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More details for CD2293-95

Reviews for CD 2293-95 Der Rosenkavalier

International Record Review – December 2004

Strauss - Der Rosenkavalier a

Maria Reining (soprano) Die Feldmarschallin; Lisa della Casa (soprano) Octavian; Kurt Böhme (bass) Baron Ochs; Hilde Gueden (soprano) Sophie; Alfred Poell (baritone) Faninal; Karl Terkal (tenor) Italian Tenor; Sieglinde Wagner (mezzo) Annina; Laszlo Szemere (tenor) Valzacchi; Judith Hellwig (soprano) Leitmetzerin; Emmy Dax (soprano) Mi1liner; Oscar Czerwenka (bass) Notary; Franz Bierbach (bass) Police Commissioner; Georg Müller (bass) Marscttallin’s Major-Domo; August Jaresch (tenor) Faninal’s Major-Domo, Landlord; Vienna State Opera Chorus; Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra/Clemens Krauss.

Der Rosenkavalier -Act 3, final sceneb. Viorica Ursuleac. Tiana Lemnitz. Erna Berger (sopranos); Georg Hann (bass-baritone); Berlin State Opera Orchestra/Clemens Krauss.

Guild mono GHCD2293/5 (budget price, three discs, 3 hours 19 minutes, AAD).
From bDecca-Polydor CA8238, with connecting passages inserted from a 1944 Munich broadcast.
Remastering Engineer: Richard Caniell.
alive performance at the Salzburg Festival in 1953, b1936

As a footnote to its release Guild appends Clemens Krauss’s 1936 Berlin recording of the big soprano music in Act 3, dubbing in the gaps from a 1944 Krauss-Ied Bavarian broadcast. With his wife Viorica Ursuleac on her best recorded form, and no less than Tiana Lernnitz and a (younger) Erna Berger as the young lovers, this is an unmissable 12 minutes of Strauss history on disc. The main event, new to disc, features supreme performances from Reining (in better voice than on the famous 1954 Erich Kleiber studio set) and della Casa, a young soprano Octavian alarmingly apt in both boudoir romance and low ‘Mariandel’ comedy. The German Ochs himself (Böhme) is inclined to overplay his crude side, and is more brutal (and far less entertaining) than the Viennese-born veterans on the other sets - but he is certainly accurate and recovers dignity well when the game is up at the inn. Krauss himself - and here is the rub - sounds only intermittently on fire - he was coming to the end of a summer’s work which had included his Bayreuth début in both the Ring and Parsifal. The beginning and end of Act 1 are terrific (gorgeous string-playing) and the Trio might just be the most thrillingly paced on record (and it is fast!), but much of Ac t 2 (not helped by the recorded sound, admittedly) sounds routine and loud. The wartime set is a better way to hear this maestro’s work on this score, although its cast is not the equal of this one. Also, the sound on Guild’s issue (from a private recording of the Austrian Radio broadcast) cannot always cope with loud, especially soprano-dominated climaxes, although some good work has evidently been done on the Ochs sections. But, at Guild’s price, few should resist these singers and that Berlin bonus.

Mike V. Ashman

You will need a studio recording or two but for sheer theatrical frisson this Salzburg performance should not be overlooked ... Jonathan Woolf - MusicWeb International

Music Web

Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949)

Der Rosenkavalier - opera in three acts
The Feldmarschallin, Princess Werdenberg - Maria Reining (soprano)
Baron Ochs auf Lerchenau - Kurt Boehme (baritone)
Octavian - Lisa della Casa (soprano)
Herr von Faninal – Alfred Poell (baritone)
Sophie, his daughter - Hilde Gueden (soprano)
Marianne, Sophie’s duenna – Judith Hellwig (soprano)
Valzacchi, an intriguer – Laszlo Szemere (tenor)
Annina, his partner – Sieglinde Wagner (contralto)
The Major-Domo to the Feldmarschallin –Georg Müller (tenor)
An Attorney – Oscar Czerwenka (bass)
An Italian Singer – Karl Terkal (tenor)
Police Inspector – Franz Bierbach (bass)
Innkeeper and Faninal’s Major-Domo – August Jaresch (tenor)
Chorus of the Vienna State Opera
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra/Clemens Krauss
Recorded live at the Salzburg Festival, 1953

