2003 Beethoven, Mendelssohn: Violin Concertos Philips
000080502 CD

2003 Beethoven, Mendelssohn: Violin Concertos Philips
000109436 Super Audio Hybrid CD

2003 Beethoven, Mendelssohn: Violin Concertos Decca
4738722 CD

2013 Beethoven, Mendelssohn: Violin Concertos Decca
4785012 Blu-Ray Audio


Beethoven: Vioolconcert in D op. 61; Mendelssohn: Vioolconcert in e op. 64. Viktoria Mullova met het Orchestre révolutionaire et romantique o.l.v. John Eliot Gardiner. Philips 470.629-2, 473.872-2 (68’17”). 2002

Vreemd eigenlijk dat Mullova tot zomer 2002 wachtte met het opnemen van een van de meest voor de hand liggende vioolconcerten: dat van Beethoven. De beide vioolconcerten van Mendelssohn had ze in 1990 al met Marriner vastgelegd (Philips 432.077-2). Dat wachten heeft de moeite geloond want in de loop der tijd heeft de violiste zich min of meer geleidelijk bekeerd tot de authentieke school, getuige een vergelijking tussen haar oude Vivaldi-, Bach- en Mozartopnamen  en de recentere.

In het onderhavige geval heeft ze zich behalve van een in oude stijl gespecialiseerd ensemble bovendien met de dirigent gebogen over de oorspronkelijke handschriften van beide werken, wat heeft geleid tot alternatieve details. Men moet beide werken wel heel goed kennen om die verschillen te herkennen, maar niettemin. Bovendien gebruikt Mullova in het Beethovenconcert niet een der gangbare cadensen, maar een nieuwe, best stijlvolle van Ottavio Dantone die haar daarvan ook voorzag in haar opname van Mozarts concerten nr. 1, 3 en 4 (Philiips 470.292-2)

Ook de koppeling Beethoven/Mendelssohn is niet alledaags. Onder meer Menuhin (EMI), Heifetz (RCA) en Bell (Sony) zorgden daar eerder voor. Met haar streven naar authenticiteit raakt Mullova wat Beethoven betreft in het gezelschap van Zehetmair (Philips) en Huggett (CFP).

Met een aanbod van meer dan honderd opnamen van elk van deze werken is het moeilijk zich echt te onderscheiden. Toch gebeurt dat hier in positieve zin. Mullova’s attaque en steeds pure toon in combinatie met een uiterst zorgvuldige en heldere articulatie tot in het lastigste passagewerk in het eerste deel, de fraaie contrasten die in het middendeel zijn aangebracht plus de voor Mullova warme toon en de vlotte, lichte finale met opnieuw dansend passagewerk maken van deze Beethoven best wat bijzonders. Bij Mendelssohn ontbreekt het evenmin aan temperament en spontaniteit met vermijding van ieder zweem van sentimentaliteit in het middendeel. Het hoeft nauwelijks nader betoog dat de begeleidingen heel gaaf en inspirerend zijn.

Samenvattend: probeer deze Beethoven naast die van Zehetmair en de ‘traditionele’ Grumiaux (Philips), Perlman (EMI) en Kremer (Warner) en Mendelssohn naast Chung en Jansen (Decca), Chang (EMI) en Mullova’s vorige opname.


Viktoria Mullova and John Eliot Gardiner: Mullova, a strong-toned, intense, and very virtuosic Russian violinist living in the West, an individualist without a trace of idiosyncrasy and a expressivist without a trace of sentimentality, and Gardiner, a superb proponent of period instruments who’s out of his depths with passionate expressivity, an excellent exponent of Handel and Bach who’s over his head with Beethoven or Berlioz, a conducting collection of idiosyncrasies passing himself off as an interpreter and an amateur passing himself off as an individualist. What could they have to say to each other? At least in this 2002 recording of the Beethoven and Mendelssohn violin concertos, the answer is: nothing good. Mullova is reserved, restrained, and almost reluctant, her tone contracted, her intensity constrained, and her virtuosity constricted. Gardiner leads the Orchestre Revolutionnaire et Romantique in an instrumentally colorful but ultimately lax and soporific accompaniment. Together, Mullova and Gardinerturn in a pair of tepid and timid performances with only Mullova’s fiery and passionate performances of Ottavio Dantone’s cadenzas to the Beethoven concerto to make the disc worth hearing. Philips’ sound is a little too reverberant and oddly empty.


The combination of “traditional” soloist with period orchestra always promises interesting possibilities. Viktoria Mullova and John Eliot Gardiner find themselves of one mind with respect to the Beethoven concerto, turning in a performance of exceptional lyricism tempered by a keenly sustained sense of forward movement, particularly welcome in the opening movement. If I take a bit of time to talk about Gardiner’s contribution first, it’s not to diminish Mullova–but one advantage to the transparency and “edge” to the sound of a period band is that Gardiner can wrest such a singing tone from his orchestra while still having brass and drums punctuate the texture as they should. The result has great dramatic tension and proves an excellent foil to Mullova’s fine fiddling.

To her credit, Mullova does not attempt to emulate her authenticist colleagues to an untoward degree. Her playing has warmth and fire but also offers the gentleness that the music demands. In the first movement she plays a very long cadenza by Ottavio Dantone that injects the movement with a degree of fireworks that’s extremely surprising and effective given the songful approach adopted up to that point. The Larghetto flows gracefully, well sustained and with some lovely wind contributions–but it’s the finale that offers the most interesting playing of all. Again, the approach is quite lyrical and legato in the principal theme, but the thrusting contributions of the full orchestra create a huge contrast that gives the music all of the drama and fun that Beethoven writes into it. In short, this is a very well-thought-out performance.

The Mendelssohn occupies a somewhat less-exalted plane, interpretively speaking. The very dark and deliberate first movement has a touch of fierceness–even anger–that’s quite effective, with the slow movement simply phrased and a touch austere. So far, so good. Unfortunately the finale hangs fire: it simply lacks sparkle at a too-deliberate tempo, and the winds of the Orchestra Révolutionaire et Romantique don’t support the violin solo with sufficient color and presence. This must be an interpretive choice since the recording is well balanced and not unduly fixated on Mullova at the expense of orchestral detail. So this isn’t a great performance of the Mendelssohn, but there’s plenty of fine music making going on–and the Beethoven strikes me as eminently worth a listen. It certainly stands out from the crowd in a wholly positive sense, and that’s exactly what you want if you’re going to consider yet another performance of a repertory staple such as this.


Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 61
1 1. Allegro ma non troppo
John Eliot Gardiner / Viktoria Mullova / Orchestre Revolutionnaire et Romantique
2 2. Larghetto
John Eliot Gardiner / Viktoria Mullova / Orchestre Revolutionnaire et Romantique
3 3. Rondo
John Eliot Gardiner / Viktoria Mullova / Orchestre Revolutionnaire et Romantique
Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64
4 1. Allegro molto appassionato
John Eliot Gardiner / Viktoria Mullova / Orchestre Revolutionnaire et Romantique
5 2. Andante
John Eliot Gardiner / Viktoria Mullova / Orchestre Revolutionnaire et Romantique
6 3. Allegretto non troppo – Allegro molto vivace
John Eliot Gardiner / Viktoria Mullova / Orchestre Revolutionnaire et Romantique



Now this is the way to re-launch a violinist: a two-disc set of Beethoven’s two most virtuosic works for violin — the concerto and the “Kreutzer” Sonata — performed with two of the finest accompanists in the world — the Wiener Philharmoniker under Riccardo Muti in the concerto and Martha Argerich in the sonata. Still, young Russian violinist Vadim Repin has a clutch of first-class recordings for Erato to his credit, including terrific couplings of Shostakovich and Prokofiev’s concertos. But he had previously stayed away from recording these two core repertoire works.

Until now, that is. And it was totally worth the wait. Repin’s clear intonation, sweet tone, and brilliant technique prove ideally appropriate for Beethoven’s music. His concerto is quintessentially lyrical in execution, with intensely expressive but wonderfully graceful legato lines running through in all three movements. His sonata, on the other hand, is fabulously virtuosic with a searing opening Presto, a silken central Andante, and a headlong closing Presto. With old friend Muti, the Wiener Philharmonikeraccompanies Repin with an effortless elegance that is as to the manor born. The always astounding Argerich has recorded the “Kreutzer” many times before, and her recording of the work with Gidon Kremer is one of the most exciting performances of anything ever made. But this performance with Repin, although very different, is surely in the same league. Repin’s technique matches Kremer’s and though he may not quite equal Kremer in overwhelming power, he might exceed him in sheer beauty of tone. Both works are superbly recorded with sound so clear it could hardly be said to be there at all.

Anyone who knows Repin’s work will have to hear these performances. And anyone who doesn’t already know Repin’s work will have to hear these performances.

Violinkonzert · Violin Concerto

Violinsonate · Violin Sonata
No. 9 op. 47 »Kreutzer«

Vadim Repin
Martha Argerich
Wiener Philharmoniker
Riccardo Muti
Int. Release 15 Oct. 2007
2 CDs / Download
0289 477 6596 7
CD DDD 0289 477 6596 7 GH 2
Beethoven: Vioolconcert in D op. 61; Vioolsonate nr. 9 in A op. 47 Kreutzer. Vadim Repin met resp. het Weens filharmonisch orkest o.l.v. Riccardo Muti en Martha Argerich (p). DG 477.6596 (2 cd’s, 84’07”). 2007

Als vroegbloeier heeft Vadim Repin al op jonge leeftijd heel wat standaardwerken uit het klassieke vioolrepertoire vereeuwigd, meestal  op Erato en later Warner: Vioolconcerten van Khrennikov, Lalo, Miaskovski, Mozart, Prokofjev, Sibelius, Sjostakovitsj en Tsjajkovski (plus talloze sonates, doch niet de Kreutzer, maar daar gaat het hier nu niet om). Maar aan een van de beroemdste, populairste concerten, dat van Beethoven, waagde hij zich niet. Tot – volgens het tekstboekje – ‘de tijd was gekomen’ en in februari 2007 zijn Weense vertolking werd geregistreerd. De violist heeft deze opname vooraf doen gaan door een lange, grondige studie tot bij Menuhin aan toe. Dat alles wordt gereleveerd in het boekje bij deze cd dat al haast zelf een heel positieve recensie van deze gebeurtenis bevat.

Wordt in beide gevallen aan die hooggestemde verwachtingen voldaan? Met naar ruwe schatting zo’n zeventig reeds voorhanden opnamen van dit haast gemaltraiteerde werk – daaronder prachtige van vooral Kremer (Warner), Grumiaux (Philips), Perlman (EMI), Zehetmair (Philips) Schneiderhan (DG), Zukerman (DG), Hahn (Sony), Chung (EMI) en Mutter (DG) – wordt het steeds moeilijker zich nog positief te onderscheiden.

Wat we van Repin te horen krijgen is heel gedistingeerd, weloverwogen en uitstekend verzorgd. Solist en orkest (dit is meteen het debuut van Muti op DG) besteden de uiterste aandacht aan dynamische- en voordrachtstekens, maar dat gebeurt op een weliswaar wat nadrukkelijke, maar niet op bestudeerde wijze. Repin speelt het een prachtig heldere, slanke, vibratoarme toon waarmee hij tegemoet komt aan de verlangens van de liefhebbers van de oude uitvoeringspraktijk. De rijkdom aan fraai uitgewerkte details en de zorg die daaraan is besteed, wekken ook bewondering. Zo krijgt het eerste deel een echt concertant karakter waarbij de voorwaartse impulsen voor vaart zorgen

In het langzame deel, vol met subtiele nuancen scheppen solist en dirigent een sfeer van weldadige rust; de finale verloopt met de nodige ritmische verve vlot, maar redelijk plooibaar zodat hier bijna lichtvoetige dansmuziek ontstaat. De fraaie inbreng van de houtblazers moet ook nog worden gememoreerd. Repin speelt de vertrouwde cadens van Kreisler.

Met Martha Argerich als pianiste in de feitelijke hoofdrol hadden we al een paar fijne Kreutzersonates, heel gedurfd en origineel met Gidon Kremer (DG 447.054-2) en wat traditioneler met Perlman (EMI 556.815-2). In het eerste geval met twee kunstenaars met uitgesproken opvattingen die het roerend eens werden en voor een fascinerend resultaat zorgden. Van enig mogelijk onderhuids conflict tussen twee sterke persoonlijkheden is hier geen sprake, mogelijk zijn met het grijzer worden der haren bij Argerich langzamerhand ook de wilde boskat neigingen wat getemperd. Gelukkig is het ensemblespel van deze Luganese opname uit juni 2007 wel hecht en goed verzorgd. De vertolking is vitaal met een dramatisch eerste deel, een warm expressief tweede deel en een sprankelend etherische finale.

