Notes and Editorial Reviews
This is a tough, unvarnished reading rather in the vein of the 1957 Fricsay (DG), which I reviewed in May. Both deny the romantic approach current during the first half of the century, concentrating on briskish speeds, incisive and lithe rhythms, giving prominence to the writing for wind—often revealingly so under Dohnanyi's baton. Listen to the way the flute suggests, in Pizarro's aria, a man unhinged by his obsession. Similarly in the Act 1 finale, itself brought off with every awkward line clear, you can hear all the important wind so evocative of the prisoners' last look at the daylight from which they are being driven by the Governor's iron hand.
Dohnanyi, always a musician extraordinary, has certainly observed anew
everything there is in the score, nothing less or more, and made certain we understand the unique characteristics of Beethoven's inspiration in terms of harmony and orchestration. That may leave us, as happened when he conducted the piece at Covent Garden, with too objective a reading of the whole, regretting the absence of that extra, universal message that arises from the most cogent interpretations. The drama unfolds in terms of the claustrophobia of the prison and the dark doings within, but we are left to form our own opinion of its meaning. A metaphysical or metaphorical reading is not intended. For that we must look elsewhere, but there we won't always find playing so accomplished, so confident as that offered here by the Vienna Philharmonic.
Decca are to be applauded for choosing a cast of singers, all of whom speak German fluently so that the dialogue, plenty of it, flows naturally. Producer Christopher Raeburn has seen to it that the sound is better balanced and wider ranging than on any other recording and that we feel the action of the theatre being unobtrusively depicted with just enough stage noises to simulate a performance in the theatre.
-- Alan Blyth, Gramophone [7/1993]
reviewing the original release of this title, Decca 436627
Works on This Recording
Fidelio, Op. 72 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Hartmut Welker (Baritone),
Ruth Ziesak (Soprano),
Kurt Rydl (Bass),
Josef Protschka (Tenor),
Gabriele Schnaut (Soprano),
Tom Krause (Baritone),
Uwe Heilmann (Tenor)
Christoph von Dohnányi
Vienna State Opera Chorus,
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Written: 1804/1814; Vienna, Austria
Length: 117 Minutes 27 Secs.
Notes: Composition written: Vienna, Austria (1804).
Composition revised: Vienna, Austria (1806).
Composition revised: Vienna, Austria (1814).
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