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Something here not quite right.
on 24 July 2015
I would not want to dissent from the favourable comments of most – if not all – of the earlier reviews. I do, however, feel inclined to draw attention to a weakness that has become obvious to me, and compromises my appreciation of this, no doubt, estimable issue. The rub is the recording itself. I have come late to this performance, and listened to it with unexpected delight, except for one aspect (well, there were a few others, but not that they need to be referred to here). The problem is the recorded sound. It was obvious for the first, but I suspected it may have been purely subjective, so I ignored it – or tried to. But the more I listened, the more distracting it became. I left the discs for a day or two, and then returned to them, replaying Act 3. I found the same problem: a general lack of focus, and shifting perspectives. The lead voices are recessed, the orchestra, for all its evident beauty, veiled, and the overall transfer-level lower than ‘normal’. I decided to compare DG’s recording with Karajan – same orchestra, same venue, with just ten years between them. What a difference! The DG recording and transfer are in every way superior – clarity, focus, levels, perspectives,... the lot!
(Not to mention the Karajan’s performance – which I find preferable too, in every respect! But that’s another matter.)