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Strauss: Friedenstag / Sinopoli, Voigt, Dohmen, Et Al

Release Date: 05/14/2002 
Label:  Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog #: 463494   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Richard Strauss
Performer:  Norbert KlesseDeborah VoigtAlberto DohmenJohan Botha,   ... 
Conductor:  Giuseppe Sinopoli
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Dresden StaatskapelleDresden State Opera Chorus
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 16 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

If it doesn't seem too awful, I'd like to quote background material on this opera from my own review of another recording, published here at ClassicsToday.com: "Friedenstag is probably Richard Strauss' least successful mature opera. Premiered in 1938 in Dresden, it was performed in Vienna in 1939 with Hitler in the audience. The plot, about the end of the Thirty Years War, is chock-filled with the type of fraudulent sentiment about peace (and following orders) the Nazis were so fond of; indeed, the 'powers that were' seem to have kept the opera alive for a couple of years until its almost dazzling lack of merit actually got the better of German and Austrian music lovers, who, Nazis or not,
Read more still had taste. Strauss himself referred to it as 'wearisome', he disliked Joseph Gregor's libretto (and was helped on it by Stefan Zweig, who could not openly work with Strauss because he was a Jew), and found the whole thing 'commonplace'. Indeed, the first half hour is duller than dirt and the final 20 minutes is lively but trite--which leaves us with about 25 minutes of exciting music, all of it focused around the Commandant's wife, Maria (the only character with a name--or a tune, for that matter), her attempts to convince her husband to turn away from war, and her eventual oath to die with him."

Maria's oath turns out to be unnecessary, by the way--the opera ends with a declaration of peace. Well, this recording--due to its superb singing, and moreso, its remarkable conducting and playing--has sold me a bit more on the last, celebratory segment of the work (which is truly, propagandistically stirring as performed here, even including the cheap, jingoistic references to the Lutheran hymn "Ein feste Burg"), but otherwise I stand on what I previously wrote.

Alfred Dohnen's portrayal of the Commandant is magnificent; his impeccable German diction and grand nobility of phrase and tone (almost) makes us respect this order-following leader. Deborah Voigt sings Maria's music as if she knows it's the score's only hope--she's in grand voice and works with the text to try to make it all believable. Johan Botha's turn as a Piedmontese soldier is nice and Jon Villars makes the most of the Town's mayor. But the star is the late Giuseppe Sinopoli, who leads it all with great conviction, raising his Dresden forces to great heights. The sound is glorious. This recording is the one to get. (In that other review I presumed we'd never hear a better performance; I was wrong.)
--Robert Levine, ClassicsToday.com Read less

Works on This Recording

Friedenstag, Op. 81 by Richard Strauss
Performer:  Norbert Klesse (Boy Soprano), Deborah Voigt (Soprano), Alberto Dohmen (Baritone),
Johan Botha (Tenor), Jon Villars (Tenor), Alfred Reiter (Bass),
Tom Martinsen (Tenor), Jochen Kupfer (Baritone), André Eckert (Bass),
Jurgen Commichau (Bass), Jochen Schmeckenbecher (Baritone), Matthias Henneberg (Tenor),
Attila Jun (Baritone), Sami Luttinen (Baritone), Sabine Brohm (Soprano),
Ekkehard Pansa (), Rafael Harnisch ()
Conductor:  Giuseppe Sinopoli
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Dresden Staatskapelle,  Dresden State Opera Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1935-1936; Germany 
Date of Recording: 09/1999 
Venue:  Lukas Church, Dresden, Germany 
Length: 75 Minutes 58 Secs. 
Language: German 

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