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Thread: Richard Strauss on CD, DVD, and Blu-ray

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    Senior Member Elgarian's Avatar
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    Default Richard Strauss on CD, DVD, and Blu-ray



    This arrived today, and I couldn't help taking a quick look at it. Well, from the start I knew it was going to be special, and it was blindingly obvious why people talk about Kleiber's conducting of this. The orchestral playing is like quicksilver. It leaps, it swoops, it flows, it trills, it bubbles, and it tears at heartstrings. Really, the orchestral playing is a wonderful component of this recording. So my 'quick look' turned into watching a large chunk of Act 1; and it was so good - so very, very good, that I couldn't resist doing a sneak preview of the Presentation of the Rose, and the final trio and duet, just to see what they were like (I'd seen them on Youtube, but in poor quality).

    (Gaston - to cut a long story short: just get one. OK?)

    Fassbaender is a fantastic Octavian. Boyish, with a certain sandpaperiness to her voice which is quite perfect for the role. Her acting is superb. When she passes over the rose and sees Sophie, the look on her face, the arm movements, her stance, all show her amazement at what's happening to her (him, that is). In Act 1, the play between her and the Marschallin just bubbles with delight. Gwyneth Jones is a stunning Marschallin - utterly convincing - playful with Octavian at the beginning, and nobly, quietly, tragic at the end. Lucia Popp sings Sophie so beautifully that I could fall in love with her myself. Physically, she's not so lovely as Barbara Bonney (in the Kiri/Howells/Bonney production), but that's hardly grounds for criticism.

    Both the Presentation of the Rose, and the finale, had me in tears. I can't fault it, truly I can't. And all the time, this magical orchestral playing is sweeping, probing, embellishing, and enlivening the action. Oh and I haven't mentioned the sets - they are lovely.

    Is it better than Kiri/Howells/Bonney? I've no idea. It's different, and certainly no less wonderful. I think it's just necessary to have both.

    Some youtubes (poor sound quality, and don't do it justice, not at all):

    Presentation of rose

    End of Act 3 (Watch Gwyneth Jones's quiet but quick departure - the flickering of changing expressions on her face as she decides to leave, and turns ... and have the tissues ready)

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    Senior Member jhar26's Avatar
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    Sounds like a must-have to me, Alan. I can't wait to get my hands on a copy - thanks for the review.

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    Senior Member Elgarian's Avatar
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    I'm going to rave about this again. Watching through Act I again, I'm quite overwhelmed - most particularly with Gwyneth Jones's performance as the Marschallin. She simply is the definitive Marschallin as far as I'm concerned. Her acting is superb, and her singing exquisite. That, coupled with Kleiber's quicksilver orchestral work, means that all the time my emotions are shifting - up, down, roundabout - matching hers. Eyes suddenly filling with tears, then smiling a few moments later. Wonderful though I think the Kiri/Bonney/Howells DVD is, I think I'm persuaded that this is the one I couldn't manage without.

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    Senior Member jhar26's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elgarian View Post


    I'm going to rave about this again. Watching through Act I again, I'm quite overwhelmed - most particularly with Gwyneth Jones's performance as the Marschallin. She simply is the definitive Marschallin as far as I'm concerned. Her acting is superb, and her singing exquisite. That, coupled with Kleiber's quicksilver orchestral work, means that all the time my emotions are shifting - up, down, roundabout - matching hers. Eyes suddenly filling with tears, then smiling a few moments later. Wonderful though I think the Kiri/Bonney/Howells DVD is, I think I'm persuaded that this is the one I couldn't manage without.
    Wanna hear something funny? The Kleiber DVD I've got is a different one from yours. I've just noticed it when I re-read this and saw that you singled out Gwyneth Jones' Marschallin for special praise, and in another post you mentionned Brigitte Fassbaender's Octavian. Mine is with Felicity Lott (Marschallin), Kurt Moll (Ochs), Anne Sofie Von Otter (Octavian) and Barbara Bonney (Sophie). ......



    ..... a mistake easily made because how many conductors have two recordings of the same opera for the same company (DG)? I don't really regret buying this though, because it's a very good performance.

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    Senior Member Elgarian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jhar26 View Post
    I don't really regret buying this though, because it's a very good performance.
    I've seen bits of that on Youtube, and I always thought it looked very promising. So I think we have to conclude from this experience, Gaston, that we each need three versions ...

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    Senior Member jhar26's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elgarian View Post
    I've seen bits of that on Youtube, and I always thought it looked very promising. So I think we have to conclude from this experience, Gaston, that we each need three versions ...
    Four. There's a new one to be released soon with Renée Fleming as the marschallin. I fear that I won't be able to resist buying that one either. BTW - I've just ordered your Kleiber DVD.

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    Senior Member jhar26's Avatar
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    I've just seen the Jones/Fassbaender/Popp/Kleiber Rosenkavalier, Alan. It's everything you said it was and more. The absolute star for me is Carlos Kleiber. His tempos are often a bit faster than usual, but they always sound absolutely right. And the colours he brings out of that orchestra are amazing. All the principals are in excellent voice. Lucia Popp was arguably a bit too old for the role, but all that doesn't matter anymore once she starts singing. The final scene (trio and duet) is the most moving one of all three Rosenkavaliers I have - and the two others provide stiff competition. A lot of the credit for that must go to Kleiber - he really builds it towards a climax that had me literally in tears. Gwyneth Jones is as you say ideally suited to play/sing the marschallin. Every gesture or facial expression is spot on. The only role I have some minor reservations about is Manfred Jungwirth's Ochs. Not that he's bad, but I prefer the truly hilarious and pompous looking Aage Haugland on the Solti DVD. But that's only a very (and I mean VERY) minor criticism because what I've just seen and listened to is a 10/10 DVD for me. So, thanks Alan for turning me on to this one - it's a winner!

