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Customer reviews

5.0 out of 5 stars
5.0 out of 5 stars
Weber: Der Freischutz
Format: Audio CD|Change
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on 7 August 2011
This is to my mind the best available recording of this evergreen classic.It has superb singing and great conducting and is in good sound for its vintage.
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on 11 November 2012
There are some great reviews for this recording of Der Freischutz under its previous edition, but as there are none for this re-release I wanted to add a few words of encouragement.

At first I was put off by Schock as Max, too heavy I thought - but he soon won me over. He fills the role far better than the lighter-voiced Schreier in the Kleiber recording, or Gedda in the Heger recording, or Araiza under Davis.

Grummer has a strange voice, it's distinctly thin in the upper range but it doesn't seem to matter. (An odd comparison you may think but I feel the same about Tito Schipa). She brings a melancholic warmth to Agathe and her aria in Act II is delicious.

The star for me is Karl Christian Kohn. He has a big voice with great presence, and enjoys his portrayal of the evil, scheming Kaspar. His dialogue is tremendous - an real actor, who hisses his calls for Samiel and sends a shiver up your back.

Keilberth and the Berlin Philharmonic make Weber sound like Verdi - I meant totally positively. The casting of the bullets at the end of Act II is goose pimple scary. The 1958 sound is terrific and the supporting cast of Otto, a young Prey and Frick are top notch.

I would say, all round, it's the best recording out there.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 25 February 2012
I compare these two recordings for several main reasons: they usually head the field in recommendations for the best version to buy; they were the first two I heard, almost simultaneously, when as an teenager I was first becoming enraptured by opera; lastly, I happen to own and play both and listen to them with pretty much equal enjoyment. Neither is perfect but they certainly do justice to this wonderful period-piece which made the sadly short-lived Weber famous throughout Europe.

I first heard the Wolf's Glen scene in an EMI sampler LP of operatic highlights and still feel that it is the most atmospheric ever recorded - better than the Kleiber version which, although still effective, doesn't quite capture the Gothic chill and has a rather ordinary-voiced Samiel compared with the hard, abrasive Fritz Hoppe for Keilberth. Where Kleiber particularly scores is in the crowd scenes with the dances and choruses. It was a on a remainder bin LP - only the first LP of the set - that I heard his overture and the opening scene with its natural-sounding crowd noises, mocking laughter and galumphing peasants struck me as enormously invigorating music-making; Kleiber takes the whole thing at a clip and really injects life into proceedings. Keilberth is steadier and more staid, with the grander-sounding BPO but his is also an affectionate and beautifully played account.

I give Kleiber five stars even though I readily admit an antipathy to Peter Schreier's throaty, nasal tenor. I really cannot comprehend how some find his pinched voice beautiful but he is impassioned and characterful here, sounding really desperate as Max, so I let it pass. Schock has a more conventionally baritonal heroic tenor and sings agreeably if a tad blandly. Dramatic verisimilitude is enhanced by the fact that Keilberth's singers deliver their own dialogue whereas for Kleiber a very truncated script is employed and actors are used, with the usual mismatch between singing and speaking voices. That abridgement also means that some famous lines are cut, such as that quoted by Bismarck in the Reichstag in 1849: "Glaubst du, dieser Adler sei dir geschenkt?" ("Do you think you get this eagle for nothing?").

Regarding the leading ladies in both versions, all are superb. There is little to choose between two of the loveliest German post-war sopranos in Elisabeth Grümmer and Gundula Janowitz, both of whom were lyric sopranos who could sing the lighter Wagner roles and to whose silvery voices I could listen all night. Both Lisa Otto and Edith Mathis are delightful as Ännchen. I prefer Karl Christian Kohn's mostly focused, black-voiced Kaspar for Keilberth to Theo Adam (sometimes unkindly known by his non-admirers as "Mr Wobble", but passable for Kleiber). Both hermits are impressive, even if a younger-voiced Franz Crass is steadier than the veteran Gottlob Frick - but both bring the requisite kindly gravitas to the role. The Leipzig chorus is livelier and interpretatively freer than the more "operatic" Berliners; the latter are less animated in their hailing of Kilian and barracking of Max but only comparatively speaking and they respond credibly in little incidents such as when Max draws a knife on Kilian. Both conductors relish the Bauer element in the music. There are a few clumsy tape edits on the EMI recording and its 1958 stereo sound, although fine, is less immediate than the fuller but slightly toppy DG recording from 1973.

I cannot choose between these two admirable versions but can endorse both as excellent, faithful renditions which do honour to a seminal German opera.
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on 17 November 2011
I have had this recording in my collection since the seventies, first as a Seraphim reissue, then on CD. To my mind it is the best of the recordings, including the venerable Kleiber. The ably lead Heger(also on EMI) is notable for Nilsson and especially Gedda, but this is still all around better.

First of all, it has Elizabeth Grummer, Rudi Schock and Karl Kohn. Great vocalists all. The Wolfs Glen scene is the most vivid and thrilling of all the recordings. And Keilberth leads a taut, Berlin Phil. The dialogue is delivered with spirit and timing(actors or singers doing the parts?).Satisfying late 50s sound. Highly recommended. One understands Berlioz reverence for this daring, influential opera.
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on 8 July 2015
I have not yet heard the cds, but based on the original lps this is a recording classic with a wonderful elizabeth grummer,.
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on 6 December 2015
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