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--Standard Repertory--

By Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart


VIDEO: Ingmar Bergman film: Koestlinger, Urrila, Hagegård; Ericson conducting; Drottningholm, 1973; HOM MAG 160 A master filmmaker grapples with a masterpiece, and the result is neither too Titanic or too cerebral; a light touch brings out the bewildering variety of moods in Mozart's score [G.R.]

AUDIO (Another special work that no single recording can hope to encompass):

A) L'OISEAU-LYRE: Kurt Streit, Barbara Bonney, Gilles Cachemaille, Sumi Jo, Ruth Ziesak, Östman conducting, Drottningholm, 1992; this period-instrument recording is not completely free of all the stylistic extremes heard in other sets of this kind; but, unlike many of them, there is an uncharacteristic wholeness of outlook here and a conviction that the music is there to express something -- an evident conviction from Maestro Östman comparable to the greatest “Romantic” interpretations; one feels the experience of the stage in this virtually complete presentation (includes some usually cut dialogue like the exchange among the slaves at the opening of Scene2; but luxuries like the optional Tamino/Papageno duet and the cadenza at the conclusion of the opening number are not included); this is the sort of reading that, once heard, can change one’s entire perspective on the work; I can’t say how well it holds up through repeated hearings, but, as one who has probably heard most of the recordings out there, I look on this for now as an easy top choice; Stereo  [G.R.]

B) EMI: Anton Dermota, Irmgard Seefried, Erich Kunz, Wilma Lipp, Christl Goltz, Furtwängler conducting; "live," 1951, an oldie but a goodie in good sound featuring an almost ideal Vienna ensemble in fine fettle before an enthusiastic audience; unfortunately, one does have to swallow the First Lady being played as the First Crone, Mono [G.R.]

C-1) DG: Ernst Häfliger, Maria Stader, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Rita Streich, Marianne Schech, Fricsay conducting, 1955; Häfliger's peerless Tamino balances Fischer-Dieskau's idiosyncratic Papageno -- an acquired taste; Fricsay's galvanized leadership; the first studio recording to have dialogue; Mono [G.R.]

C-2) DECCA/LONDON: Leopold Simoneau, Hilde Gueden, Walter Berry, Wilma Lipp, Judith Hellwig, Boehm conducting, 1955; a fine Vienna ensemble as in B, but with a superior First Lady; features a surprisingly lively Boehm at the podium, though he cannot match the seamlessness of Furtwaengler; omits all the dialogue; amazing value, considering, marketed as a 2-for-1 CD; Stereo [G.R.]

D) EMI: Anton Dermota, Irmgard Seefried, Erich Kunz, Wilma Lipp, Sena Jurinac, von Karajan conducting, 1950; the superb Furtwängler cast (see above) with a new superior First Lady--Jurinac replacing Goltz; but with von Karajan's less engaged conducting; features slightly better sound; all dialogue sections omitted, Mono [G.R.]

E-1) EMI: Helge Rosvaenge, Tiana Lemnitz, Gerhard Huesch, Erna Berger, Hilde Scheppan, Beecham conducting [omits all dialogue, recorded 1937/38, Mono]; with a superb ensemble and Beecham's unparalleled rapport with Mozart, this would deserve its (false) reputation as the greatest recording of all were it not for its being critically hobbled by Rosvaenge's coarse, unsympathetic Tamino--only the protagonist of the whole opera! [G.R.]

E-2) DG: Fritz Wunderlich, Evelyn Lear, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Roberta Peters, Hildegard Hillebrecht, Böhm conducting, 1964; another superb ensemble that does not quite reach the heights of Lemnitz, Huesch or Berger in Item E-1, but easily trumps the ungainly Rosvaenge with Wunderlich's Tamino -- a treasurable souvenir for that reason; Fischer-Dieskau's idiosyncratic Papageno is even more eccentric here than in C-1; fine Stereo [G.R.]

For Further Reading:

W.A. Mozart : Die Zauberfloete (Cambridge Opera Handbooks), by Peter Branscombe

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This Page Last Revised 9/14/99 | Copyright © 1998, 1999 by Geoffrey Riggs
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