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on 11 August 2007
This is a very satisfying account of 'Die Zauberflote', principally on account of Bohm's handling of the score. He inspires the Berlin Philharmonic to convey a Masonic 'gravitas' which is in keeping with the philosophy of Enlightenment Reason which lurks behind the pantomime elements of this unusual work. You will certainly find deliberate speeds here, which may not be to your taste if you like fleet,revisionist, original-instrument Mozart. Vocally it's the women in this recording that have had a bad press: but Evelyn Lear has some lovely tones in her voice even if there are occasions when Pamina's music presents her with challenges. If you want perfection in this part, go for Janowitz on the Klemperer recording (but be warned, that has no dialogue). Similarly you may feel that Klemperer's young Lucia Popp easily outclasses Roberta Peters as Queen of the Night. But Peters still has pin-point accuracy and presents Pamina's mother as an icy, calculating customer. It's all a matter of taste.
Klemperer's Sarastro on the other hand, Gottlob Frick (well-known for his brilliant Hagen in Solti's Gotterdammerung) is really having an off day, fluffing one of his lower notes in Act 1 seriously. Franz Crass on this recording, sounding younger than the average Sarastro, has all the notes and the firmness too.
Wunderlich's Tamino for Bohm has been praised to the skies and rightly so; Fischer-Dieskau's delightful Papageno is a winner as is his destined partner Lisa Otto as Papagena. Admittedly Bohm's Three Ladies are adequate rather than distinguished and it is a disappointment having female singers as the Three Boys (though they make a fair stab at it). Much depends on the kind of approach which suits you in this opera. For overall vision however this recording is still hard to beat. The sound is excellent and you are drawn into the semi-secret rituals of Mozart's late masterpiece in the German singspiel style.
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on 7 October 2017
Love this opera... and this one is a very good interpretation. The only tiny problem I found was the volumen is too low, you have to put the radio volume very high...
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on 19 December 2015
Wunderlich makes it for me Magic.
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 14 February 2016
I returned to this classic recording after an interval of many years to discover that yet again the passage of time and the lamentable demise in standards of singing have rendered it very much more attractive than I had remembered. The sound is excellent and although Böhm's conducting is not of the zingy-springy period style now de rigueur, he had a good pedigree in Mozart, including equally recommendable studio recordings of "Die Zauberflöte" and "Così fan tutte", both from 1955, and the splendid later, 1962 "Così", and the playing of the BPO is simply gorgeous.

You may find among the encomiums some weird and grouchy criticism of virtually every cast member here with the obvious exception of a flawless Wunderlich, whose performance as Tamino is perfection and cannot be bettered, even if Simoneau and Burrows do almost as well. Otherwise, there are brickbats fro everyone if you trawl through the reviews - but no-one can quite agree with anyone else who it is who has let the side down. Admittedly, the two principal ladies - with all due respect to a fellow reviewer who eccentrically opines that the First Lady has the most important female role in the opera - are not as good as Klemperer's, in a recording made the same year by EMI, when - imagine! - companies were vying with each other to issue top-rate operas, but There is no real sense in which Evelyn Lear or Roberta Peters fail to please as Pamina and The Queen respectively. Lear is occasionally shrill up top and a little below the note, and her voice is rather more mature than is ideal, but the middle notes are creamy and she sounds genuinely distraught, not just a tweety-bird. She is particularly good in the "Tamino mein"passage. The same goes for Roberta Peters who is light of tone but very accurate and genuinely exciting. Lisa Otto's pert and charming Papagena completes a lovely trio. Mozart sopranos of real quality abounded in the 50's and 60's : Wilma Lipp, Rita Streich, Cristina Deutekom and Edda Moser all did the Queen proud on disc, while Hilde Gueden, Maria Stader, Irma Seefried,Pilar Lorengar and Anneliese Rothenberger made delightful Paminas; I think Lear and Peters may hold their heads high in that distinguished crowd. Only Dorothea Röschmann today wears that mantle.

I warm more to D-F-D's Papageno; his voice was still smooth and mellow in 1964, without the barking or graininess which some over-singing in inadvisable roles to heavy for it imparted later.Not renowned for his humour, he nonetheless sounds light and witty without being too sophisticated; significantly, he never performed the role on stage. I simply love the warmth and resonance of Frantz Crass's mellifluous bass and cannot comprehend how anyone an call him "bored-sounding" or "lacking weight". True, he's no Talvela, but nobody is and you may hear that great Finn in partnership with James King as a starry pair of Armed Men. Come on, you grouches: these are great voices; just listen to the "Wir wandeln" quartet and float heavenwards.

