Notes and Editorial Reviews
From Leonore (1805) to Fidelio (1814) there were three successive versions of Beethoven’s opera, only the last of which has been in the repertory since the 19th Century.
Going against tradition, René Jacobs has chosen to revive the earliest version, reworking the librettos and the spoken dialogue: a genuine tour de force, this still unknown Leonore forms an incomparable musical and dramatic structure requiring exemplary mastery on the part of both orchestra and singers. This landmark recording proves its case in every respect.
Jacobs writes a passionate note in the CD booklet championing 1805 as the best version of the opera. He then backs it up with a swift, dramatic musical performance. As in the past, the result often sounds like a young Klemperer with original instruments, never afraid to let wind, brass or drums speak their parts out as contributors to Beethoven’s dramatic timbre. It makes for a performance well prepared and cast with the lighter (but always agile) voices that Jacobs tends to favour.
As Jacobs and his singers present it, this is Beethoven’s opera as a descendant of the 18th-century Singspiel tradition, especially that of Mozart’s Entführung and Zauberflöte. His tempi are generally on the fast side, though the superb, crisp playing of the period-instrument Freiburg Baroque Orchestra ensures they never seem too hectic.
– Guardian (UK)