Wat meteen opvalt aan de vrijwel gelijktijdig verschenen Harmonia Mundi opname met toevallig een identiek programma, is de ruim negen minuten geringere speelduur. Dat betekent minder noten per euro, maar ze blijken in grote trekken wel waardevoller te zijn. De aanpak is minder aanmatigend en dwingend, maar bezit wel meer vaart en welkome stuwkracht. Wat de uitvoering van Faust die over een eveneens heel gave, ranke toon beschikt met een fractie minder warmte, extra spannend maakt, is haar gebruik van de cadensen (met pauken) die bestemd waren voor de versie van het vioolconcert als pianoconcert. Schneiderhan (DG) leverde daarvan een vioolaanpassing en Kremer (Philips, Teldec) maakte daar ook gebruik van; de tweede cadens verbindt het tweede en derde deel. Faust maakte zelf kleine aanpassingen om dichter bij het piano origineel te komen. Geheel passend in deze vlotte opvatting is ook dat de orkestpartij licht en transparant, niet al te filharmonisch wordt gehouden. Aanleiding ook voor levendige accenten.

De samenwerking tussen Faust en Melnikov in de sonate is evenwichtiger dan die van Repin en Argerich in een gelijkberechtigder aanpak en Fausts idee om ook het concertante karakter van dit werk een meer solistisch aanzien te verlenen, komt geheel uit de verf.

Beide uitgaven van het vioolconcert behoort in menig opzicht tot de mooiste, maar schuw het nodige vergelijken niet. Jammer dat bij Repin al die extra voorbereiding nauwelijks tot evidente meerwaarde heeft geleid. Het gaat hier bovendien ook om een luxe uitgave, met twee werken elk op een eigen cd en speelduren van slechts 45’49” en 38’18” per stuk.

Bij het onderhave tweetal gaat dus tenslotte toch de voorkeur lichtelijk uit naar Faust. Daarnaast blijven de andere, eerder genoemde uitgaven volop in de race.


TIN13: 0825646060221
Verschijningsdatum: 12. oktober 2004
Aantal discs 1
Aantal tracks: 6
Speelduur: 64:18
Product Type: CD
  • 1 1. Allegro
    18:22 Aimard,Pierre-Laurent/Harnoncourt,Nikolaus/COE Beethoven, Ludwig van
  • 2 2. Largo
    04:37 Aimard,Pierre-Laurent/Harnoncourt,Nikolaus/COE Beethoven, Ludwig van
  • 3 3. Rondo alla Polacca
    13:27 Aimard,Pierre-Laurent/Harnoncourt,Nikolaus/COE Beethoven, Ludwig van
  • 4 Rondo für Klavier und Orchester B-Dur WoO 6
    08:29 Aimard,Pierre-Laurent/Harnoncourt,Nikolaus/COE Beethoven, Ludwig van
  • 5 1. Adagio
    03:32 Aimard,Pierre-Laurent/Harnoncourt,Nikolaus/COE Beethoven, Ludwig van
  • 6 2. Finale: Allegro – Meno allegro – Allegro molto – Adagio ma non troppo – Marcia, assai vivace – Adagio ma non troppo
    15:51 Aimard,Pierre-Laurent/Harnoncourt,Nikolaus/COE Beethoven, Ludwig van

Listening to the opening tutti on this joyful new Triple Concerto, I could just picture Nikolaus Harnoncourt cueing his strings, perched slightly forwards, impatiently waiting for that first, pregnant forte. This is a big, affable, blustery Triple, the soloists completing the sound canvas rather than dominating it, a genuine collaborative effort. So beside the Beethovenian strut to this performance there is poetry too, as at 8’25” where Clemens Hagen wafts in with the principal theme underpinned by gently brushed strings. Then again the modulating sequences from 9’36”, so often crudely hammered home in rival versions, are stylishly shaped, the emphases properly focused, with Aimard clearly centre-stage. And yet thoughtfulness never spells caution (all three works were recorded at concerts in Graz over the last 18 months); Hagen and Thomas Zehetmair throw caution to the winds near the end of the first movement.

The Concerto’s Largo is simplicity itself, rather like a song without words, but it is the finale that is likely to raise the most smiles, a rumbustious affair, uninhibited without coursing out of control. Harnoncourt and his team go for the burn, always brilliant but, more importantly, full of character and humour.

The fill-ups are hardly less engaging. The little B flat Rondo is bubbly from the start, Aimard and the orchestra maintaining a feeling of chamber collaboration. And then the Choral Fantasia, so often clunky on disc but here much aided by Aimard’s sense of style – his arpeggios in the long opening solo have so much colour – and by Harnoncourt’s relaxed approach to the music that follows, each variation imaginatively tended within a larger framework. The singing is excellent, the sound both warm and realistic. As ‘feel-good’ Beethoven programmes go, this is about as enjoyable as it gets, though a high level of musical insight further enhances one’s pleasure. But then isn’t that always the case with Harnoncourt?



GTIN13: 0028948256921
Verschijningsdatum: 04. november 2016
Aantal discs 1
Aantal tracks: 18
Speelduur: 61:57
Product Type: CD
  • 1 Ouvertüre: Adagio – Allegro molto con brio
    04:55 Orchestra of the 18th.Century/Brüggen,Frans Beethoven, Ludwig van
  • 2 Introduzione: Allegro non troppo
    01:54 Orchestra of the 18th.Century/Brüggen,Frans Beethoven, Ludwig van
  • 3 1. Poco adagio
    02:35 Orchestra of the 18th.Century/Brüggen,Frans Beethoven, Ludwig van
  • 4 2. Adagio – Allegro con brio
    01:51 Orchestra of the 18th.Century/Brüggen,Frans Beethoven, Ludwig van
  • 5 3. Allegro vivace
    01:55 Orchestra of the 18th.Century/Brüggen,Frans Beethoven, Ludwig van
  • 6 4. Maestoso – Andante
    01:08 Orchestra of the 18th.Century/Brüggen,Frans Beethoven, Ludwig van
  • 7 5. Adagio – Andante quasi Allegretto
    06:44 Orchestra of the 18th.Century/Brüggen,Frans Beethoven, Ludwig van
  • 8 6. Un poco Adagio – Allegro
    01:25 Orchestra of the 18th.Century/Brüggen,Frans Beethoven, Ludwig van
  • 9 7. Grave
    04:40 Orchestra of the 18th.Century/Brüggen,Frans Beethoven, Ludwig van
  • 10 8. Allegro con brio
    06:51 Orchestra of the 18th.Century/Brüggen,Frans Beethoven, Ludwig van
  • 11 9. Adagio
    03:39 Orchestra of the 18th.Century/Brüggen,Frans Beethoven, Ludwig van
  • 12 10. Pastorale: Allegro
    02:40 Orchestra of the 18th.Century/Brüggen,Frans Beethoven, Ludwig van
  • 13 11. Coro di Gioja: Andate
    00:32 Orchestra of the 18th.Century/Brüggen,Frans Beethoven, Ludwig van
  • 14 12. Solo di Gioja: Maestoso – Adagio
    02:46 Orchestra of the 18th.Century/Brüggen,Frans Beethoven, Ludwig van
  • 15 13. Terzettino: Grotteschi: Allegro
    03:44 Orchestra of the 18th.Century/Brüggen,Frans Beethoven, Ludwig van
  • 16 14. Solo della Signora Cassentini: Andante – Adagio
    04:35 Orchestra of the 18th.Century/Brüggen,Frans Beethoven, Ludwig van
  • 17 15. Coro e Solo di Viganò: Andantino – Adagio
    04:08 Orchestra of the 18th.Century/Brüggen,Frans Beethoven, Ludwig van
  • 18 16. Finale: Allegretto
    05:55 Orchestra of the 18th.Century/Brüggen,Frans Beethoven, Ludwig van

So familiar are Beethoven’s overtures in the concert hall that we tend to forget their (mainly) theatrical origins: of the eight assembled on the Harnoncourt disc, four were written for his only opera, Fidelio, three were inspired by plays and one was composed for a ballet. In essence, then, these are dramatic pieces, full of vivid contrasts, and Harnoncourt’s cleanly articulated, style-sensitive performances present them well. The spare, dark-hued textures and obsessive tension of Coriolan (the only piece here not recorded live), the careful observation of dynamic markings in the unhurried Fidelio, the delineation of the broader, more ambitious processes of Leonore No. 2, all bespeak an interpreter more concerned with discovering what is in the music than in forcing it to serve the ends of orchestral virtuosity. The recording is marginally over-resonant, leading to a lack of clarity in the overall sound picture. Curiously, Harnoncourt’s Prometheus Overture doesn’t finish with the brusque chords of the concert ending, but segues straight into the stormy Introduction to the ballet proper. In his account of the complete ballet (staged at Vienna’s Burgtheater in 1801), Frans Brüggen naturally does the same. Once again the score relates to a theatrical action, but only brief scenarios and a few stage directions in Beethoven’s sketches survive to tell us how. Though often attractive, Prometheus demonstrates the young composer’s ability to fulfil a commission with thorough professionalism, rather than confirming the outstanding originality of the marginally earlier First Symphony. Once again captured live, Brüggen’s approach is more generalised, less rich in local perceptions, than Harnoncourt’s, while the impact of the period-instrument orchestra has been muted by the acoustic.



2004 Tchaikovsky: 1812; Beethoven: Wellington’s Victory Telarc Distribution
80640 CD

1. 1812 Overture, Op.49
2. Capriccio Italien, Op.45
3. Cossack Dance
4. Wellington’s Victory, Op.91
5. Battle Of The Huns
6. Hungarian March To The Assault

GTIN13: 5099970441321
Verschijningsdatum: 20. augustus 2012
Aantal discs 7
Aantal tracks: 71
Speelduur: 496:30

Disk 1 (CD)

  • 1 String Quartet No. 1 in F, Op.18 (1999 – Remaster): I. Allegro con brio
    08:51 Alban Berg Quartett
  • 2 String Quartet No. 1 in F, Op.18 (1999 – Remaster): II. Adagio affettuoso ed appassionato
    09:26 Alban Berg Quartett
  • 3 String Quartet No. 1 in F, Op.18 (1999 – Remaster): III. Scherzo (Allegro molto) & Trio
    03:19 Alban Berg Quartett
  • 4 String Quartet No. 1 in F, Op.18 (1999 – Remaster): IV. Allegro
    06:21 Alban Berg Quartett
  • 5 String Quartet No.7 in F, Op.59/1 ‘Rasumovsky’ (1985 – Remaster): I. Allegro
    09:34 Alban Berg Quartett
  • 6 String Quartet No.7 in F, Op.59/1 ‘Rasumovsky’ (1985 – Remaster): II. Allegretto vivace e sempre scherzando
    08:44 Alban Berg Quartett
  • 7 String Quartet No.7 in F, Op.59/1 ‘Rasumovsky’ (1985 – Remaster): III. Adagio molto e mesto
    12:56 Alban Berg Quartett
  • 8 String Quartet No.7 in F, Op.59/1 ‘Rasumovsky’ (1985 – Remaster): IV. Allegro (Thème russe)
    08:12 Alban Berg Quartett

Disk 2

  • 1 String Quartet No. 2 in G, Op.18 (1999 – Remaster): I. Allegro
    08:01 Alban Berg Quartett
  • 2 String Quartet No. 2 in G, Op.18 (1999 – Remaster): II. Adagio cantabile
    06:30 Alban Berg Quartett
  • 3 String Quartet No. 2 in G, Op.18 (1999 – Remaster): III. Scherzo (Allegro) & Trio
    04:26 Alban Berg Quartett
  • 4 String Quartet No. 2 in G, Op.18 (1999 – Remaster): IV. Allegro molto, quasi presto
    05:17 Alban Berg Quartett
  • 5 String Quartet No. 6 in B Flat, Op.18 (1999 – Remaster): I. Allegro con brio
    05:47 Alban Berg Quartett
  • 6 String Quartet No. 6 in B Flat, Op.18 (1999 – Remaster): II. Adagio, ma non troppo
    06:56 Alban Berg Quartett
  • 7 String Quartet No. 6 in B Flat, Op.18 (1999 – Remaster): III. Scherzo (Allegro) & Trio
    03:08 Alban Berg Quartett
  • 8 String Quartet No. 6 in B Flat, Op.18 (1999 – Remaster): IV. Adagio (La Malinconia) – Allegretto quasi allegro
    08:33 Alban Berg Quartett
  • 9 String Quartet No.16 in F, Op.135: I. Allegretto
    06:17 Alban Berg Quartett
  • 10 String Quartet No.16 in F, Op.135: II. Vivace
    03:22 Alban Berg Quartett
  • 11 String Quartet No.16 in F, Op.135: III. Lento assai e cantante tranquillo
    07:47 Alban Berg Quartett
  • 12 String Quartet No.16 in F, Op.135: IV. Grave ma non troppo tratto – Allegro
    06:55 Alban Berg Quartett

