Notes and Editorial Reviews
In its original (1926) version, Cardillac plays for a fast and furious hour and a half. The Wergo recording of this under Gerd Albrecht spreads the opera over two CDs, and despite its various virtues, this performance is not so decisively superior to the newly remastered DG set to win the contest on artistic grounds. DG's two discs each play for over 70 minutes. Neither recording offers the libretto in English, although Wergo do at least supply the full German text. All you get from DG is an adequate synopsis.
Cardillac, the goldsmith who is so attached to his creations that he kills their purchasers in order to repossess them, is a demonic figure, and this quality is conveyed with exceptional vividness by DG's Dietrich
Fischer-Dieskau. For Wergo, Siegmund Nimsgern has the advantage of a recording that gives the voice a more natural relationship to the orchestra, but he tends to sound petulant beside Fischer-Dieskau's commanding rhetoric. There is more refined singing in some of the supporting roles on the Wergo set—especially from Verena Schweizer as the daughter: but in general the opera—a problem piece, for all its dramatic grip—comes across as more brightly coloured and robustly characterized under Joseph Keilberth's strongly rhythmic direction.
DG also provide a tempting bonus with a substantial selection of extracts from Hindemith's later, very different operatic study of artistic obsession, Mathis der Maler, made 30 years ago. Fischer-Dieskau later took the title-role in a memorable recording of the complete opera for HMV, conducted by Rafael Kubelik (12/79—nla), but in this much earlier approach to the part he triumphantly conquers initial tendencies to vocal over-acting and presents a finely rounded portrait of Mathis's anguish and ultimate serenity. He is well supported by Pilar Lorengar and Donald Grobe, and although the sound shows its age this set as a whole earns enthusiastic recommendation.
-- Arnold Whittall, Gramophone [12/1991]
Works on This Recording
Cardillac, Op. 39 by Paul Hindemith
Karl [bass baritone] Kohn (Bass),
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (Baritone),
Willi Nett (Baritone),
Elisabeth Söderström (Soprano),
Eberhard Katz (Tenor),
Leonore Kirschstein (Soprano),
Donald Grobe (Tenor)
Cologne West German Radio Chorus,
Cologne West German Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century
Date of Recording: 06/1968
Venue: West German Radio Studios, Cologne
Length: 90 Minutes 32 Secs.
Notes: Composition written: Germany (1926).
Composition revised: USA (1952).
Mathis der Maler: Excerpt(s) by Paul Hindemith
Donald Grobe (Tenor),
Pilar Lorengar (Soprano),
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (Baritone)
Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1934-1935; Germany
Date of Recording: 11/1961
Venue: Jesus Christus Kirche, Berlin
Length: 57 Minutes 2 Secs.
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