WGBH Radio WGBH Radio theclassicalstation.org

Strauss: Der Rosenkavalier / Pieczonka, Bychkov

Strauss / Pieczonka / Wiener Phil / Bychkov
Release Date: 10/31/2006 
Label:  Tdk   Catalog #: OPROKA  
Composer:  Richard Strauss
Performer:  Florian BoeschFranz GrundheberAngelika KirchschlagerFranz Hawlata,   ... 
Conductor:  Semyon Bychkov
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 3 Hours 21 Mins. 

This title is currently unavailable.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

R. STRAUSS Der Rosenkavalier Semyon Bychkov, cond; Adrianne Pieczonka ( Feldmarschallin ); Angelika Kirchschlager ( Octavian ); Miah Persson ( Sophie ); Franz Hawlata ( Baron Ochs ); Franz Grundheber ( Faninal ); Vienna PO; Vienna St Op Ch TDK DVWW-OPROKA Read more (2 DVDs: 201:00) Live: Salzburg 2004

Directed by Robert Carsen, this production from the 2004 Salzburg Festival was controversial for bringing the action forward about 120 years, from the Vienna of Maria-Theresa (who reigned from 1740 to 1780) to the period just prior to the outbreak of World War I. Aside from a rather knowing and superfluous reference to the latter conflagration, the change of era seems to do no harm and possibly some good. Inevitably, there are anomalies: the Rosenkavalier is described by the duenna as being dressed in silver from head to foot, but when he arrives he is wearing a formal uniform of black trousers, white jacket, white cape, and a gold belt. It feels odd for a hawker to propose bringing monkeys into the boudoir of a 20th-century Viennese noblewoman in order to amuse her. It may also be true that the Austrian class system was more rigidly defined by bloodlines in the 1700s. (But an obsession with family trees was certainly just as prevalent a hundred years later.)

The advantages strike me as threefold. The first concerns Baron Ochs: to present him as an 18th-century country boor draws on a specific vein of rustic humor that has long lost its immediacy. The fact is Ochs is too sexist and, with his threatening retinue, too dangerous to be a mere figure of fun. Hawlata plays him as a snide, swaggering Prussian officer—sacrificing the character’s charm to emphasize his cruelty. To my mind, it works, giving Sophie a real reason to be worried about her future and Octavian a stronger excuse to attack Ochs. Secondly, the Marschallin’s languid life of noble privilege is a prime aspect of a society soon to be changed forever by war: our hindsight illuminates her own personal dilemma. Thirdly, there is the integral artistic consideration of Strauss’s idiom: rather than writing a classical pastiche (as librettist Hugo von Hofmannsthal might have expected), Strauss crammed the score with waltzes and lush orchestration. To move Rosenkavalier into an era when Léhar was all the rage seems therefore apt. I was won over early, for when the curtain rises to reveal Octavian and the Marschallin in bed, the boy is enjoying a cigarette! (Not that we need any pointers as to what’s been going on after Strauss’s graphically pictorial prelude.)

Angelika Kirchschlager is a lovely singer and a subtle actress—we never see her lose focus by executing a sideways glance at the conductor—but there is no denying she is not a 17-year-old boy. The “trousers role” is harder to accept on close-up DVD than on stage, and harder to accept here than in Mozart, because in Der Rosenkavalier the soprano and mezzo spend a fair amount of time kissing passionately and rolling around on a bed. (That may be no obstacle to your enjoyment, of course.) Kirschschlager’s voice in its higher register is very similar to Pieczonka’s soprano, although on DVD that is of little consequence. Franz Hawlata is more bass-baritone than bass, leaving him a touch dry in very low passages, such as the end of act II. (I liked how his long, drawn out low F was finally silenced by taking a mouthful of caviar.)

Brian Large’s camerawork and editing is, as ever, sensible and practical—notably in act I, where he has a bedroom and two separate antechambers to deal with. The Vienna Philharmonic play as one, gloriously, and Bychkov demonstrates why he is sought after as an opera conductor, never pushing too hard or relaxing too much—the latter often a temptation in Strauss. An interesting production, then: well sung, beautifully played, and impressively captured on film. Hofmannsthal’s characters, with their various personal plights (especially the Marschallin’s dealing with the question of age), transcend all changes of time and location to achieve a universal resonance.

FANFARE: Phillip Scott
Die Feldmarschallin Fürstin Werdenberg - Adrianne Pieczonka
Der Baron Ochs auf Lerchenau - Franz Hawlata
Octavian - Angelika Kirchschlager
Herr von Faninal - Franz Grundheber
Sophie - Miah Persson
Jungfer Marianne Leitmetzerin - Ingrid Kaiserfeld
Valzacchi - Jeffrey Francis
Annina - Elena Batoukova
Ein Polizeikommissar - Florian Boesch
Der Haushofmeister bei der Marschallin - John Dickie
Der Haushofmeister bei Faninal - Michael Roider
Ein Notar - Peter Loehle
Ein Wirt - Markus Petsch
Ein Sänger - Piotr Beczala
Eine Modistin - Aleksandra Zamojska
Ein Tierhändler - Eberhard F. Lorenz

Sound: DD 5.1, DTS 5.1, PCM-STEREO
Aspect Ratio: 16:9
Region: 0 (all)
Subtitles: English, German, French, Italian, Spanish

Read less

Works on This Recording

Der Rosenkavalier, Op. 59 by Richard Strauss
Performer:  Florian Boesch (Baritone), Franz Grundheber (Baritone), Angelika Kirchschlager (Mezzo Soprano),
Franz Hawlata (Bass), Ingrid Kaiserfeld (Soprano), Adrianne Pieczonka (Soprano),
Miah Persson (Soprano), Jeffrey Francis (Tenor)
Conductor:  Semyon Bychkov
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1909-1910; Germany 

Customer Reviews

Be the first to review this title
Review This Title