Disk 3

  • 1 String Quartet No. 3 in D, Op.18 (1999 – Remaster): I. Allegro
    07:39 Alban Berg Quartett
  • 2 String Quartet No. 3 in D, Op.18 (1999 – Remaster): II. Andante con moto
    07:54 Alban Berg Quartett
  • 3 String Quartet No. 3 in D, Op.18 (1999 – Remaster): III. Allegro
    02:59 Alban Berg Quartett
  • 4 String Quartet No. 3 in D, Op.18 (1999 – Remaster): IV. Presto
    06:33 Alban Berg Quartett/Hatto Beyerle
  • 5 String Quartet No. 5 in A, Op.18 (1999 – Remaster): I. Allegro
    06:45 Alban Berg Quartett
  • 6 String Quartet No. 5 in A, Op.18 (1999 – Remaster): II. Menuetto & Trio
    04:22 Alban Berg Quartett
  • 7 String Quartet No. 5 in A, Op.18 (1999 – Remaster): III. Andante cantabile
    09:53 Alban Berg Quartett
  • 8 String Quartet No. 5 in A, Op.18 (1999 – Remaster): IV. Allegro
    06:47 Alban Berg Quartett
  • 9 String Quartet No. 11 in F Minor, Op.95 ‘Serioso’ (1985 – Remaster): I. Allegro con brio
    03:59 Alban Berg Quartett
  • 10 String Quartet No. 11 in F Minor, Op.95 ‘Serioso’ (1985 – Remaster): II. Allegretto ma non troppo
    06:33 Alban Berg Quartett
  • 11 String Quartet No. 11 in F Minor, Op.95 ‘Serioso’ (1985 – Remaster): III. Allegro assai vivace, ma serioso
    04:23 Alban Berg Quartett
  • 12 String Quartet No. 11 in F Minor, Op.95 ‘Serioso’ (1985 – Remaster): IV. Larghetto espressivo – Allegretto agitato – All
    04:48 Alban Berg Quartett

Disk 4

  • 1 String Quartet No. 4 in C Minor, Op.18 (1999 – Remaster): I. Allegro ma non tanto
    08:30 Alban Berg Quartett
  • 2 String Quartet No. 4 in C Minor, Op.18 (1999 – Remaster): II. Scherzo (Andante scherzoso quasi allegretto)
    06:58 Alban Berg Quartett
  • 3 String Quartet No. 4 in C Minor, Op.18 (1999 – Remaster): III. Menuetto (Allegretto) & Trio
    03:23 Alban Berg Quartett
  • 4 String Quartet No. 4 in C Minor, Op.18 (1999 – Remaster): IV. Allegro
    04:25 Alban Berg Quartett
  • 5 String Quartet No. 13 in B Flat, Op.130: I. Adagio ma non troppo – Allegro
    09:44 Alban Berg Quartett
  • 6 String Quartet No. 13 in B Flat, Op.130: II. Presto
    01:54 Alban Berg Quartett
  • 7 String Quartet No. 13 in B Flat, Op.130: III. Andante con moto, ma non troppo
    06:49 Alban Berg Quartett
  • 8 String Quartet No. 13 in B Flat, Op.130: IV. Alla danza tedesca (Allegro assai)
    02:56 Alban Berg Quartett
  • 9 String Quartet No. 13 in B Flat, Op.130: V. Cavatina (Adagio molto espressivo)
    07:01 Alban Berg Quartett
  • 10 Grosse Fuge in B Flat, Op.133
    15:31 Alban Berg Quartett
  • 11 String Quartet No. 13 in B Flat, Op.130: VI. Finale (Allegro)
    07:47 Alban Berg Quartett

Disk 5

  • 1 String Quartet No. 8 in E Minor, Op.59 ‘Rasumovsky’ (1998 – Remaster): I. Allegro
    09:03 Alban Berg Quartett
  • 2 String Quartet No. 8 in E Minor, Op.59 ‘Rasumovsky’ (1998 – Remaster): II. Molto adagio
    12:22 Alban Berg Quartett
  • 3 String Quartet No. 8 in E Minor, Op.59 ‘Rasumovsky’ (1998 – Remaster): III. Allegretto
    06:35 Alban Berg Quartett
  • 4 String Quartet No. 8 in E Minor, Op.59 ‘Rasumovsky’ (1998 – Remaster): IV. Finale (Presto)
    05:10 Alban Berg Quartett
  • 5 String Quartet No. 12 in E Flat, Op.127: I. Maestoso – Allegro
    06:36 Alban Berg Quartett
  • 6 String Quartet No. 12 in E Flat, Op.127: II. Adagio ma non troppo, molto cantabile
    16:36 Alban Berg Quartett
  • 7 String Quartet No. 12 in E Flat, Op.127: III. Scherzando vivace
    06:47 Alban Berg Quartett
  • 8 String Quartet No. 12 in E Flat, Op.127: IV. Finale
    06:47 Alban Berg Quartett

Disk 6

  • 1 String Quartet No. 9 in C, Op.59 ‘Rasumovsky’ (1985 – Remaster): I. Introduzione (Andante con moto) – Allegro vivace
    08:10 Alban Berg Quartett
  • 2 String Quartet No. 9 in C, Op.59 ‘Rasumovsky’ (1985 – Remaster): II. Andante con moto quasi allegretto
    10:09 Alban Berg Quartett
  • 3 String Quartet No. 9 in C, Op.59 ‘Rasumovsky’ (1985 – Remaster): III. Menuetto (Grazioso) & Trio
    04:55 Alban Berg Quartett
  • 4 String Quartet No. 9 in C, Op.59 ‘Rasumovsky’ (1985 – Remaster): IV. Allegro molto
    06:01 Alban Berg Quartett
  • 5 String Quartet No. 14 in C Sharp Minor, Op.131: I. Adagio ma non troppo e molto espressivo
    06:48 Alban Berg Quartett
  • 6 String Quartet No. 14 in C Sharp Minor, Op.131: II. Allegro molto vivace
    03:06 Alban Berg Quartett
  • 7 String Quartet No. 14 in C Sharp Minor, Op.131: III. Andante moderato
    00:50 Alban Berg Quartett
  • 8 String Quartet No. 14 in C Sharp Minor, Op.131: IV. Andante ma non troppo e molto cantabile
    13:23 Alban Berg Quartett
  • 9 String Quartet No. 14 in C Sharp Minor, Op.131: V. Presto
    05:35 Alban Berg Quartett
  • 10 String Quartet No. 14 in C Sharp Minor, Op.131: VI. Adagio quasi un poco andante
    01:33 Alban Berg Quartett
  • 11 String Quartet No. 14 in C Sharp Minor, Op.131: VII. Allegro
    06:25 Alban Berg Quartett

Disk 7

  • 1 String Quartet No. 10 in E Flat, Op.74 ‘Harp’ (1985 – Remaster): I. Poco adagio – Allegro
    09:26 Alban Berg Quartett
  • 2 String Quartet No. 10 in E Flat, Op.74 ‘Harp’ (1985 – Remaster): II Adagio ma non troppo
    09:33 Alban Berg Quartett
  • 3 String Quartet No. 10 in E Flat, Op.74 ‘Harp’ (1985 – Remaster): III. Presto
    05:06 Alban Berg Quartett
  • 4 String Quartet No. 10 in E Flat, Op.74 ‘Harp’ (1985 – Remaster): IV. Allegretto con variazioni
    06:32 Alban Berg Quartett
  • 5 String Quartet No. 15 in A Minor, Op.132: I. Assai sostenuto – Allegro
    09:17 Alban Berg Quartett
  • 6 String Quartet No. 15 in A Minor, Op.132: II. Allegro ma non tanto
    08:23 Alban Berg Quartett
  • 7 String Quartet No. 15 in A Minor, Op.132: III. Molto adagio
    15:03 Alban Berg Quartett
  • 8 String Quartet No. 15 in A Minor, Op.132: IV. Alla marcia, assai vivace
    02:03 Alban Berg Quartett
  • 9 String Quartet No. 15 in A Minor, Op.132: V. Allegro appasionato
    06:21 Alban Berg Quartett

To record a cycle of Beethoven quartets is clearly a major project for any group. Apart from the sheer extent of the music, these works still remain challenging, in technical and interpretative terms, nearly 200 years after they were written. The Emerson Quartet are formidably equipped to meet these challenges, with their exceptional internal balance, technical polish, rhythmic poise and mature, thoughtful approach to the music. The players are quite outstanding, I think, in the fast music – it’s difficult to imagine more joyful, exciting accounts of many of the final movements – the first three of Op. 18, for instance, or all three Rasumovsky finales. These are played at, or very close to, Beethoven’s own challenging metronome indications (he provided numbers for all the quartets up to Op. 95), and the very speedy tempos never sound scrambled, so perfect is the rhythmical control, so well considered the phrasing. The fast scherzos, too, in Op. 18 Nos. 1 and 6, Opp. 74, 95, 130, 131 and 135 are absolutely convincing as interpretations as well as breathtaking in the finesse and precision of the playing. And there are many other delights – the impassioned minuet in Op. 18 No. 4, the beautifully phrased and characterized opening movement of Op. 18 No. 2, the feeling of profound sadness in Op. 59 No. 1’s slow movement at a speed that keeps a sense of momentum, the delicacy and serenity of the variations in Op. 127.The Grosse Fuge, Op. 133, is one of their most impressive performances. The Quartetto Italiano’s granite-like account may make a more grandiose sound, but the Emerson’s faster speeds and careful projection of the different strands makes it easier to follow the twists and turns of Beethoven’s extraordinary invention – the intimate flow of the quiet middle section is especially convincing.
Some aspects of the playing style pleased me less. The Emerson, in their admirable desire to be faithful to the composer’s intentions, do sometimes take Beethoven’s expression marks too literally. In the opening fugue of Op. 131, for instance, the crescendo and sforzando that comes with every statement of the subject sound exaggerated. In the Alban Berg Quartet’s beautiful performance the increase in sound is less prominent, the sf more expressive, so that we experience, not the expression mark as such, but rather the pain that lies behind the music’s apparent serenity. Another example of this kind of exaggeration comes in the opening Allegro of Op. 59 No. 1, where the swells indicated to give expressive prominence to groups of notes are performed with excessive suddenness, making for a gushing, slightly seasick feeling. And there were quite a few places where I found myself wishing for less vibrato, and a stronger feeling of the smooth legato line. In the Cavatina of Op. 130, for example, or the Lento of Op. 135, the Italians achieve greater intensity of expression by persuading us to feel the shape of each phrase, the vibrato providing no more than an emotional colouring. You may be less concerned by this than I am – what’s certain is that the Emerson regulate their vibrato very consciously so that, for example, the meditative serenity of the Song of Thanksgiving in Op. 132 is superbly maintained through the purity of sound.
A most impressive series of recordings, then, and the recording quality, clear and intimate, with just enough reverberation to bring out the quality of each instrument’s sound, is equally fine. But is this the version to prefer above all others? The Alban Berg Quartet, recorded at concert performances, bring a sense of occasion and immediacy, with greater freedom and spontaneity of expression. They’re especially good in the more dance-like pieces – the second movement of Op. 132, the Alla Danza Tedesca in Op. 130, the Scherzo of Op. 59 No. 2, and other places where gracefulness or wit are needed. But their expressiveness tends to be very overt, heart-on-sleeve, so that the more profound, meditative moments are lost – in the slow movement of Op. 132, for instance. And there’s quite a lot of rough tone. The Italian players’ greatest asset is their wonderful tonal quality: clear, luminous and as well balanced as the Emerson Quartet. Their interpretations are straightforward and unaffected, with tremendous concentration and exceptional command of legato phrasing in the great slow movements. They favour tempos that are generally much slower than the rival versions, paying little attention to Beethoven’s metronome marks: this does make certain movements sound heavy or tame by the side of the Alban Berg or Emerson. The recordings were made between 1967 and 1975. They still sound well but don’t match the realism of the new version.
To sum up – the Emerson give us playing of exceptional technical accomplishment and an unusually wide expressive range. They continually offer new insights into some endlessly enthralling music. Do hear them.’


1990 Beethoven: Missa Solemnis [1990 Recording] Archiv Produktion 429779 CD
John Eliot Gardiner’s interpretation of the Missa Solemnis stands as one of the crowning accomplishments of his career and one of the most impressive achievements of the period-instrument movement. The concept is grand and powerful, lively though not unduly brisk. The execution is simply electrifying: Gardiner has the orchestra on the edge of their seats, the chorus going all-out, and sparks flying everywhere. Excellent singing from the soloists and a vivid recording complete the triumph, and it’s all on a single disc. –Ted Libbey
  • John Eliot Gardiner – Charlotte Margiono, Catherine Robbin, William Kendall, Alastair Miles; Monteverdi Choir, English Baroque Soloists (1990, Archiv CD)Perhaps the true heir of Toscanini’s drive toward simplicitymissa-gardiner was the historical performance movement that emerged in full force in the 1980s. Among the few recordings of the Missa Solemnis that strive for period authenticity, Gardiner’s has attracted consistent critical plaudits. Indeed, the attempt to realize the grandeur of Beethoven’s conception with the modest resources of his time can be seen as another aspect of the struggle inherent in his work – the limited number of choral voices and an absence of the depth and force that we associate with (and have come to expect from) modern instruments at times seem unequal to the task. Yet, something crucial is gained by the effort to replicate the vastly different timbres of two centuries ago. It can be heard in the very first chord – reedy winds, crisp drums and a balance in which the strings blend into, rather than overwhelm, the ensemble. The soloists’ minimal vibrato imparts their texts with a natural sincerity far removed from the suggestions of artifice and theatricality of the more common operatic projection, and thus creates a sense of direct communication, as does the plaintive solo violin in the Benedictus, which avoids the cloying sentimentality of some other renditions. Incidentally, Gardiner is one of the few to follow the original score by using the soloists, rather than the full chorus, in the Sanctus.

