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Busoni: Doktor Faust / Leitner, Fischer-Dieskau

Release Date: 04/06/1989 
Label:  Dg 20th Century Classics Catalog #: 427413   Spars Code: ADD 
Composer:  Ferruccio Busoni
Performer:  Hildegard HillebrechtAnton de RidderKarl [bass baritone] KohnManfred Schmidt,   ... 
Conductor:  Ferdinand Leitner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bavarian Radio Symphony OrchestraBavarian Radio Chorus
Number of Discs: 3 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 2 Hours 36 Mins. 

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This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

Fischer-Dieskau's stature as a great singing actor was never more apparent than in the role of Faust, yet this performance is marred by carelessness. Hildegard Hillebrecht's tentative portrayal of the Duchess of Parma is soured by uncertain intonation. Numerous small cuts have been taken. Confirming the impression of a production hastily scratched together, the libretto of this most old-masterly and quintessential of Busoni's works is prefaced with a photograph of the composer at nineteen! And in the two decades since this recording was made, Busoni's sketches for the final scene have come to light and been realized by Antony Beaumont—a conclusion, shall we say, dramatically different from the Jarnach completion heard here (for details, see Read more Beaumont's Busoni the Composer, reviewed in Fanfare 11:1, p. 465ff.). Beaumont's edition, by the way, was used for the highly successful 1986 London revival of Doktor Faust, staged in Berlin the following year— performances which allowed but one small and justified cut, from the Parmesan festivities. One can only hope that, failing another and more thorough commercial recording, some intrepid pirate will make the Berlin performances available. With such a document in hand, however, the present recording would still be indispensable not only for Fischer-Dieskau's Faust but for the superb Mephistopheles of William Cochran—performances unlikely to be equaled. And if Leitner is a bit rough and ready, he at least escapes the air of careful exhumation which dogged Mark Elder's direction of the London revival, as well as demonstrating a more consistent penetration of the score—in both its contemplative “Faustian“ language and its Berliozian rapidity—than Sir Adrian Boult (on the evidence of broadcast tapes), who is sometimes cited as one of its most notable exponents. Though in minuscule type, the inclusion of a German/English libretto betters the synopsis-accompanied SD reissue of some half-a-dozen years ago (DG Collector's Series 2740 273, Fanfare 7:3, p. 11 Off.). And with forty access points spread over three discs, this recording may be said to be extensively cued. Sound—clear and detailed with voices prominent—is identical to the original SD pressings (DG 2709 032), though the appreciably higher dynamic starting point of the CDs carries a nimbus of tape hiss which can be intrusive in more sombre passages.

Now, gentlemen, may we have the scintillant 1956 Glyndebourne Festival Arlecchino— available long ago as RCA LM 1944—on perdurable silver?

-- Adrian Corleonis, FANFARE [1/1990]

Leitner leads an inspired performance, though the playing, while more than adequate, is seldom first-rate. One recalls ruefully that the premiere was conducted by Fritz Busch and that subsequent performances in Berlin, led bv Leo Blech, were sung by Friedrich Schorr (Faust), Frieda Leider (the Duchess), and Fritz Soot (Mephistopheles). In any case, the present album falls into the category of the flawed but indispensable and you are best advised to get it while you can. The discs are identical with those of the 1970 release—voices prominent, detail generally clear if not as close as one might wish, on silent surfaces.

-- Adrian Corleonis, FANFARE [1/1984]
reviewing an LP release of this recording Read less

Works on This Recording

Doktor Faust, K 303 by Ferruccio Busoni
Performer:  Hildegard Hillebrecht (Soprano), Anton de Ridder (Tenor), Karl [bass baritone] Kohn (Baritone),
Manfred Schmidt (Tenor), Franz Grundheber (Baritone), Hans Sotin (Baritone),
Marius Rintzler (Baritone), William Cochran (Tenor), Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (Baritone)
Conductor:  Ferdinand Leitner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Bavarian Radio Chorus
Period: 20th Century 
Written: circa 1924; Berlin, Germany 
Date of Recording: 05/1969 
Venue:  Residenz, Herkulessaal, Munich 
Length: 155 Minutes 38 Secs. 
Language: German 

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