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Berg: Wozzeck / Maderna, Blankenheim, Jurinac

Berg / Blankenheim / Haage / Pco / Maderna
Release Date: 04/24/2007 
Label:  Arthaus Musik   Catalog #: 101277  
Composer:  Alban Berg
Performer:  Hans SotinRichard CassillyToni BlankenheimSena Jurinac,   ... 
Conductor:  Bruno Maderna
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hamburg State Opera ChorusHamburg State Philharmonic Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Mono 
Length: 1 Hours 46 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Alban Berg - WOZZECK

Historical Studio Production from Hamburg State Opera, 1970
Sung in German

Wozzeck - Toni Blankenheim
Drum Major - Richard Cassilly
Andres - Peter Haage
Captain - Gerhard Unger
Doctor - Hans Sotin
Workman I - Kurt Moll
Workman II - Franz Grundheber
The Fool - Kurt Marschner
Marie - Sena Jurinac
Margret - Elizabeth Steiner

Chorus of the Hamburg State Opera
Hamburg Philharmonic State Orchestra
Bruno Maderna, conductor

Joachim Hess, TV director
Rolf Liebermann, artistic director

Picture format: NTSC 4:3 (Colour)
Sound format: Mono
Read more Region code: 0 (all)
Menu Languages: English, German, French, Spanish
Subtitle Languages: English, German, French, Spanish, Italian
Running time: 106 mins
No. of DVDs: 1

* In his autobiography Opera Years Rolf Liebermann wrote: "Of all the film versions of operas in which I was involved, my favourite has always been Wozzeck, mainly because the interpreters and location were so convincingly authentic." And true to form, this film adoption of Alban Berg's Wozzeck, recorded in 1970, fascinates with its constantly developing tension from the first tone to the last accord.
* Indeed the cast of this production is without doubt first rate, headed by Toni Blankenheim as Wozzeck and Sena Jurinac as Marie.


This film of Wozzeck was made in 1970 under the aegis of Rolf Liebermann, who was then the innovative General Director of the Hamburg State Opera. Filmed in and around a deserted castle, the atmosphere can practically be felt: the damp stone walls, the fetid-looking ponds, uninviting woods, and misty fields all add to this hideous story. Indeed, this film is the most effective performance of Wozzeck I've ever encountered. The claustrophobia of the setting becomes another character. Joachim Hess directed, and the characters' inner and outer lives--Wozzeck's confusion, suffering, and rage, the smug Captain, the detached, obviously crazy Doctor, the pitiable Marie, the swaggering Drum Major--are all crystal clear. The opera is filled with short, cinematic scenes; in fact, it is ideally suited to film. And during the many orchestral interludes between scenes, when we'd normally be looking at a descended curtain or a blank stage in the opera house, we often get ambience that is the visual equivalent of the music. Masterful.

The performances are glorious. Toni Blankenheim, in the title role, is quietly desperate. He never overacts or oversings. His role as a victim is complete because he can't quite grasp it and when he finally does snap it's horrendous and genuinely tragic. Sena Jurinac's great-looking Marie is a loving mother and a woman full of need, stuck in a world and relationship with little hope, and she sings every note, without shouting or undue histrionics. Hans Sotin's ramrod-straight, scornful Doctor is beautifully sung and truly terrifying. The Captain of Gerhard Unger is totally in-your-face (and he's filmed that way as well), unafraid of the weird, whistle-like high notes or his odd behavior.

All of the singers--who lip-synch almost unnoticeably--are also excellent actors. This is a production, a film, that gets to the psychology of this complex work like a laser-beam. Bruno Maderna's conducting is clear and clean; what we hear is what the camera registers, and he keeps the singers scrupulously close to the notes of the Sprechstimme, making certain that they are notes, indeed. The monaural sound is fine, and the picture I suspect is as clear as the directors wanted it to be, adding to the overall dankness. Don't miss this.

-- Robert Levine, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

Wozzeck, Op. 7 by Alban Berg
Performer:  Hans Sotin (Bass), Richard Cassilly (Tenor), Toni Blankenheim (Baritone),
Sena Jurinac (Soprano), Kurt Moll (Bass), Gerhard Unger (Tenor),
Peter Haage (Tenor), Franz Grundheber (Baritone), Kurt Marschner (Tenor),
Elisabeth Steiner (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Bruno Maderna
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hamburg State Opera Chorus,  Hamburg State Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1917-1922; Austria 
Date of Recording: 1970 

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