1 Beethoven: Mass in D, Op.123 “Missa Solemnis” – Kyrie
by Charlotte Margiono & Catherine Robbin & William Kendall & Alastair Miles & Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique & John Eliot Gardiner & Elizabeth Wilcock & Alastair Ross & The Monteverdi Choir
2 Beethoven: Mass in D, Op.123 “Missa Solemnis” – Gloria
by Charlotte Margiono & Catherine Robbin & William Kendall & Alastair Miles & Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique & John Eliot Gardiner & Elizabeth Wilcock & Alastair Ross & The Monteverdi Choir
3 Beethoven: Mass in D, Op.123 “Missa Solemnis” – Credo
by Charlotte Margiono & Catherine Robbin & William Kendall & Alastair Miles & Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique & John Eliot Gardiner & Elizabeth Wilcock & Alastair Ross & The Monteverdi Choir
4 Beethoven: Mass in D, Op.123 “Missa Solemnis” – Sanctus
by Charlotte Margiono & Catherine Robbin & William Kendall & Alastair Miles & Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique & John Eliot Gardiner & The Monteverdi Choir
5 Beethoven: Mass in D, Op.123 “Missa Solemnis” – Agnus Dei
by Charlotte Margiono & Catherine Robbin & William Kendall & Alastair Miles & Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique & John Eliot Gardiner & Elizabeth Wilcock & Alastair Ross & The Monteverdi Choir

First, there should never have been a recording of Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis on Archiv. Archiv is Deutsche Grammophon’s early music label and Beethoven is no more early music than Robert Schumann. Second, there should never have been a recording of Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis by John Eliot Gardiner. Gardiner is a reasonably competent conductor of Handel, but as a conductor of Beethoven, he’s batting out of his league. Worse yet, he doesn’t seem to know it. All the big moments in the work; all the small, still moments in the work; all the great moments of the work — and it’s a work full of great moments — they’re all gone like they were never there, brushed by in Gardiner’s haste to clarify the counterpoint between the voices and the strings and to balance the winds and the unruly brass. Third, there should never have been a recording by the English Baroque Soloists and the Monteverdi Choir. The English Baroque Soloists is a cracker-jack Baroque orchestra and the Monteverdi Choir is a jim-dandy chorus for a chamber opera. But Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis is a work scored for a massive orchestra and a monumental choir, and the strange squawks from the brass and the circumspect shouting of the tenors can not be considered just compensation. A lightly played, lightly sung, lightly recorded Missa Solemnis: if that’s what one wants in a Missa Solemnis, here it is.



GTIN13: 0843183071821
Verschijningsdatum: 04. november 2013
Aantal discs 1
Aantal tracks: 5
Speelduur: 70:04
Product Type: CD
  • 1 Kyrie
    08:18 Gardiner/Orch.Revolutionnaire & Romantique/Monteve Beethoven, Ludwig van
  • 2 Gloria
    15:33 Gardiner/Orch.Revolutionnaire & Romantique/Monteve Beethoven, Ludwig van
  • 3 Credo
    17:53 Gardiner/Orch.Revolutionnaire & Romantique/Monteve Beethoven, Ludwig van
  • 4 Sanctus
    14:45 Gardiner/Orch.Revolutionnaire & Romantique/Monteve Beethoven, Ludwig van
  • 5 Agnus Dei
    13:35 Gardiner/Orch.Revolutionnaire & Romantique/Monteve Beethoven, Ludwig van

Sir John Eliot Gardiner and his Monteverdi Choir will celebrate their Golden Anniversary with a performance of Claudio Monteverdi’s Vespro della Beata Vergine 1610 at King’s College Cambridge on March 5, 2014. It was 50 years to-the-day, in the same venue, that Gardiner and his Choir performed the Vespers as their debut. The only thing Gardiner and his forces have done in the meantime is completely change music scholarship and performance.

Gardiner could easily divide his professional career into “before Bach Cantata Pilgrimage” and after “Bach Cantata Pilgrimage (BCP).” At the close of the 20th Century, Gardiner began the Bach Cantata Pilgrimage with the bulk of the project taking place throughout the millennial year 2000. With his Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque soloists, Gardiner performed and recorded all of Bach’s surviving church cantatas over the course of the year, in proper liturgical order and at the same time marking the 250th anniversary of the composer’s death. These recordings were made live in churches throughout Europe and even in the same churches where Bach had served.

The BCP provided Gardiner, who had spearheaded much of the period instrument performance movement in the 1980s, 90s and ’00s, with an artistic renewal and refreshed outlook. His performances and recordings since Bach were intensely informed by the project. Gardiner’s 2012 Carnegie Hall recital resulted revelatory performances of Beethoven’s Fifth and Seventh Symphonies twenty years after his landmark cycle (including the Missa Solemnis) was recorded for Deutsche Grammophon’s Archiv Produktion imprint. This particular Fifth and Seventh Symphonies is the first able to stand on level ground with Carlos Kleiber’s monumental readings with the Vienna Philharmonic, released by Deutsche Grammophon in 1976.

Gardiner’s first recording of the Missa Solemnis was recorded in 1989 and released a year later. He made the recording with his Monteverdi Choir and the period band, The English Baroque Soloists. This recording was well regarded and appears as GrammophonMagazine’s choice recording. It is a powerful account, even my modern instrument standards, with robust soloists and the ever-bigger-than-life Choir. Gardiner’s new account should cause that magazine a moment for pause and reconsideration. This live Missa, recorded live by the BBC at the Barbican Hall in London, 17 October 2012, closely followed Gardiner’s reassessment of Bach’s Motets (Soli Deo Gloria, 2012). Both recordings reflect Gardiner’s revival spirit. Where the Motets (as compared to his 1993 Erato set) are bright and engaging, this new Missa is kinetic and scintillating.

Gardiner uses his historically-informed and more era- appropriate Orchestre Revolutionnaire et Romantique for this new Missa (as he did on his well-received Beethoven Nine set (Arkiv, 1994). While there exists overlap between the English Baroque Soloist (used on his earlier Missa recording), Gardiner endeavored to refine his historical performance with clearly audible results in the performance as well as the engineered sonics. Gardiner’s pace for the new performance is even faster than his earlier recording at 69:58 versus 71:55, respectively. Compared to the modern instrumental performances by Klemperer (79:31), Barenboim (84:32) and Bernstein (81:00), Gardiner takes a Formula-One approach. When compared to the contemporary historically-informed performances by Philippe Herreweghe, Orchestre des Champs-Elysées (77:21, Harmonia Mundi, 1995; 75:17, PHi, 2013), Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Chamber Orchestra Of Europe (80:58, Teldec, 1993) and David Zinman, Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich (65:47, Arte Nova, 2005), Gardiner is faster, save for Zinman’s telekinetic performance.

Beethoven’s masterpiece is rarely programmed for live performance. It is logistically challenging, requiring a larger orchestra and choral as well as nimble soloist. It is a touchstone of the recorded repertoire, often recorded by conductors and orchestras who have previously completed the symphony cycle. Gardiner has now recorded it twice, separated by almost 20 years and his reconsideration is monumental. Gardiner discovers the majestic core of what Beethoven considered his greatest composition. Gardiner in his re-invigoration has passed it on in this white-hot, on-the-edge live performance that should, itself, become a standard by which other performances are compared.

John Eliot Gardiner’s earlier recording of the Missa solemnis was a landmark event. Reviewing the disc in these columns, John Steane noted that, had it been available while he was writing his survey of recordings of the work for Choral Music on Record (Cambridge: 1991, ed Alan Blyth), he would have judged it the best of all. And, indeed, it remains a leading contender as a ‘library’ recommendation.

There are those, I know, who find that 1991 performance stronger on the work’s dramatic element than on what is rather vaguely termed its ‘spiritual dimension’. But that’s a judgement which could equally be levelled at the live 1940 Toscanini account or even Klemperer’s hair-raisingly dramatic 1951 Vox recording (6/53 – nla), a version which I’ve long thought hors concours. If we’re to distinguish between what, down the years, have been the most widely admired and collected versions of the Missa solemnis – a list which would also include Philippe Herreweghe’s memorable 1995 Harmonia Mundi recording and the famously well played and eloquently sung 1965 Karajan – it might be useful to use different terms of reference.

When Hilary Finch in The Times reviewed the live Barbican performance on which this new Gardiner recording is based, she spoke of Gardiner’s determination to reveal the sheer awe and terror within the music: ‘Praise and adoration seemed themselves by-products of fear in the blast of raw, hard-edged voices that was the Gloria.’ There is ‘awe and terror’ aplenty in that great 1951 Klemperer recording, alongside moments of deep calm and radiant beauty, as there are in this live Gardiner account. Herreweghe has always taken a more proportionate view of the music, one that (for want of a better word) is more ‘humane’. It’s also, like the earlier Gardiner version, a performance which more readily accommodates itself to the gramophone and the demands of repeated listening.

All of which is a roundabout way of saying that this blistering and yet at times often profoundly moving new account of the work is one which complements the 1991 version rather than supplants it. The newer version demands to be heard. Such is the visceral intensity of the music-making, a certain girding of the loins may be required before a second hearing, but isn’t that precisely how it should be with a work of this power and magnitude?



GTIN13: 0017685425929
Verschijningsdatum: 06. oktober 2003
Aantal discs 2
Aantal tracks: 6
Speelduur: 95:13

Remastered in 2003 by Graham Newton. Missa Solemnis in D; Fantasia in c for Piano, Chorus & Orchestra. Toscanini, Milanov, Castagna, Bjorling, Kipnis; A. Dorfman, piano. 1940 & 1939 (M). Detailed notes by Harvey Sachs. Originally released in 1986. UPC #0-17685-42592-9.

Disc 1:

1. Mass in D major, Op- 123, Missa Solemnis Kyrie – 10:39 – Arturo Toscanini

2. Mass in D major, Op- 123, Missa Solemnis Gloria – 16:48 – Arturo Toscanini

3. Mass in D major, Op- 123, Missa Solemnis Credo – 18:13 – Arturo Toscanini

Disc 2:

1. Mass in D major, Op- 123, Missa Solemnis Sanctus – 17:38 – Arturo Toscanini

2. Mass in D major, Op- 123, Missa Solemnis Agnus Dei – 15:39 – Arturo Toscanini

3. Fantasia in C minor, Op- 80, Choral Fantasy – 16:16 – Arturo Toscanini

Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis, was originally intended to be performed at the installation of his friend and patron Rudolph, Archduke of Austria, as Archbishop of Olmütz in Moravia. It is a work grand in scale and at many points, simply over the top. In my opinion, it is a piece that we have been stuck with hearing and performing simply because it is a large work by a major composer. In reality, it is fraught with problems, and many of the performances that I have come across are merely shouting matches between a chorus that is consistently asked to sing too high and loud for too long, and an orchestra that is at the very least, overblown. Having said all that, we are still left to contend with the piece, as it has made its way into the canon, if only on the fringes.

Guild have presented a very well assembled and attractively presented recording of the 1940 live broadcast of the Missa, which Arturo Toscanini conducted as a benefit for the National Conference of Christians and Jews. There are a number of positives that make this recording worth owning, if only as a historical document. That the recording even exists is thanks in great part to the work of the late Robert Hupka, who was employed by RCA during the NBC Symphony years, and is as famous today for the nearly one thousand photographs that he surreptitiously took of Toscanini, as he is for being a valiant crusader for the careful preservation of the Toscanini broadcast archives. It is to his memory that this set is dedicated.

The performance is complete with the original announcer’s comments at the beginning of the program, and one gets a delightful sense of nostalgia for an era of cultural awareness and appreciation that has long since disappeared from the American mindset. In spite, however, of the historical significance of this broadcast, we are still faced with a number of problems that I would be remiss not to mention.

