel right to the very end.
As other lead reviewers have already so succintly pointed out, HvK recorded an orchestra-dominated piece here. Certainly Der fliegende Hollander contains wonderful orchestrations and ensembles. The very Vorspiel is a tremendously vivid and dramatic piece of work that finds great favour with concert conductors. This recording, with the BPO, offers one of the most ear-ringing renditions of this marvellous piece.
Having said that, the sadder news are that as the opera progresses, the drama gradually got dimmer and dimmer, beginning from the still distinctive ode of the steersman, we hear less and less drama in the vocalists' performances, and regrettably the highly eerie and tragic entrance of the Hollander is not nearly as dramatic an event as would have been in the cases of several other top recordings.
I have to agree with other reviewers on the generally even but nearly always average vocal performance. The accoustics did not help a single bit.
It often happened with HvK in the early 1980's - he seemed to have focused much more on orchestration than the vocal outputs, both in terms of quality and volume. His ditigal 'Die Zauberflote', his 'Turandot', to name just two of the glaring examples of such technical imbalance between orchestra and soloists.
The choruses, however, fared much better, for HvK was able to maintain a beautiful sound balance between the male and female choruses and the orchestra. The soloists fared much worse.
The soloists are not so favoured, alas. In the titlerole, the great Jose van Dam gave an expert but immemorable performance. So is the great Kurt Moll. Vejzovic's Senta is no comparison with Behrens (for von Dohnanyi), and Peter Hofmann's Erik is serviceable.
Of course, there remains Wagner's great orchestration, and as the late Fischer-Dieskau once said, singers are often privileged in being allowed to accompany the orchestra in Wagner.
So be it.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A memento of Karajan's orchestral mastery, but his singers fail him 24 May 2006
By Santa Fe Listener - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
There's not much to add to the perceptive reviews listed below. Karajan's 1980s Flying Dutchman was a troubled project, like his Lohengrin. Both suffer from casting problems and both took years before he allowed their release. I suppose he wanted every major Wagner opera to be included in his recorded legacy, and so far as the condcuting goes, this is the best Flying Durchman recorded in the modern era (along with the Klemperer, also on EMI and afflicted with inadequate voices). The Overture is hair-raising, and the Berlin Phil. plays with extraordinary power throughout.

Mention should be made of the excellent chorus--both the women's Spinning Chorus and the men's more extensive sailors' choruses are highlights of this set. Karajan favored Jose Van Dam for almost two decades, but here his expert singing is defeated by an inability to sound tragic or even very personal. His baritonal timbre is too light for this quintessentially bass role. Senta, as sung by Vejzovic, is squawly and ill-tempered, more an Ortrud than a Senta. She sings without vibrato and is often just off pitch. Peter Hoffmann sounds weak and wobbbly as Erik. Even Kurt Moll makes for a sonorous but dull-witted Daland.

Yet no one but the Senta is a disaster, and even if the listener comes away with a case of "what might have been," Karajan's contribution is magnificent.
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