Notes and Editorial Reviews
Marek Janowski, cond; Klaus Florian Vogt
(Friedrich von Telramund);
PENTATONE PTC 5186 403 (3 SACDs: 200:30) Live: Berlin 11/12/2011
the fourth SACD to be issued in PentaTone’s ongoing Wagner project, has a lot going for it. There’s a superbly prepared chorus (in what is, arguably, the composer’s most choral opera), excellent orchestral execution, top-notch audio quality, and the best current Lohengrin in the business. If, in the final analysis, this concert performance of November 12, 2011, is less exceptional than its predecessors, it’s still a winner and Wagnerites who have been acquiring the exquisitely packaged series won’t consider this one to be deadwood in any way.
Unlike the first three releases in PentaTone’s series that feature many of the world’s best-known Wagner singers, this performance casts a number of younger artists who clearly have promising careers ahead of them. Best is Günther Groissböck, born in 1976, who renders King Henry with a commanding, heroic deep bass that reminds us that the Brabant sovereign is no doddering King Marke. Groissböck, a student of Robert Holl and José van Dam, appeared as Hermann in a video
that starred Peter Siefert. (I haven’t seen it, though perhaps I should, as Groissböck has been featured on a website called “Barihunks” that presents photos of buff operatic baritones, frequently in tight T-shirts. I’m not making this up, as Anna Russell would have said.) Annette Dasch, also born in 1976, has excelled most visibly in Mozart, but did sing Elsa opposite Klaus Florian Vogt at Bayreuth. Dasch is especially effective in act III as she presses Lohengrin for his background info. Gerd Grochowski, the Friedrich, has the most impressive Wagnerian résumé, having sung Telramund at Covent Garden, Gunther at Salzburg and San Francisco, and Kuwenal at the Met. Here, his voice, while possessing adequate heft, is undistinguished texturally. The best Telramunds—Fischer-Dieskau, for example—elicit sympathy rather than scorn. Susanne Resmark, as Ortrud—surely Wagner’s most sociopathic baddy after Hagen—doesn’t seem sufficiently manipulative and she does get a bit squally in her final outburst.
Those familiar with Vogt’s Lohengrin from the Opus Arte Blu-ray/DVD—a terrific Nikolaus Lehnoff production conducted by Kent Nagano—will know what to expect: supremely secure, artfully inflected, profoundly lyrical, but well-supported vocalism that captures both the heroic and otherworldly nature of the title character. Marek Janowski continues to grow on me as a Wagner conductor. As usual, he moves things along smartly. The prelude to act III is suitably celebratory; the introduction to the opera’s final scene is thrilling. PentaTone, as always, presents robust, impactful sounds. The recording is gratifyingly rich timbrally—voices, of course, but instrumental colors as well: the low-register cello line at the outset of act II, followed by the unique sonority of English horn playing in unison with bass clarinet. The bridal chorus is first heard at quite a distance and then approaches; I’m not sure if this was actually experienced as such in concert, or if it was an after-the-fact doctoring of the recording.
FANFARE: Andrew Quint Read less
Works on This Recording
Lohengrin by Richard Wagner
Susanne Resmark (Alto),
Gerd Grochowski (Bass),
Klaus Florian Vogt (Tenor),
Günther Groissböck (Baritone),
Annette Dasch (Soprano),
Markus Brück (Baritone)
Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra,
Berlin Radio Chorus
Written: 1846-1847; Germany
Date of Recording: Live 11/12/2011
Venue: Philharmonie, Berlin
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