First, let us deal with the primitive sound of the recordings themselves. Although it is obvious that every possible care has been taken to preserve and enhance these aging masters, there are many lengthy passages, particularly the busy contrapuntal sections in theGloriaand Credothat are simply a blur of nearly indistinguishable notes and words. Historic or not, these passages are nearly unlistenable and severely detract from whatever enjoyment one may derive from this performance. The lack of balance between choir and orchestra, and even between the sections of the orchestra itself is also problematic. There is no shortage of episodes where the brass simply blare away and the strings and winds are left in the dust. Furthermore, despite the sublime singing of Jussi Bjoerling and Alexander Kipnis, we are still left with Zinka Milanov, who could never muster more than an ounce of subtlety. She bellows and swoops her way through the score with no sensitivity to the text to be found. Mezzo Bruna Castagna fares better, but she is often buried in the quartet.

The award for superior performance must go to NBC symphony concertmaster Mischa Mischakoff for his stunningly beautiful rendition of the lengthy aria for violin at the beginning of the Benedictus. His simple and unaffected playing is a welcome relief to the posturing and shouting to which we have been subjected for more than an hour heretofore.

The Westminster Choir under John Finley Williamson was considered to be the state of the art in those days, but his woofy, bellowing style of choral singing has long since become passé, and by the end of the score, one starts to feel for the bleeding throats of his singers.

The commercial recording of the Violin Concerto fares considerably better, both in sound quality and performance. Although Jascha Heifetz has oft been criticized for his technique-over-emotion manner of playing, he quite rises to the occasion in this engaging performance. His steely perfection may be off-putting to the romantics in the listening pool, but he finds plenty of drama in the extended opening movement, ample lyricism in the cantabile inner movement and the rollicking dance qualities of the rondo simply spring to life under his fingers. Orchestral balances are excellent, in spite of Toscanini’s tendency to push tempi into overdrive and to over-accent and over-dramatize certain passages.

Guild’s booklet is quite thorough, although a bit long on sycophantic tributes to the maestro. As I mentioned earlier, this disc is presented in tribute to Robert Hupka, and as such, we are subjected to his essay concerning Toscanini and the Missa. Hupka wears his heart on his sleeve when he speaks of this music, and his near idol worship of the conductor borders on the nauseous. In his defense, he does belong to the generation where maestros were worshipped as minor deities and the effusive language in his commentaries belies this mindset. It is high time though that we dispelled the myth of the infallibility of such figures as Toscanini and Furtwängler. Great as they were, they were the products of their time, and their aesthetic has perhaps outlived its legend. We should now be able to look back and evaluate the work of these giants of the past with a more realistic slant, shedding the cult of personality that has for so many years obscured some of the very real flaws in both their character and musicianship.

Perhaps the most interesting and valuable asset of this set is its portrayal of a time in American history when works of art and high culture were still valued by a more sizable portion of the population. More importantly, they were held in higher regard by the broadcast media, and we had persons like David Sarnoff to thank for placing such performances before the public in regular and prominent places.

Recommended with a few caveats for either history buffs or Toscanini fanatics.

I can’t imagine that this famous performance of the Missa Solemnis would face many detractors in respect of the fervour and articulacy of its response. It has long been held to be the greatest of Toscanini’s extant traversals and derives from a broadcast in December 1940; the 1953 NBC set was his only commercial recording but we are fortunate that this wartime broadcast has survived, as have an earlier 1935 broadcast in indifferent sound and an impressive 1939 BBC broadcast with Milanov, Thorburg, Koloman von Pataky and Nicola Moscona (BBC Legends BBCL4016-2).

The vivid drama is established immediately by the puncturing trumpets calls. These have given rise to claims that the recorded balance is askew; William Youngren in his notes makes a valiant case for the defence but I think unavailingly. There are deficiencies in the sound spectrum but it could hardly be otherwise in a work such as this, which requires the most acute of balancing. Nevertheless apart from the solo singers, who are forwardly balanced, the Westminster Choir makes a splendid impression. They were obviously well rehearsed by their choirmaster and sound passionately engaged and tightly focused in the Kyrie. The orchestra is equally on top form, responding with decisive power to Toscanini’s breakneck speed in the Gloria – which after a furious start relaxes. Vocally Björling and Kipnis take the greatest honours with their unmatched response to the drama (the former’s entrance in the Credo is particularly telling, as is the latter’s nobility and declamation in the Benedictus). But Castagna, substituting for the ill Thorburg, is also impressive in the Sanctus and Milanov joins orchestral leader Mischa Mischakoff in wondrous phrasing in the Benedictus. The copies utilised do have some scuffs – these are noticeable particularly in the Gloria and the Agnus Dei but the sound is genuinely vivid and immediate. As for the performance it’s incandescent.

Coupled with it is the famous Heifetz-Toscanini recording of the Beethoven Violin Concerto made earlier in the year, once more with the NBC Orchestra. This has last appeared on a Naxos disc where it’s conjoined with the 1939 Heifetz Brahms Violin Concerto conducted by Koussevitzky – I reviewed it on this site and for interpretative matters I would direct readers there. Richard Caniell, eminence grise of the enterprise, notes that this transfer was undertaken as a result of complaints regarding the RCA BMG CD transfer. So for this transfer they have utilised a commercial set in what they state to be “a better sonic transfer” despite very honestly noting that the originals were “afflicted with sporadic instances of grit and ticks not hearable in the RCA disc.” As well as the grit there are also a few residual thumps familiar to 78 collectors and also, rather more damagingly, the loss of a beat and a half in a side join in the first movement (at 12.42). Of the two transfers whilst I admire Guild’s honesty and ambition it’s the Naxos to which you should turn.

I suspect though that you will have long ago have acquired the Heifetz-Toscanini. If you have the commercial Missa Solemnis I would augment it with this demonstrably superior and blazing performance. It’s one of the greatest, if not thegreatest accounts ever committed to disc.

Beethoven_Toscanini_paco034This is a live NBC radio broadcast from Carnegie Hall, made on 28 March 1953, its source being a “recording from the private collection of Christophe Pizzutti”. As such, it inevitably invites comparison with the RCA recording made with the same forces, in the same venue, begun only three days later on 30 March and completed over 31 March and 2 April. Pristine have also produced an “ambient stereo” remastering of the RCA recording which I have not yet heard, but which they claim “ is the extraction of the natural reverberation as captured in the original recording and the opening of this out onto a stereo soundfield.” I should like to hear that, too, but note that Pristine concede that no modern remastering can address the main shortcoming of the RCA recording, which is that the soloists are placed too far back. The remedying of that defect, conveniently, is the main virtue of this live broadcast – but that comes at a price, which is a prominent hiss. The slightly dull ambience of the RCA version, even in its sharpened up 1998 incarnation (in a 2 CD BMG classics set with the “Choral Symphony”) is certainly easier on the ear but orchestral details are submerged and the solo voices less immediate. The disciplined but impassioned chorus emerge intact in both recordings and both convey not only the greatness of the work itself but the supremacy and conviction of Toscanini as its supreme interpreter.

The radio announcements and audience applause have been edited in order to fit CD duration limit and one peculiarity is noted: “An organ malfunction during the Kyrie rendered it inoperable for the rest of the performance.” This results in some diminution in the heft of the continuo but it is scarcely noticeable except just before the return to the main subject of the “Kyrie”, otherwise the double-basses carry the burden adequately and I really don’t think it should be a factor.

Comparisons with Toscanini’s earlier performances might be artistically enlightening but the sound of the famous 1940 version places it beyond any but the most enthusiastic historical buff when looking for a recording to live with. One thing is clear: once Toscanini had assimilated this monumental work into his concert repertoire he performed it more and more frequently and at an increasingly brisk pace without sacrificing any expressiveness, such was his care for rhythm, dynamics, phrasing and balance. The 1953 NBC recording is a full five minutes faster than that of 1940 and this live one sits exactly in between the two, mainly the result of the first two movements being more leisurely, at a minute and a half and a minute longer respectively, than that NBC version. I prefer the immediacy of the NBC tempi, but this being Toscanini, he makes all three work. In any case, the “Kyrie” has no metronome markings to act as a guide, even if one were to take any notice of such things. One thing is for sure: the Robert Shaw Chorale must have at first been terrified by the tempo he set for the notoriously challenging “Et vitam venture” – but they hang on and it makes for a thrilling ride. Timings for the last three movements are otherwise pretty much identical for both 1953 versions. Toscanini remains the quickest out of Karajan, Klemperer and Bernstein, and despite his “Gloria” being, for example, three minutes shorter than Giulini’s slightly turgid version, there is never any sense of undue hurry, merely a massive momentum and certainty of purpose. Even the most fervent admirer of Bernstein might concede that his evident reverence for this music occasionally tempts him into too etiolated and, yes,”indulgent” an interpretation compared with Toscanini’s more virile directness. I still love Karajan’s rapt account of the “Sanctus” and “Benedictus” with his ideal team of soloists, but find nothing lacking in Toscanini’s poised control here, which is ably enhanced by the beautiful playing of Daniel Guilet, the NBC concertmaster. Having said that, no violinist quite approaches Karajan’s legendary Michel Schwalbe for eloquence and purity of tone, even if the delicacy of Krebbers in the Bernstein set is also very beguiling. Overall, the closest comparison for precision, energy and attack is to be found, somewhat surprisingly, in Klemperer’s celebrated 1965 recording with the redoubtable New Philharmonic Chorus trained by Wilhelm Pitz.

Key moments in this account come off so well owing to Toscanini’s famed combination of discipline, rhythmic precision and overt emotionalism. Hence the attack of the strings at “crucifixus” is heart-wrenching, contrasting tellingly with the beatific sense of the awe and mystery of the Incarnation, so powerfully conveyed by Conley at the words “homo factus est”.

Given that one of Toscanini’s many strengths was securing balance between orchestral voices, we must assume that he consciously made the decision to place the soloists further back from the microphone than we now find ideal. Certainly Jerome Hine’s sonorous, thunderous bass could overpower other voices and one of the pleasures of this live recording is that we can now hear both him and that grossly under-rated tenor, Eugene Conley, much more clearly. It is in fact the men who most benefit from the sharper acoustic of this recording; the gentler ambience of the NBC recording softens Nan Merriman’s rapid, flickering vibrato and prevents it sounding too close to a flutter. Similarly, it flatters Lois Marshall’s occasional impurity and slight scratchiness of tone compared with the almost otherworldly, disembodied flutiness of Gundula Janowitz’s soprano. Nonetheless, Marshall delivers a courageous and generous performance; her pitch is true and her fervour wholly convincing.

This new recording amply demonstrates the advantages of different microphone placement and forms a desirable adjunct to the commercial recording. Both provide ample evidence that in performance Toscanini was guided by the composer’s fervent superscription to this great Mass: “Von Herzen – möge es wieder – zu Herzen gehen”.



GTIN13: 0724356754621
Verschijningsdatum: 13. januari 2008
Aantal discs 1
Aantal tracks: 11
Speelduur: 79:26

This was Otto Klemperer’s second recording of the Missa Solemnis. He had made a grave and imposing mono version for Vox in 1951 that may have prevented a stereo recording for EMI until the years after his long relationship at that company with Walter Legge had ended. For his admirers it was certainly worth waiting for and hasn’t been out of the catalogue since it first appeared in 1965. In fact so commanding and distinctive a version is it that I’m surprised EMI has taken so long to re-issue it under this livery. However this is not to say it would top my list of recommendations for this work.

The glory of the recording has always been the singing of the New Philharmonia Chorus, still trained at that time by the legendary Wilhelm Pitz and what a memorial to their old chorus master their contribution is. Their concentration, accuracy and fervour still blazes at us down the years, especially as they are balanced quite close. Lesser choruses would suffer from such microphone exposure but a great chorus like this thrives on it and we can hear every word they sing. This as a recording from a time when producers recognised that listening at home is a different experience from listening in a concert hall and hearing this kind of balance again is a reminder of times past. Lesser choruses would also be exposed by some of Klemperer’s measured tempi but these don’t bother this group of singers one bit and they seem to thrive in spite of the obstacles Klemperer is placing in their way. If the chorus deserves superlatives the orchestra is not far behind. By then they were completely Klemperer’s orchestra producing the kind of sound he demanded as second nature. It’s a very unalloyed sound palette with broadly defined colours absolutely characteristic of this conductor. But it’s one that in the end I don’t feel suits the devotional aspects of this work very well, superbly though the orchestra realises it for their old chief. It tends particularly to stress strength at the expense of feeling . I am much less happy with the soloists too. On paper they look an excellent group, yet in performance they sound semi-detached from what is going on. Neither Kmentt nor Söderström are at their best and, though he is the star of the group on this occasion, Talvela sounds unsuited to some passages, notably the Benedictus.

However, the real problem in being able to recommend this recording to anyone other than Klemperer collectors is Klemperer himself. What in the Kyrie comes over as a tempo and sound to convey granite-like strength and sense of travail at the start of our journey in the Gloria just turns to dull plodding in music capable of so much more energy and rapture. Likewise in the Credo fugues Klemperer doesn’t manage to energise, rather he seems to believe the God he is telling us to worship is a stern-faced headmaster with chalk in his veins. That clearly is Klemperer’s particular vision for this work and there is no doubt he delivers this unerringly no matter how ultimately inappropriate it seems overall.