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    Senior Member Elgarian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jhar26 View Post
    I've just seen the Jones/Fassbaender/Popp/Kleiber Rosenkavalier, Alan. It's everything you said it was and more. The absolute star for me is Carlos Kleiber. His tempos are often a bit faster than usual, but they always sound absolutely right. And the colours he brings out of that orchestra are amazing. All the principals are in excellent voice. Lucia Popp was arguably a bit too old for the role, but all that doesn't matter anymore once she starts singing. The final scene (trio and duet) is the most moving one of all three Rosenkavaliers I have - and the two others provide stiff competition. A lot of the credit for that must go to Kleiber - he really builds it towards a climax that had me literally in tears. Gwyneth Jones is as you say ideally suited to play/sing the marschallin. Every gesture or facial expression is spot on. The only role I have some minor reservations about is Manfred Jungwirth's Ochs. Not that he's bad, but I prefer the truly hilarious and pompous looking Aage Haugland on the Solti DVD. But that's only a very (and I mean VERY) minor criticism because what I've just seen and listened to is a 10/10 DVD for me. So, thanks Alan for turning me on to this one - it's a winner!
    My lasting impression of that performance is that whoever I happen to be focusing on - Jones, Fassbaender, Popp, or Kleiber - they seem to be the star. If I focus on the orchestra, I think Kleiber is a magical sparkling genius; if Jones, I think she's the source of everyone else's energy; if Popp, I think her singing is so radiant that it must make everyone else feel that they're singing with an angel - and so on. I agree with you about Jungwirth, but I'm not in any case an Ochs fan - that is, I haven't seen an Ochs that won me over.

    I was pretty sure you'd love it, Gaston, but I'm delighted to have it confirmed. What incredibly rich Rosenkavalier fare we have available to us on DVD, eh?

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    Senior Member jhar26's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elgarian View Post
    My lasting impression of that performance is that whoever I happen to be focusing on
    That's true, but in this thread we usually talk about how great this or that singer's performance is, or how much we like (or hate) the production. I think that here Kleiber deserves a special mention because I can't imagine - as you say, a more sparkling performance of this score than his. But I agree about the overall excellence of the singers. Even the minor parts such as Faninal and the Italian singer are done very well indeed.

    As for Ochs - he's a cavalier. He is what he is and doesn't need to prove it.

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    Senior Member Elgarian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jhar26 View Post
    I think that here Kleiber deserves a special mention
    I'll go along with that. So we'll give Popp, Jones, and Fassbaender our highly-sought-after 10/10 award certificate, whereas Carlos gets a certificate and a special twinkly diamond-encrusted badge for magic sparkling orchestral genius beyond the call of duty.

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    Senior Member jhar26's Avatar
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    Robert Carsen (the guy who also directed Rusalka and Eugene Onegin in other productions featuring Fleming) sets Capriccio not in the Paris of 1775 but the Paris under Nazi occupation in 1942. As usual this sort of thing is at odds with certain aspects of the libretto. It's for example very unlikely that in 1942 people were still discussing the virtues of Gluck as opposed to those of Piccini. And we also have to accept that those Nazi's didn't drive around in cars but with horse and carriage. Other than that this production is pretty attractive. All depends on that last scene of course and Fleming looks great and sounds sensational.
    Martha doesn't signal when the orchestra comes in, she's just pursing her lips..

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    Senior Member DarkAngel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jhar26 View Post


    Robert Carsen (the guy who also directed Rusalka and Eugene Onegin in other productions featuring Fleming) sets Capriccio not in the Paris of 1775 but the Paris under Nazi occupation in 1942. As usual this sort of thing is at odds with certain aspects of the libretto. It's for example very unlikely that in 1942 people were still discussing the virtues of Gluck as opposed to those of Piccini. And we also have to accept that those Nazi's didn't drive around in cars but with horse and carriage. Other than that this production is pretty attractive. All depends on that last scene of course and Fleming looks great and sounds sensational.
    Do you prefer Renee Fleming to madame Kiri.........


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    Senior Member jhar26's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DarkAngel View Post
    Do you prefer Renee Fleming to madame Kiri.........

    No, I'm glad to have both, but if I could only have one I'd prefer to have the Kiri in this case.
    Martha doesn't signal when the orchestra comes in, she's just pursing her lips..

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    Moderator mamascarlatti's Avatar
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    Well, carry me out in a bucket. Stupendous.
    Natalie

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    Senior Member DarkAngel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mamascarlatti View Post


    Well, carry me out in a bucket. Stupendous.
    Yes still the version others must be measured against.......
    Fassbaender looks and "masculine" voice can really carry off the character of Octavian

    How do you top Lucia Popp's performance of Sophie (with all respect to Renee Fleming and Kiri)

    Thank goodness this talent was not wasted on some goofy modern experimantal production

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