Notes and Editorial Reviews
Klemperer's magisterial interpretation of this work has been unavailable in any form for far too long so that its reissue is most welcome. It has a deal in common with the Karajan/EMI set (not currently available) in treating the work symphonically. This is something of a contrast with the Bayreuth/Philips version under Woldemar Nelsson listed above, which employs faster speeds and a more dynamic view of the score like the famous 1955 Keilberth/Decca set from Bayreuth which should, like the Klemperer, be reissued at medium price.
As ever, Klemperer by and large justifies some moderate tempos by the way in which he sustains line and emphasizes detail. Only once or twice—in the Spinning and Sailors choruses—did I sense, on
listening to the set again, a want of propulsion. Otherwise there is throughout what Alec Robertson, back in 1968, called a "blazing intensity" to the reading that brooks no denial. The storm and sea music in the Overture and thereafter is given stunning power, and the Dutchman's torture and passion is evoked in the orchestra—the accompaniment to his long monologue has both inner depth and finely realized detail. Indeed, the playing of the New Philharmonia, forwardly recorded in Studio No. 1 at Abbey Road, is a bonus throughout. Klemperer catches as convincingly as anyone the elemental feeling of the work, the sense of the sea, basic passions and the interplay of character unerringly adumbrated.
There have been few baritones before or since Theo Adam who have sustained the line of the role so well and so intelligently reached the heart of the matter where the text is concerned, Uhde certainly achieved as much on the old Decca and, of course, Hotter on the wartime Krauss version, intermittently available on LP. Jose van Dam on the Karajan sings more beautifully but doesn't convey so much of the role's anguish. Estes for Nelsson is stolid by comparison. As at the concert performance that was given concurrently with this recording, Adam seemed inspired by Klemperer to give of his considerable best, and I found the results profoundly moving. Silja's bright, sometimes piercing timbre isn't to everyone's taste, but she is certainly easier to listen to than either Karajan's or Nelsson's Senta, and sings with just as much if not more conviction as Balslev (Nelsson). To quote AR again: "Hers is a most moving portrayal of trust and loyalty and love unto death, the interpretation of an outstanding singing-actress".
Martti Talvela was in his absolute prime in 1968. Singing magnificently and suggesting a formidable presence, he is a bluff, burly Daland. Ernst Kozub was then the white hope for a new Heldentenor, but died too young to fulfil his potential. His Erik has its clumsy moments but one admires the shining tone, and Kozub evinces sympathy for the character in Erik's the Third Act cavatina. Gerhard Unger offers an ardent, cleanly articulated Sailor. Annelies Burmeister is a ripe Mary. The BBC Chorus is not the equal of its Bayreuth counterpart on either the Keilberth or Nelsson sets, but is none the less very much in the picture. The set was carefully produced in the placing of voices against the instruments and the provision of stage effects (breaking waves, spinning wheels, howling winds etc) without these becoming unduly intrusive. The overall sound is a shade on the dry side, but better that than the excessive reverberation on so many opera sets today. This has now to be the recommended version of the work.
-- A.B., Gramophone [2/1990]
Reviewing earlier release
Works on This Recording
Der fliegende Holländer by Richard Wagner
Theo Adam (Bass Baritone),
Anja Silja (Soprano),
Martti Talvela (Bass),
Ernst Kozub (Tenor),
Annelies Burmeister (Mezzo Soprano),
Gerhard Unger (Tenor)
New Philharmonia Orchestra,
Written: 1841/1852; Germany
Date of Recording: 1968
Venue: EMI Abbey Road Studio No. 1, London
Length: 152 Minutes 11 Secs.
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