Klemperer admirers will need this recording for reference. It is central to his legacy and thoroughly characteristic. Those who want a more central and approachable version of this work should consider recordings by Levine (DG), Shaw (Teldec) and Harnoncourt (Telarc).

With no slight intended to the other great recordings of the Missa Solemnis in the world, there’s this one and then there are all the rest. Truly. Even with the 1940 Toscanini and the 1974 Böhm, this 1965 recording of Otto Klemperer and the Philharmonia Orchestra and Chorus embodies everything that’s great about the Missa Solemnis. And everything that’s great about late Beethoven is in the Missa Solemnis: the energy, the nobility, the strength, the vision, and — above all — the overwhelming sense that the numinous is imminent. Beethoven thought it was his best work and who could not agree? That’s what’s in Klemperer’s performance. His command of the score and control of the orchestra are complete, but it is Klemperer’s ability to take the musicians beyond themselves, to go beyond making music to be made music, and to incarnate Beethoven’s transcendent revelation in sound that puts this recording in a class of its own. Or rather, that puts it in the same exalted class as Klemperer’s German Requiem and St. Matthew Passion, the class of the sublime. EMI’s stereo sound was magnificent in its day and its remastering is ideal.

Disk 1 (CD)

  • 1 Missa solemnis, Op.123 (2001 – Remaster): Kyrie
    09:26 Otto Klemperer/Elisabeth Söderström/Waldemar Kmentt/Marga Höffgen/Martti Talvela/New Philharmonia Chorus/New Philharmoni Ludwig van Beethoven
  • 2 Missa solemnis, Op.123 (2001 – Remaster), Gloria: Gloria in excelsis Deo
    05:21 Otto Klemperer/Elisabeth Söderström/Waldemar Kmentt/Marga Höffgen/Martti Talvela/New Philharmonia Chorus/New Philharmoni Ludwig van Beethoven
  • 3 Missa solemnis, Op.123 (2001 – Remaster), Gloria: Qui tollis
    05:41 Otto Klemperer/Elisabeth Söderström/Waldemar Kmentt/Marga Höffgen/Martti Talvela/New Philharmonia Chorus/New Philharmoni Ludwig van Beethoven
  • 4 Missa solemnis, Op.123 (2001 – Remaster), Gloria: Quoniam tu solus sanctus
    07:16 Otto Klemperer/Elisabeth Söderström/Waldemar Kmentt/Marga Höffgen/Martti Talvela/New Philharmonia Chorus/New Philharmoni Ludwig van Beethoven
  • 5 Missa solemnis, Op.123 (2001 – Remaster), Credo: Credo in unum Deum
    04:17 Otto Klemperer/Elisabeth Söderström/Waldemar Kmentt/Marga Höffgen/Martti Talvela/New Philharmonia Chorus/New Philharmoni Ludwig van Beethoven
  • 6 Missa solemnis, Op.123 (2001 – Remaster), Credo: Et incarnatus est
    05:17 Otto Klemperer/Elisabeth Söderström/Waldemar Kmentt/Marga Höffgen/Martti Talvela/New Philharmonia Chorus/New Philharmoni Ludwig van Beethoven
  • 7 Missa solemnis, Op.123 (2001 – Remaster), Credo: Et resurrexit
    11:06 Otto Klemperer/Elisabeth Söderström/Waldemar Kmentt/Marga Höffgen/Martti Talvela/New Philharmonia Chorus/New Philharmoni Ludwig van Beethoven
  • 8 Missa solemnis, Op.123 (2001 – Remaster), Sanctus: Sanctus
    05:29 Otto Klemperer/Elisabeth Söderström/Waldemar Kmentt/Marga Höffgen/Martti Talvela/New Philharmonia Chorus/New Philharmoni Ludwig van Beethoven
  • 9 Missa solemnis, Op.123 (2001 – Remaster), Sanctus: Benedictus
    10:19 Otto Klemperer/Elisabeth Söderström/Waldemar Kmentt/Marga Höffgen/Martti Talvela/New Philharmonia Chorus/New Philharmoni Ludwig van Beethoven
  • 10 Missa solemnis, Op.123 (2001 – Remaster), Agnus Dei: Agnus Dei
    06:04 Otto Klemperer/Elisabeth Söderström/Waldemar Kmentt/Marga Höffgen/Martti Talvela/New Philharmonia Chorus/New Philharmoni Ludwig van Beethoven
  • 11 Missa solemnis, Op.123 (2001 – Remaster), Agnus Dei: Dona nobis pacem
    09:10 Otto Klemperer/Elisabeth Söderström/Waldemar Kmentt/Marga Höffgen/Martti Talvela/New Philharmonia Chorus/New Philharmoni Ludwig van Beethoven



GTIN13: 0028943539128
Verschijningsdatum: 16. februari 1993
Aantal discs 1
Aantal tracks: 7
Speelduur: 62:06

Beethoven: Concertaria Ah perfido! Op. 65; Cantate Meeresstille und Glückliche Fahrt op. 112; Mis in C op. 86. Charlotte Margiono (s), Catherine Robbin (ms). William Kendall (t), Alastair Miles (bs) met het Monteverdikoor en het Orchestre révolutionaire et romanique o.l.v.John Eliot Gardiner. Archiv 435.391-2 (62’04”). 1989/91

Beethovens op verzoek van prins Nikolaus Esterházy (Haydns werkgever) geschreven Mis in C uit 1807 was aanvankelijk geen succes en werd ten jaar later overschaduwd door zijn grote broer, de Missa solemnis. De componist was geen specialist op het gebied van liturgische muziek, mar met deze mis schreef hij wel een mooi lyrisch, en vooral overpeinzend werk dat met het Kyrie als een vriendelijk gebed om vergeving begint.

Het lijkt Gardiner er om te gaan de betekenis van iedere frase van het werk nieuw te overdenken en vorm te geven en daar vervolgens een gevoel van drama aan mee te geven. Het resultaat klinkt met zijn ‘authentieke’ achtergrond heel verfrissend.

De koppeling met de dramatische concertaria Ah perfido! is zeer de moeite waard en Charlotte Margiono blinkt daarin uit; dat ook nog plaats was voor de korte koorcantate Meeresstille undglückliche Fahrt is een fijne bijkomstigheid. Ook dit werk krijgt dankzijn de levendige koorinbreng bijzonder treffend gestalte.

Wie een even mooi en waardevol klinkende andere opname van de Mis wenst, zal tevreden zijn met de lezing van Hickox, die in plaats van de concertaria de zelden gehoorde cantate Elegischer Gesang biedt.

  • 1 Ah, perfido op. 65 (Konzertarie für Sopran und Orchester)
    12:39 Margiono/Robbin/Gardiner/ORR Beethoven, Ludwig van
  • 2 Meeresstille und glückliche Fahrt (Original Version)
    07:18 Margiono/Robbin/Gardiner/ORR Beethoven, Ludwig van
  • 3 Kyrie (Original Version)
    05:42 Margiono/Robbin/Gardiner/ORR Beethoven, Ludwig van
  • 4 Gloria: Gloria in excelsis Deo (Original Version)
    08:49 Margiono/Robbin/Gardiner/ORR Beethoven, Ludwig van
  • 5 Credo: Credo in unum Deum (Original Version)
    10:30 Margiono/Robbin/Gardiner/ORR Beethoven, Ludwig van
  • 6 Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus – Osanna in excelsis (Original Version)
    10:47 Margiono/Robbin/Gardiner/ORR Beethoven, Ludwig van
  • 7 Agnus Dei (Original Version)
    06:21 Margiono/Robbin/Gardiner/ORR Beethoven, Ludwig van




This interesting new Fidelio–one of over a dozen available–has a couple of things going very much in its favor, and a couple against it, too. A great pro is the leadership of Daniel Barenboim, who wrings from the orchestra and chorus fabulous playing and singing; just on a symphonic level, this is worth hearing. Barenboim also paces the work sensibly–those who do not like huge, glacial performances of this opera (i.e., fans of the superb Klemperer or various Furtwängler readings) or the “new school” of Beethoven conducting that seems to prefer racing through his music (occasionally in Gardiner or Harnoncourt) will welcome the inner tension Barenboim deeply understands in the music as well as his sympathy for his singers. This set grew out of a live performance in which all dialogue was cut and replaced, at times, with a flashback narration by Leonore. Here we get only the music Beethoven composed with no dialogue at all; the text Leonore spoke is printed in the accompanying booklet. It’s not enough–one misses some dialogue, however brief and abbreviated, between numbers. This seems like a set of highlights without any. The quality of the soloists varies: Soile Isokoski and Werner Güra make a nice pair of youngsters; René Pape’s Rocco is exactly the right combination of toady and good guy and he sings gloriously, and Falk Struckmann draws Pizarro villainously and manages his way around the difficult music. Domingo’s Florestan is handsomely sung–almost too Italianately beautiful at times–but well thought through, and if not quite on the Jon Vickers level, certainly not terribly far away. Waltraud Meier’s career continues to astonish. This pushed-up mezzo with an ugly tone has intelligence and passion in her voice, but the sound is curdled. Doesn’t anyone notice that she sings off key and harshly half the time? So, a mixed bag: Domingo and Barenboim fans will need this, but it’s like getting only a part of Fidelio (Barenboim, by the way, begins the opera with the Leonore Overture No. 2; an appendix includes the other three overtures Beethoven wrote for this work), and Meier is outclassed by every other Leonore on CD. Why not go for the recent Halasz reading on Naxos? It’s good, it’s cheap, and there’s just enough dialogue to keep the plot intelligible. –Robert Levine


Fidelio, opera, Op. 72
1 Overture (Op. 72)
Daniel Barenboim / Staatskapelle Berlin / Plácido Domingo / Waltraud Meier
2 Act 1. Arie. O wär’ ich schon mit dir vereint
Daniel Barenboim / Staatskapelle Berlin / Plácido Domingo / Waltraud Meier
3 Act 1. Duett. Jetzt, Schätzchen, jetzt sind wir allein
Daniel Barenboim / Staatskapelle Berlin / Plácido Domingo / Waltraud Meier
4 Act 1. Quartett. Mir ist so wunderbar
Daniel Barenboim / Staatskapelle Berlin / Plácido Domingo / Waltraud Meier
5 Act 1. Arie. Hat man nicht auch Gold beineben
Daniel Barenboim / Staatskapelle Berlin / Plácido Domingo / Waltraud Meier
6 Act 1. Terzett. Gut, Söhnchen, gut
Daniel Barenboim / Staatskapelle Berlin / Plácido Domingo / Waltraud Meier
7 Act 1. Marsch
Daniel Barenboim / Staatskapelle Berlin / Plácido Domingo / Waltraud Meier
8 Act 1. Arie mit Chor. Ha, welch ein Augenblick!
Daniel Barenboim / Staatskapelle Berlin / Plácido Domingo / Waltraud Meier
9 Act 1. Duett. Jetzt, Alter, hat es Eile!
Daniel Barenboim / Staatskapelle Berlin / Plácido Domingo / Waltraud Meier
10 Act 1. Rezitativ und Arie. Abscheulicher, wo eilst du hin
Daniel Barenboim / Staatskapelle Berlin / Plácido Domingo / Waltraud Meier
11 Act 1. Rezitativ und Arie. Komm, Hoffnung, laß’ den letzten Stern
Daniel Barenboim / Staatskapelle Berlin / Plácido Domingo / Waltraud Meier
12 Act 1. Finale. O welche Lust
Daniel Barenboim / Staatskapelle Berlin / Plácido Domingo / Waltraud Meier
13 Act 1. Finale. Nun sprecht, wie ging’s?
Daniel Barenboim / Staatskapelle Berlin / Plácido Domingo / Waltraud Meier
14 Act 1. Finale. Leb wohl, du warmes Sonnenlicht
Daniel Barenboim / Staatskapelle Berlin / Plácido Domingo / Waltraud Meier

