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Wagner: Der Fliegende Holländer / Böhm


Release Date: 06/12/2007 
Label:  Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog #: 000875402   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Richard Wagner
Performer:  Sieglinde WagnerHarald EkDame Gwyneth JonesThomas Stewart,   ... 
Conductor:  Karl Böhm
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Here is the reissue of yet another version of this work. It has much to commend it. First of all there is that sense of dedication heard in all the live recordings made at Bayreuth; it is in fact the third of four versions recorded there officially, not to mention many 'unofficial' sets deriving from Bavarian Radio broadcasts. Then there's the energetic, vivid, theatrical direction of Bohm, always the most direct of Wagnerians, bringing out all the visceral excitement of the score, even more so than Nelsson on the most recent Philips set from the same source. Bohm's version doesn't have the epic quality of Klemperer's magisterial account (EMI) that Deryck Cooke preferred in his original review, and which I admired on its recent reissue. Read more There's room for both readings. By the way, Bohm conducts the single-act version, which has for long been adopted at Bayreuth.

Vocally this performance doesn't quite equal the first Bayreuth set on Decca (5/52—nla), which ought to be reissued, but it has many virtues. Thomas Stewart, perhaps an underrated Wagnerian in his day (his worthwhile Sachs can now be heard on the recent Myto issue of a Die Meisteringer, recorded for the work's centenary in 1968, taken from DG tapes but for some reason never issued at the time), gives us a rough-hewn seaman, possibly lacking in that indefinable element of spiritual anguish (''Wie aus der Ferne'' wants inner torment in the voice). For the most he is equal, in tone and accents, to the severe demands of the part, though he tires towards the end of the duet with Senta. He is the peer of Adam (Klemperer) and superior, by virtue of better German, to Estes (Nelsson). Uhde on the Decca set is still without rival, apart from Hotter on a wartime Acanta set (nla). Jones, then at the start of her auspicious career at Bayreuth, is already unsteady and occasionally edgy when her tone comes under pressure, as DC pointed out, but she is as ever, willing to throw herself wholeheartedly into the role in hand. That, and her exquisite piano singing, make her portrayal significant, but Silja (Klemperer) is just as effective in that respect and much steadier; her shining tones are also ideal for the part.

In Ridderbusch, this DG version boasts one of the most impressive Dalands on disc; absolutely steady and warm in timbre but quite as colourful with the text as others. Esser, not the most pleasing of tenors, catches the agony of Erik and follows Wagner's injunction in not singing his role in a conventional way. Choir and orchestra are all one has come to expect from this source—listen to the start of the final scene (or Act 3 if you prefer it). The recording has the benefit of Bayreuth's excellent acoustics, which were here caught to perfection. Klemperer would still be my choice at mid-price—but he takes three CDs to Bohm's two. If you want the most economic version, I would certainly prefer this to the recently reissued Karajan (EMI).

Alan Blyth, GRAMOPHONE (8/1993) Review of reissue DG 437 710
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Works on This Recording

1. Der fliegende Holländer by Richard Wagner
Performer:  Sieglinde Wagner (Alto), Harald Ek (Tenor), Dame Gwyneth Jones (Soprano),
Thomas Stewart (Baritone), Hermin Esser (Tenor), Karl Ridderbusch (Bass)
Conductor:  Karl Böhm
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1841/1852; Germany 
Date of Recording: 1971 
Venue:  Festpielhaus, Bayreuth 
Language: German 

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