And you get a printed libretto, too...
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on 6 August 2011
The Amazon price for this set isn't too bad. Böhm has a lovely interpretation. There's a golden, exquisite sound of the Berlin Philharmonic strings to depict an emotion of the joy of love. These aspects in this opera are important to me. This recording has the best male singers. Franz Crass is a great Sarastro. I really like Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau's jovial way of conveying Papageno's character. The most important aspect of this recording is Fritz Wunderlich's Tamino because he's got the most beautiful phrasing and an exquisite voice. Roberta Peters sings the Queen of the Night with demanding and aggressive emotions. Evelyn Lear is good as Pamina, though she's not stunning. This recording is much better than Böhm's earlier recording on Decca. The recording quality is better and it has a lot of the dialogue.
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on 2 March 2004
Nothing short of superb. The singers are brilliantly chosen, even though casting three such powerful ladies as the three boys (instead of three boys...) might seem a bit of an overkill (and if you want to be really gripy about it, I think Gottlob Frick is a better Sarastro than Franz Crass), but still, Fritz Wunderlich will never be surpassed as Tamino, and who better than Fischer-Dieskau as Papageno, even though the world never got to see him in this part on stage because of his height. If you are looking for a recording of the magic flute this should be your first choice. It's even out on bargain, so there is no contest.
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on 17 April 2012
Having seen the Opera and wanting to back it up with a CD that was consistent with what I saw I chose this version ( having read various reviews ...) and Yes I would recommend this for those who want to hear the real thing with the dialogue . This is Brilliant. It even includes the script which can easily be followed with annotation identifying where individual arias can be found quickly.
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on 24 March 2015
3.5 stars -- even though Fritz Wunderlich gives a six-star performance. I know it's the conventional wisdom, but his really is a piece of singing for the ages. Fischer-Dieskau's Papageno is wonderful too, but it's also available on the 10-years-older Fricsay recording, and that recording, which has pace, life, and energy is preferable to this one. I'm afraid that Bohm is the main problem -- his conducting is rhythmically alive and the sound is captured with attractive transparency, but it's just too slow. In fact, it's so slow that when you listen to Wunderlich in the scene with the speaker (Hans Hotter, good in the role), you realize that he's trying to push things along and bring some urgency to the proceedings, and it's kind of a shock. But soon we get to Sarastro's realm, and everything slows up again. To be fair, Wunderlich and Fischer-Dieskau are gifted enough to work expressively at this pace, and Friedrich Lenz (Monostatos) does OK too -- but the women's singing sounds labored and even, in Evelyn Lear's case, a bit unsure, and Franz Crass can't bring Sarastro to life. Greindl (for Fricsay) is preferable on both vocal and expressive grounds, as is Kurt Moll (for Haitink). And Haitink's women, Gruberova and Popp, are superior to Bohm's too -- in fact, that's the recording I would go to if you want something a bit more sedate than Fricsay, for it's beautifully sung and recorded (Jerusalem is Tamino), and it has the weight that Bohm likes without the deadening pace. If you want something historically informed, go for Abbado, with Pape, Strehl, Roschmann, and others.

I'm a Bohm fan usually -- his 1970's Beethoven set is superb, and his Bruckner and (other) Mozart are estimable -- but I'm afraid that this one just doesn't work for me. Will I keep it? Probably . . . but only for Wunderlich.
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on 9 March 2015
Still the best after all these years.

The achievement here is to bring to a recording fully realised three dimensional characters due to the vocal and interpretative gifts of this stellar cast. All the rest is a bonus: wonderful playing and conducting and a highly satisfactory sound quality from the golden age of analogue where "effects" and stereo soundstaging is sufficient and never exaggerated. Despite these mighty voices and the Berlin Philharmonic this never feels heavy and has a pleasing chamber quality.

But there is no such thing as a perfect La Flute Enchantee. Each generation merely catches a glimpse of this masterpiece from one or two angles the future will discover it anew for itself as surely as the selected aria "Die Holle Rache" by the Queen of the Night is impressed on the gold long playing record attached to the Voyager space probes whizzin out of our solar system and on to the nearest stars (in 20,000 years time!) will one day find fresh listeners. For example, one could say that Fritz Wunderlich's voice is too beautiful, or Fischer Dieskau is too intelligent for their roles....or James King and Martti Talvela make an unlikely pair of guards with their celebrity voices. But that would be nit picking.

What we have it seems to me is a record of great singers all in their prime. You will not hear a better Tamino, the challenged Prince, on record or live, given that Wunderlich soared like a brief meteor and died just at the point - as shown here where he easily creates drama in his singing - when his interpretative powers were beginning to match his unequalled voice; or a more superb Papageno the crazy bird catcher, in Fischer Dieskau who can lay on his craftiness, then shed the feathers in the duet "Bei Mannern.." and pull himself up to the full height that Mankind is capable, in a lieder singer's voice of simple affecting dignity and grace like no other baritone. Then there is the Pamina of Evelyn Lear where her aria of loss and desolation "Ach, ich fuhl's..." leaves an overwhelming impression of the dying swan alone with her vulnerable crystaline soprano of ethereal beauty. Again there is no competition on record. The Sarastro of Franz Crass - a hugely in demand and accomplished singer at the time - is satisfyingly weighty and burnished. The celebrated coloratura role of the Queen of the Night is expertly sung without that detached squeakiness in the top notes that marks many performances, neither with the dainty nimbleness and prettiness that is more appropriate to other operas. This is a Queen with real fire and bite. We can't see the redeeming features of Monostatos on stage that many actor-singers try to give to the role to compensate for his unrelieved nastiness - but given his pedigree on stage Friedrich Lenz would surely offer such in performance above the sharp execution of the role given here.

And for me the real bonus is its sheer unsentimentality...no Tolzer Knaben choristers here - the "boys" are sung by three regular sopranos and all the better for that. There is lots of "feeling" but no syrup. Just plenty of old fashioned standards of opera production that dispense with jazzed-up adaptations and weirdo distracting ideas swirling around regional or so-called "stars" from the pages of Gramophone clearly out of their depth in exacting roles.

All the participants in this recording were real stars.
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on 14 September 2014
The reviews ay that this is the benchmark performance of the magic flute, and as faar as I am concerned they are absolutely right. Brilliantly sung, with emotion as well as technique - and if you want to know how Mozart wanted to hear the Queen of the Night sung - this is the place to go.
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