Track Listing – Disc 2
1 Act 2. Introduktion und Arie. Gott! – Welch Dunkel hier!
Daniel Barenboim / Staatskapelle Berlin / Plácido Domingo / Waltraud Meier
2 Act 2. Introduktion und Arie. In des Lebens Frühlingstagen
Daniel Barenboim / Staatskapelle Berlin / Plácido Domingo / Waltraud Meier
3 Act 2. Melodram und Duett. Wie kalt ist es
Daniel Barenboim / Staatskapelle Berlin / Plácido Domingo / Waltraud Meier
4 Act 2. Melodram und Duett. Nur hurtig fort, nur frisch gegraben
Daniel Barenboim / Staatskapelle Berlin / Plácido Domingo / Waltraud Meier
5 Act 2. Terzett. Euch werde Lohn
Daniel Barenboim / Staatskapelle Berlin / Plácido Domingo / Waltraud Meier
6 Act 2. Quartett. Er sterbe!
Daniel Barenboim / Staatskapelle Berlin / Plácido Domingo / Waltraud Meier
7 Act 2. Duett. O namenlose Freude!
Daniel Barenboim / Staatskapelle Berlin / Plácido Domingo / Waltraud Meier
8 Act 2. Finale. Heil sei dem Tag
Daniel Barenboim / Staatskapelle Berlin / Plácido Domingo / Waltraud Meier
9 Act 2. Finale. Des besten Königs Wink und Wille
Daniel Barenboim / Staatskapelle Berlin / Plácido Domingo / Waltraud Meier
10 Act 2. Finale. Wer ein holdes Weib errungen
Daniel Barenboim / Staatskapelle Berlin / Plácido Domingo / Waltraud Meier
11 Leonore Overture No. 1 in C major, Op. 138
Daniel Barenboim / Staatskapelle Berlin / Plácido Domingo / Waltraud Meier
12 Leonore Overture No. 3 in C major, Op. 72b
Daniel Barenboim / Staatskapelle Berlin / Plácido Domingo / Waltraud Meier
13 Fidelio, overture, Op. 72c
Daniel Barenboim / Staatskapelle Berlin / Plácido Domingo / Waltraud Meier

his highly idiosyncratic project derives from semi-staged performances given in Chicago, where the dialogue was replaced by a narration (written by the distinguished writer-critic, Edward Said) given to Leonore, viewing the events of the opera some years on. That bizarre idea has sensibly been abandoned here – though part of the narration is printed in the booklet – but unfortunately the dialogue hasn’t been restored. As Furtwangler’s old set illustrates, its omission draws most of the drama from the work. Even Walter Legge, who disliked including dialogue on disc, relented when Klemperer came to record the opera. You really cannot perform this great human document with any meaning if, for instance, you omit the exchanges between Leonore, Florestan and Rocco after the duet in Act 2. Did the presence of Domingo, whose German is indifferent, have anything to do with this strange decision?
Then Barenboim opts for the overture (now known as Leonore No 2), played at the first version’s premiere in 1805 – another odd choice – and reverses the order of the two opening numbers, again following Beethoven’s original idea. After that Barenboim reverts to the usual 1814 score. Leonore No 2 being the dullest of the work’s four overtures, the performance gets off to a lame start, but thankfully you can programme in the Fidelio Overture, as it is included with the two other Leonores at the end of the recording.
Barenboim’s interpretation, obviously influenced by Furtwangler’s, is for the most part clear and perceptive, evincing a predictable understanding of the score’s inner workings, but it sometimes seems too deliberate, wanting forward pulse, nowhere more so than in the final section of Act 1, ‘Lebwohl, du warmes Sonnenlicht’, where Barenboim takes as much as two minutes longer than Halasz on his recent and recommendable Naxos set. The playing of the conductor’s Berlin Staatskapelle, refined in detail, impressive in dramatic elan, and the singing of the State Opera Chorus are the most enjoyable contributions to the set. Both are caught in a clear, well-balanced recording, typical of Teldec.
The Roccos are well cast. Father is more than safe in Pape’s glorious, astutely etched singing, though he sounds a shade youthful for the old gaoler. By contrast Isokoski, who offers rounded tone and appealing sincerity, sounds a mite mature for Marzelline. How one would like her to have tackled Leonore, possibly giving us a performance in the mould of Nielsen on Naxos. Meier’s approach is forthright, almost aggressive. She delivers the role in often raw sounds: where, one wonders, has the rescuing wife’s warmth gone? While one has to admire the fearless attack and dramatic bite of her singing, as at ‘Noch heute’, she is not in the class of Rysanek for Fricsay or Nilsson for Maazel.
Inevitably by the side of Meier’s meaningful diction, that of Domingo as Florestan sounds unidiomatic and at times uncommunicative. As for his singing, it is of course good to hear his powerful tenor approach the familiar phrases with such breadth and security, but the emotions expressed are generalised, the tone muscular, when set beside Winbergh’s varied, easily shaped account of the part on Naxos or McCracken’s anguished utterance for Maazel. Nothing in this reading really goes beyond the excellently articulated notes – and that won’t do.
Struckmann’s Pizarro is suitably nasty, but his sometimes unsteady singing doesn’t match that of Titus for Halasz, Krause for Maazel, Berry for Klemperer. The Jaquino and Fernando are both good, but Barenboim makes another weird decision by giving the First Prisoner’s words to the choral tenors. The whole point here surely is for a single voice to make its special appeal within the context of the whole group.
No, if you want a romantic approach, Klemperer remains the choice. Those who want something more direct and viscerally dramatic, with forces more attuned to Beethoven’s concept, cannot do better than the Halasz, a recording that takes us into the theatre, and an experience akin to that which excited the original hearers in 1814, while Maazel and his su-perb cast, at mid-price, grip this score like no other.’



It was Abbado’s second Berlin Philharmonic symphony cycle from 2001 which thrust him more or less unexpectedly into the ranks of the immortals where Beethoven is concerned. And it was seven years after that, in Reggio Emilia in 2008, that he conducted his first Fidelio. Like Furtwängler in his 1953 studio recording, Abbado leads a viscerally charged performance that flies to the very heart of the matter, and does so in a version which, stripping away much of the spoken dialogue, recreates Beethoven’s lofty Singspiel as musical metatheatre.

The recording derives from two semi-staged concert performances, the audience happily sensed but not heard. Technically the recording is first-rate but, then, you need no sonic-stage trickery in the dungeon scene in a performance which reveals as exactingly as this how Beethoven’s own orchestrations are key. One of the many glories of this thrillingly articulated Fidelio is the playing of the basses and lower strings, sharp-featured and black as the pit of Acheron.

The revised spoken text is by stage director Tatjana Gürbaca. In Act 1 she prunes and rewrites, minimising the text’s domesticities; in Act 2 she preserves the melodrama but omits most else. There is no breathless announcement from Jaquino after the trumpet calls, no heart-stopping exchange between Florestan and Leonore before “O namenlose Freude”. After Pizarro’s entry, Act 2 becomes a choral cantata, albeit one happily devoid of an inserted Leonore No 3.

The cast is mostly distinguished. If there has been a better Marzelline on record than Rachel Harnisch, I have not heard her. The same might be said of Christof Fischesser’s Rocco and Falk Struckmann’s Pizarro; not that one forgets Gottlob Frick (Klemperer’s Rocco and Furtwängler’s) or Hans Hotter, Klemperer’s Pizarro on his unforgettable live Covent Garden performance, a true theatre Fidelio, more interestingly cast than the fabled but slightly more sedate EMI studio version.

Nina Stemme is very much the Leonore de nos jours, less human than Jurinac live at Covent Garden but apt to the newer version’s less domesticated vision. I could have done without Jonas Kaufmann’s 12-second crescendo on Florestan’s annunciatory “Gott!” – René Kollo did something similar for Bernstein (DG, 10/78R) – more vocal stunt than human utterance and offering a foretaste of vocal discolorations to come.

But that, in the end, is a trifle. This is the best-conducted Fidelio since Furtwängler’s; a joy to experience and a privilege to possess.

GTIN13: 0028947825517
Verschijningsdatum: 02. augustus 2011
Aantal discs 2
Aantal tracks: 30
Speelduur: 114:59

BeethovenFidelio op.72. Nina Stemme, Jonas Kaufmann, Falk Struckmann, Christof Fischesser, Rachel Harnisch, Christoph Strehl, Peter Mattei, Juan Sebastian Acosta en Levente Pall met het Arnold Schönberg koor en het Mahler Kamerorkest/Luzern festival orkest o.l.v. Claudio Abbado. Decca 478.2552/3 (2 cd’s, 1u 55’02”). 2010

Het is vreemd te bedenken dat van Abbado, die ongetwijfeld in zijn Weense jaren Fidelio heeft gedirigeerd tot 2010 wachtte (of moest wachten) voordat hij bij zijn (incidentele?) terugkeer tot Decca aleer hij deze opera vastlegde. Of er van deze gebeurtenis nog een dvd verschijnt? De opera is natuurlijk vrij statisch zodat de simpele enscenering van Tatjana Gürbaca die ook wat snoeide in de gesproken monologen en dialogen zonder de essentie aan te tasten volkomen bevredigt.

Op het vrij schaarse, van internet te plukken (en in het tekstboekje ontbrekende) fotomateriaal is te zien dat het hier niet in Mahlerformaat aantredende orkest bijna op zaalhoogte speelt; de geringe actie is sobere kostuums en met donkere lappen gestoffeerde toneel speelt zich op het originele podium af en het koor staat op de even gesloopte balkonplaatsen rijen.

De dirigent, de laatste jaren op zoek naar authenticiteit, kwam terecht bij de Alkor Edition (Kassel), deel van Bärenreiter, zodat het uitgangspunt keurig in orde is. Een tweede belangrijk pluspunt is de bezetting. Het gaat niet alleen om sterren van formaat in de belangrijke rollen, maar ook om van nature Duitstaligen die hun voordracht meteen al in dit opzicht laten klinken zoals het hoort.

Voor de heftig emotionele ondertonen van de opera die meteen al in de ouverture doorklinken en vervolgens via het welsprekende kwartet en de stijgende spanning van de kerkerscène tot het moment van de bevrijding van Florestan vinden Abbado en zijn team precies de juiste toon in een geconcentreerde, zich logisch ontwikkelende uitvoering.

Hij moet ook zijn goed voorbereide zangers hebben geïnspireerd. Nina Stemme is een Leonore die prachtig intens haar strijd tegen het kwaad, haar toewijding en haar verdriet weet te uiten. Kaufmann is een letterlijk zeer gekwelde en gepijnigde Florestan, Falk Struckmann de vleesgeworden terreur als Pizarro, de in wezen onbeduidende man die met teveel macht is bekleed en deze misbruikt. Christof Fischessers vaderlijke, warmbloedige Rocco, Rachel Harnischs bekoorlijke, gretige Marzelline, Christoph Strehls montere, jeugdige Jacquino en Peter Mattei als nobele Don Fernando tillen de hele uitvoering op het heel homogeen hoogste niveau. De toewijding aan de materie stroomt van alle kanten toe.

De opname bevoordeelt de nu heel goed verstaanbare stemmen iets ten koste van het orkest, maar dat is een klein defect waar goed mee te leven valt.

In de Vergelijkende Discografie van slechts een paar maanden tevoren in 2011 kwamen Klemperer, Haitink, Masur en Harnoncourt naar voren als de overtuigendste pleitbezorgers van Fidelio. Ineens is daar deze geduchte rivaal bijgekomen die in menig opzicht aanspraak maakt op een eerste plaats.

Disk 1 (CD)

  • 1 Overture (Edited Helga Lühning & Robert Didio)
    06:20 Kaufmann,J./Stemme,N./Harnisch,R./Lucerne Festival Ludwig van Beethoven
  • 2 Jetzt, Schätchen, jetz sind wir allein (Act 1)
    04:53 Kaufmann,J./Stemme,N./Harnisch,R./Lucerne Festival Ludwig van Beethoven
  • 3 Seit Fidelio bei uns ist (Act 1)
    00:12 Kaufmann,J./Stemme,N./Harnisch,R./Lucerne Festival Ludwig van Beethoven
  • 4 O wär’ ich schon mit dir vereint (Act 1)
    03:41 Kaufmann,J./Stemme,N./Harnisch,R./Lucerne Festival Ludwig van Beethoven
  • 5 Ich täusche die Menschen (Act 1)
    00:54 Kaufmann,J./Stemme,N./Harnisch,R./Lucerne Festival Ludwig van Beethoven
  • 6 Mir ist so wunderbar (Act 1)
    04:31 Kaufmann,J./Stemme,N./Harnisch,R./Lucerne Festival Ludwig van Beethoven
  • 7 Marzelline und Fidelio haben sich offensichtlich recht lieb (Act 1)
    00:17 Kaufmann,J./Stemme,N./Harnisch,R./Lucerne Festival Ludwig van Beethoven
  • 8 Hat man nicht aud Gold beineben (Act 1)
    02:35 Kaufmann,J./Stemme,N./Harnisch,R./Lucerne Festival Ludwig van Beethoven
  • 9 In den finstersten Gewolben sitzt ein Gefangener (Act 1)
    00:30 Kaufmann,J./Stemme,N./Harnisch,R./Lucerne Festival Ludwig van Beethoven
  • 10 Gut, Sohnchen, gut (Act 1)
    06:39 Kaufmann,J./Stemme,N./Harnisch,R./Lucerne Festival Ludwig van Beethoven
  • 11 Marsch (Act 1)
    02:08 Kaufmann,J./Stemme,N./Harnisch,R./Lucerne Festival Ludwig van Beethoven
  • 12 Etwas Neues vorgefallen? (Act 1)
    00:49 Kaufmann,J./Stemme,N./Harnisch,R./Lucerne Festival Ludwig van Beethoven
  • 13 Ha! Welch ein Augenblick! (Act 1)
    03:31 Kaufmann,J./Stemme,N./Harnisch,R./Lucerne Festival Ludwig van Beethoven
  • 14 Und nun zu dir mein lieber Rocco (Act 1)
    00:05 Kaufmann,J./Stemme,N./Harnisch,R./Lucerne Festival Ludwig van Beethoven
  • 15 Jetzt, Alter, hat es Eile! (Act 1)
    05:14 Kaufmann,J./Stemme,N./Harnisch,R./Lucerne Festival Ludwig van Beethoven
  • 16 Abscheulicher! Wo eilst du hin? (Act 1)
    07:23 Kaufmann,J./Stemme,N./Harnisch,R./Lucerne Festival Ludwig van Beethoven
  • 17 Wie Fidelio das wieder geschafft hatte war mir ein Rätsel (Act 1)
    00:21 Kaufmann,J./Stemme,N./Harnisch,R./Lucerne Festival Ludwig van Beethoven
  • 18 O welche Lust (Act 1)
    06:56 Kaufmann,J./Stemme,N./Harnisch,R./Lucerne Festival Ludwig van Beethoven
  • 19 Nun sprecht, wie ging’s? (Act 1)
    05:20 Kaufmann,J./Stemme,N./Harnisch,R./Lucerne Festival Ludwig van Beethoven
  • 20 Ach, Vater, eilt! (Act 1)
    00:42 Kaufmann,J./Stemme,N./Harnisch,R./Lucerne Festival Ludwig van Beethoven
  • 21 Verwegener Alter (Act 1)
    01:50 Kaufmann,J./Stemme,N./Harnisch,R./Lucerne Festival Ludwig van Beethoven
  • 22 Leb wohl, du warmes Sonnenlicht (Act 1)
    03:45 Kaufmann,J./Stemme,N./Harnisch,R./Lucerne Festival Ludwig van Beethoven