Trio to the end of Act III - with

Viorica Ursuleac
Tiana Lemnitz
Erna Berger
Georg Hann
Berlin State Opera Orchestra/Clemens Krauss
Recorded 1936 on 78s
GUILD HISTORICAL GHCD 2293/95 [3 CDs: 68.07 + 57.01 + 74.18]

Here’s something special for admirers of Clemens Krauss – the first ever release of this 1953 Salzburg Rosenkavalier. Preiser has released a Krauss 1942 Bavarian broadcast with his wife, Viorica Ursuleac (who appears in Guild’s 1936 78 excerpts which are splendid, though there are splices from other performances to ensure continuity) and Georgine von Milinkovic et al. There are also some Vienna State Opera live extracts dating from the same period.

Firstly a word about recording sonics and quality. The copy was made by a private collector and Guild notes that there was shifting equalization, some breaks and that it enshrined a metallic quality with the voice of the Ochs, Kurt Boehme. It also notes, correctly, that the broadcast has an airless quality. I would add this; the microphones seem to have been placed more over the pit than the stage so that the flaring horns, for example, in the orchestral introduction to Act I leap out dramatically. The sound is certainly recessive and cramped; percussion is muffled, internal sectional balance is occasionally problematic. There are some blips as well – they sound like fractionally missing moments where sides were changed. I should also add – this sounds like a litany of problems, which isn’t really the case but they should be noted – that the sound splinters and fractures somewhat in the Second Act (especially Mord! Mord! – which is uncomfortable). One can also hear some radio interference in this section of the Act, which is temporarily off-putting. At 1.17 into Er muss mich pardioneren (Act II, track 12) there is the kind of "edit" I referred to earlier and this happens a few times.

All right, this doesn’t sound good. But there is good news; apart from the constriction of sound the problems are essentially survivable. Those with a serious interest in historic performance and in the musicianship of Strauss’s favourite Rosenkavalier conductor will want to hear it and this notwithstanding the fact that a number of the principals have also left behind recordings of their roles in other sets. Reining famously recorded it for Kleiber in 1955 (Decca) but also for Szell, live in 1949 – now on Andante. Gueden, for instance, was also in that Kleiber cast.

The greatest and most animating feature of this remains Clemens Krauss. He encourages a sense of seamless animation, with scenes developing a momentum that glides naturally into subsequent ones. There’s no sense of the static or tableau about his leadership. Rhythms are sharply etched and wittily pointed. Wind principals are given their head and plaudits in particular go to the bassoonist and clarinettist. In the Act II introduction we hear some succulent echt-Viennese string portamenti and a veritable surge of adrenalin. I’ve seldom heard bettered the masterly way he handles the end of In dieser feierlichen Stunde – where he judges the theatrical temperature with the most acute perception. Listen as well to the sheer naturalness of his sprung rhythm in the Octavian-Sophie exchange Mit ihren Augen voller Tränen. Even here though, things aren’t perfect, nor would one expect them to be. The Act III trio is a mite untidy, though it is fleetly taken and beautifully articulate, and there is throughout, though more so in the last two Acts, a slight drop in adrenalin. This is relative though; Krauss is still a formidable guide, not as rhythmically incisive as Szell but with a greater sense of rubato and stage design – and I think, in the end, definably more of a sense of the humanity of the score.

I agree with annotator London Green that Reining is heard at something like her Straussian best in the 1949 Szell broadcast but that Krauss’s conducting has a flexibility that elevates her assumption still further. Hers is a less weighty voice than usual and hers remains throughout a Marschallin who seeks the light, not the depths, of the role. Her voice and impersonation are entirely consonant in this. Lisa della Casa is likewise a soprano and this lightening of the voices in their scenes together gives them a sense of vocal equality. She is technically eloquent and tonally fresh and conveys in large measure the verve and increasing maturity of Octavian. Sophie is Hilde Gueden, flighty, quick, and Ochs is Boehme at his buffo best but with a slight taste of vinegar in the voice. He does overdo the ruffian elements rather too much but it’s a credible portrait.

In conclusion this is a powerful souvenir of Krauss’s credentials as a Straussian. Compromised though it is by sonic limitations it will stand as an ancillary purchase. You will need a studio recording or two but for sheer theatrical frisson this Salzburg performance should not be overlooked, even though the wartime broadcast has distinctive merits of its own.

Jonathan Woolf

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