Notes and Editorial Reviews
"What, then, are the most striking things about Karajan's new Figaro? Well, first of all, the listener will notice its unusual speeds. If the overture, as Beecham (was it?) once said, should time the boiling of an egg, then it seems that Karajan likes them decidely runny. I don't think I have ever heard it quite so fast. Every tempo on the first side is quick; but when you turn over, to Cherubino's aria (so often described as breathless) "Non so piu", you find this allegro vivace two-in-a-bar done surprisingly spaciously. In the first half of the opera many tempi are unconventional; not until the Second Act finale, where the relation of one to another needs such careful management (and that reduces the scope for variation from the norms), does Karajan conform...
...Miss Tomova-Sintov has a rich, glowing, spacious voice, with quite a large vibrato for Mozart—it is a fine instrument, and she conveys great dignity in her singing... The Cherubino, Frederica von Stade, is a model of clear and straightfoward singing... The two principal men are both impressive. José van Dam is an extremely precise singer, every note-length in Figaro's part being judged to a nicety and the music carefully placed and coloured. A really alert Figaro, this, with a strong sense of situation conveyed in all he sings—most of all in his Act 4 aria, where the cynicism and bitterness of the (wrongly) disillusioned Figaro invade his tone and give it a cutting edge, and again in the brief return to E flat in the finale where Figaro, with deep irony, sings amorous, serenade-like music as he imagines his new wife ecstatically enjoying the Count's embraces. The Count himself, Tom Krause, is also a strongly characterized reading. The voice is decidedly on the bass side of baritone, with plenty of weight and virility: splendid when he is taxing his wife at her supposed infidelity at the end of Act 2, still more so in his fine, poised account of "Vedrô, mentr'io sospiro", where the explosive consonants convey his rage, frustration and wounded social pride—here is a man born to rule, say these commanding tones, but threatened with being thwarted by his inferiors... And I do not think I have ever heard the Count's sexual urgency in the Act 4 finale come through so unmistakably..."
-- Stanley Sadie, Gramophone [9/1979]
reviewing the original LP release