Disk 2 (CD)

  • 1 Gott! – Welch Dunkel hier! (Act 2)
    11:24 Kaufmann,J./Stemme,N./Harnisch,R./Lucerne Festival Ludwig van Beethoven
  • 2 Wie kalt es ist diesem unterirdischen…Nur hurtig fort, nur Frisch gebraben (Act 2)
    05:54 Kaufmann,J./Stemme,N./Harnisch,R./Lucerne Festival Ludwig van Beethoven
  • 3 Ihr habt wieder geruht (Act 2)
    00:33 Kaufmann,J./Stemme,N./Harnisch,R./Lucerne Festival Ludwig van Beethoven
  • 4 Euch werde Lohn in bessern Welten (Act 2)
    06:31 Kaufmann,J./Stemme,N./Harnisch,R./Lucerne Festival Ludwig van Beethoven
  • 5 Ist alles bereit? (Act 2)
    00:08 Kaufmann,J./Stemme,N./Harnisch,R./Lucerne Festival Ludwig van Beethoven
  • 6 Er sterbe! (Act 2)
    05:03 Kaufmann,J./Stemme,N./Harnisch,R./Lucerne Festival Ludwig van Beethoven
  • 7 O namenlose Freude! (Act 2)
    03:04 Kaufmann,J./Stemme,N./Harnisch,R./Lucerne Festival Ludwig van Beethoven
  • 8 Heil se idem Tag, Heil sei der Stunde (Act 2)
    13:46 Kaufmann,J./Stemme,N./Harnisch,R./Lucerne Festival Ludwig van Beethoven

One of the outstanding qualities of this recording of Fidelio from the 2010 Lucerne Festival is the depth of the casting, down to the smallest roles; the singers in secondary and tertiary parts may not be internationally renowned, but they all deliver first-rate performances. Having a singer of Peter Mattei’s stature and distinctiveness as Don Fernando, who doesn’t even show up until the finale, is real luxury casting. Soprano Rachel Harnisch, bass Christof Fischesser, and tenor Christoph Strehl as Marzelline, Rocco, and Jaquino, are not widely familiar names, but their performances are simply superb, sharply characterized, and beautifully sung. Harnisch and Strehl’s duet that opens the opera establishes the expectation that this is going to be an exceptional performance, and when the quartet is joined by Fischesser and Nina Stemme in the title role, it is a marvel of musical subtlety and emotional complexity. Falk Struckmann is not entirely consistent as Don Pizarro; his presence is effectively menacing, but in the first act he tends to sound forced and his intonation in occasionally questionable. By the second act he seems to have found his footing and is far more persuasive. Tenor Jonas Kaufmanndelivers a powerfully dramatic performance and sounds even more baritonal than he usually does, which is appropriate for this role, especially in the aria that opens Act II. Stemme doesn’t come across with the personal force the role requires, but her singing is lovely and expressive throughout. Claudio Abbadoleads the Mahler Chamber Orchestra/Lucerne Festival Orchestra and Arnold Schoenberg Chor in a terrific performance of the score, by turns urgently propulsive and achingly lyrical. His insightful pacing and the sensitive orchestral playing contribute hugely to the impact of the performance. The sound is clean and detailed, but the voices generally could afford to be slightly more present; they certainly aren’t swamped by the orchestra but balance would have been finer if the soloists had been more in the foreground.



Beethoven had ieder jaar een nieuwe opera willen schrijven. Maar hij wees twaalf libretti af. Dus bleef het bij die ene opera in drie gedaantes: Leonore 1805, Leonore 1806 en Fidelio 1814. Die laatste werd een beroemd repertoirestuk, de andere twee musicologisch studiemateriaal. Als het aan René Jacobs ligt, wordt Leonore 1805 ook repertoire. Zo overtuigend was de uitvoering onder zijn leiding op 28 oktober in de NTR ZaterdagMatinee.


Eerste een kleine verrassing: het Freiburger Barockorchester zat in een bijzondere opstelling. Aan de rechterhand van de dirigent een blokje van acht houtblazers; eind achttiende, begin negentiende eeuw de ‘harmonie’ genaamd. In het midden in een lange rij de koperblazers. Daarvóór het strijkorkest, uitwaaierend naar links. De drie contrabassen vormden de achterhoede bij de harmonie. Die leverde een goed hoorbare klankbron in het ensemble.

Tweede, weliswaar te verwachten, verrassing was de ruimte rond het orkest, die inventief benut werd voor een semiscenische vertoning van het verhaal over de dappere, vasthoudende vrouw Leonore, die alles in het werk stelt om haar echtgenoot Florestan te bevrijden uit het doodshol waar hij gevangen zit.

De derde, echte verrassing: Leonore speelt in de versie van 1805 een veel ruimere rol dan in Beethovens definitieve versie uit 1814. De operatitel Leonore (volledig: Leonore, oder Der Triumph der ehelichen Liebe) is dan ook zeer terecht.

De première in 1805 bracht – om verschillende redenen – niet het succes waar Beethoven op had gehoopt. Goedbedoelde adviezen van vrienden om de opera in te korten, zetten Beethoven aan tot het schrappen van diverse passages, zoals de ‘goud-aria’ van Rocco de gevangenisdirecteur, en een duet tussen Leonore en Marzelline, dochter van Rocco en verliefd op de als jongeman vermomde Leonore. De drie bedrijven werden samengevat tot twee aktes. De presentatie in 1806 bleef echter steken bij twee uitvoeringen.

Beethoven legde het werk terzijde, maar in 1814 was de tijd rijp voor een herneming, weliswaar met wijzigingen, zoals in de partij van Florestan, die veel dramatischer werd ingevuld. Met een nieuwe ouverture, een gewijzigde afronding bij de bevrijding van Florestan en een nieuwe titel (Fidelio), ontstond de opera die nu wel succes beleefde.

Meer spanning

De live-beleving in de ZaterdagMatinee maakte duidelijk dat er sprake is van twee opera’s over hetzelfde onderwerp en van dezelfde componist. In de opzet met drie bedrijven krijgt de ontwikkeling van het verhaal per bedrijf meer spanning.

De nog in lichte toets geschreven eerste akte met het liefdesgekibbel tussen Marzelline en de cipier Jacquino en het geflirt van Marzelline met Leonore (René Jacobs noemt het een ‘Singspiel’) wordt gevolgd door een dramatisch gekleurd bedrijf waarin Leonore domineert in haar streven mee te mogen gaan naar de geheime gevangene. Het derde bedrijf voert naar de dramatische ontknoping met Florestan als tragische held in het centrum.

Geboeide Florestan

In de versie 1805 komt de problematische liefde tussen Marzelline en Leonore ook aan de orde, in een ontroerend duet, met viool en cello omspeeld. Het geeft contour aan de diepe gevoelens van angst en woede die Leonore echt beroeren. “Breek nog niet, vermoeid hart”, zingt zij als inleiding op haar grote aria ‘Komm Hoffnung’, die uitgebreider is dan in Fidelio 1814 en die gekenmerkt wordt door coloraturen (in Fidelio 1814 niet aanwezig), die soepel uit de mond van Marlis Petersen stroomden. Met haar lichte stem kon zij ook de felle kanten (in haar confrontatie met gevangenisgouverneur Don Pizarro) perfect invullen.


Maximilian Schmitt werd vooraf geëxcuseerd vanwege een verkoudheid, maar zijn tenor had genoeg kracht om de rol van Florestan in te kleuren. In de enscenering werd hij tijdens de zachte, spannende orkestrale inleiding door Rocco over de lange trap naar het podium gevoerd – handen geboeid en in een wit gevangenispak. Bovendien werd het zaallicht naar donker gedraaid, wat de spanning verhevigde. De scène deed terugdenken aan de ouverture (Leonore nr. 2), die in een dalende lijn het drama inzet. Een ouverture door Jacobs gekarakteriseerd als een symfonisch gedicht.

De partij van Florestan had een minder hallucinerende expressie als die wij kennen uit Fidelio 1814, beginnend met de geëxalteerde uitroep “Gott” en het visioen “wie ein Engel im rosigen Duft…”. Maar daar stond een uitgebreid liefdesduet tegenover, nadat Don Pizarro en Rocco het paar achterlaten in de kerker. Het leverde een logische overgang op naar de bevrijding, waarbij het schitterend zingende koor (Zürcher Sing-Akademie) in twee stromen de trappen afdaalde.

Virtuoze Freiburgers

Don Pizzaro kreeg in de stem van de Noorse bariton Johannes Weisser een donkere, duivelse scherpte – echt zijn rol. Naast Marlis Petersen schitterde de Amerikaanse Robin Johannsen met een kwikzilveren sopraan en een soepele acteerstijl.

De Russische bas Dimitry Ivashchenko paste naadloos in het karakter van Rocco, een partij die geen afwijking vertoont met de 1814-versie. De Oostenrijkse tenor Johannes Chum als Jacquino en de Duitse bas Tareq Nazmi als Don Fernando completeerden de topbezetting.

Het stormachtig gejuich na afloop gold beslist ook voor de Freiburgers, die virtuoos reageerden op Jacobs’ directie. Zijn pleidooi voor een ereplek van Leonore 1805 overtuigde volledig.

Leonore was Beethoven’s first version of Fidelio and René Jacobs eloquently champions the earlier score in this lithe live recording.

  • E7SARF623TD
  • GTIN3149020938331
  • Verschijningsdatum22.11.2019
  • Aantal discs 2


As we know it today, Fidelio, Beethoven’s only opera, was first performed in 1814. But it had begun life in 1805 as Leonore, when its premiere in Vienna, to an audience largely made up of French officers from Napoleon’s occupying army who could not understand any of the German text, had been a disaster. Beethoven revised the score immediately, cutting swathes and recasting the original three acts into two, but he was still unhappy with the result, which was withdrawn after two performances the following year. When it emerged again, eight years later, both the music and the words had been even more substantially altered, and this time the premiere was a huge success.

Yet though Fidelio is now a central part of the operatic repertory, some insist that the 1805 Leonore is the better, more dramatically convincing work. One of those is John Eliot Gardiner, who in 1997 conducted one of the three previous recordings of the original score, and another is René Jacobs, who is responsible for this latest one. According to Jacobs, not only does the 1805 three-act version have the better, more musically daring overture (now known in the concert hall as Leonore No 2) but Beethoven’s revisions and compressions removed first-rate music from the score, notably an entire aria in the first act for Rocco, and a duet for Leonore and Marzelline in the second, doing severe damage to the work’s dramaturgy.

Jacobs’ recording, taken from a live performance in Paris a year ago, makes his case for him eloquently enough. 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. But though the dialogue has been rewritten and apparently abridged, there still seems an awful lot of it, with the spoken voices just a bit too far forward in the stereo picture and sound effects rather self-consciously prominent, too. And if the cast, led by Marlis Petersen as Leonore and Maximilian Schmitt as Florestan, does not include any voices to compare to those on some of the great Fidelio recordings of the last century, their general lightness and flexibility puts the opera more convincingly into its proper context.

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. Leonore may not be the great celebration of political freedom that later generations have valued in Fidelio, but historically perhaps it’s something more interesting.



Het leven & de muziek van Ludwig van Beethoven (1770 – 1827) op Compact Discs, DVD's en Boeken

%d bloggers liken dit: