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Fidelio, Harnon Court Import


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Product Details

  • Audio CD (July 1 1997)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: Import
  • Label: Teldec
  • ASIN: B000000SNI
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

Disc: 1
1. Ov - CO of Europe/Nikolaus Harnoncourt
2. Erster Aufzug: No.1 Duet: Jetzt, Schatzchen, jetzt sind wir allein - Deon van der Walt/Barbara Bonney
3. Erster Aufzug: No.2 Aria: O war' ich schon mit dir vereint - Barbara Bonney
4. Erster Aufzug: No.3 Qt: Mir ist so wunderbar - Barbara Bonney/Charlotte Margiono/Laszlo Polgar/Deon van der Walt
5. Erster Aufzug: No.4 Arie: Hat man nicht auch Gold beineben - Laszlo Polgar
6. Erster Aufzug: No.5.Terzett: Gut, sohnchen, gut - Laszlo Polgar/Charlotte Margiono/Barbara Bonney
7. Erster Aufzug: No.6 Marsch - Laszlo Polgar/Charlotte Margiono/Barbara Bonney
8. Erster Aufzug: No.7 Aria with Chor: Ha, welch ein Augenblick! - Sergei Leiferkus/Arnold Schoenberg Chor/Erwin Ortner
9. Erster Aufzug: No.8 Duet: Jetzt, alter, hat es Eile! - Sergei Leiferkus/Laszlo Polgar
10. Erster Aufzug: No.9 Recitative & Arie: Abscheulicher, wo eilst du hin - Charlotte Margiono
See all 13 tracks on this disc
Disc: 2
1. Zweiter Aufzug: No.11 Intro & Aria: Gott!-Welch Dunkel hier! - Peter Seiffert
2. Zweiter Aufzug: No.11 Intro & Aria: In des Lebens Fruhlingstagen - Peter Seiffert
3. Zweiter Aufzug: No.12 Melodram & Duet: Wie kalt es ist - Charlotte Margiono/Laszlo Polgar
4. Zweiter Aufzug: No.12 Melodram & Duet: Nur hurtig fort, nur frisch gegraben - Laszlo Polgar/Charlotte Margiono
5. Zweiter Aufzug: No.13 Terzett: Euch werde Lohn - Peter Seiffert/Laszlo Polgar/Charlotte Margiono
6. Zweiter Aufzug: No.14 Qt: Er sterbe! - Charlotte Margiono
7. Zweiter Aufzug: No.15 Duet: O namenlose Freude! - Sergei Leiferkus/Peter Seiffert/Charlotte Margiono/Laszlo Polgar
8. Zweiter Aufzug: No.16 Finale: Heil sei dem Tag - Arnold Schoenberg Chor/Erwin Ortner
9. Zweiter Aufzug: No.16 Finale: Des besten Konigs Wink & Willie - Boje Skovhus/Arnold Schoenberg Chor/Erwin Ortner/Laszlo Polgar/Sergei Leiferkus...
10. Zweiter Aufzug: No.16 Finale: Wer ein holdes Weib errungen - Arnold Schoenberg Chor/Erwin Ortner/Peter Seiffert/Charlotte Margiono/Laszlo Polgar...

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Joaquin Ponce on Feb. 21 2000
Format: Audio CD
Despite what the Gramophone says, I think this is the best digital Fidelio available. If you bought Harnoncourt's superb Beethoven cycle with the same orchestra, you will know what to expect: sharp tempos in early XIX Century fashion, and sensational orchestral playing. But there is also warmth and humanity in Harnoncourt's vision. This set reminds me of my favourite Fidelio: the Ferenc Fricsay recording in DG with Rysanek, Haefliger and DFD. Charlotte Margiono has the right voice for Leonore and gives an outstanding performance. The rest of the cast is also excellent.
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By A Customer on March 1 2002
Format: Audio CD
This fine performance of Beethoven's great opera is a marred by the fact that the text is not entirely Beethoven's. Unfortunately, the text is an "adapted" one. So, if you want to hear the real Fidelio look elsewhere. The Naxos version, though it is cut, is excellent and worth acquiring.
As a general rule I prefer to hear the composers final thoughts (or earlier versions) rather than that of a conductor or an editor.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 7 reviews
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
The best digital Fidelio Feb. 21 2000
By Joaquin Ponce - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Despite what the Gramophone says, I think this is the best digital Fidelio available. If you bought Harnoncourt's superb Beethoven cycle with the same orchestra, you will know what to expect: sharp tempos in early XIX Century fashion, and sensational orchestral playing. But there is also warmth and humanity in Harnoncourt's vision. This set reminds me of my favourite Fidelio: the Ferenc Fricsay recording in DG with Rysanek, Haefliger and DFD. Charlotte Margiono has the right voice for Leonore and gives an outstanding performance. The rest of the cast is also excellent.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Bought this on a whim, now my favorite Fidelio recording Feb. 3 2011
By jt52 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I had been operating under the assumption that the old EMI Fidelio with Christa Ludwig and Otto Klemperer was the definitive recording of Beethoven's only opera and that none of the competition came close. I sampled the Karajan version with Helga Dernesch and thought it was pretty good -- with an absolutely outstanding overture -- but Dernesch isn't the singer Ludwig is. Then I bought this Harnoncourt recording of Fidelio and it has become my favorite:

1) Harnoncourt takes brisker tempi than Klemperer or Karajan. The validity of the approach is apparent, as the individual numbers become more coherent and easier to follow in terms of thematic logic. One really clear example is the introduction to Act 2 and Florestan's opening number, which kind of drags in both competing versions (both sung by Jon Vickers, whose vocal range doesn't really extend to the top of this aria), but in Harnoncourt's rendition, it flows and develops nicely.

2) The sonics of this audiophile-level CD are MUCH better, especially compared to the Klemperer re-mastering, which is OK but has some really boomy bass. The amount of detail I heard when I listened to Harnoncourt's version opened my ears to some of the effects and contrapuntal writing Beethoven introduced.

3) The overall cast is very, very good. Heck, you have a bona fide star in Sergei Leiferkus doing a hoarse, raspy Pisarro in a supporting role. Barbara Bonney, as always, and Laszlo Polgar are just terrific in two other important supporting roles. The nod for the lead role goes to Christa Ludwig (in the Klemperer recording), though. I am a fan of Charlotte Margiono just on the basis of an outstanding performance in Harnoncourt's recording of Cosi fan tutte, but she is only good here. I think Ludwig brings more intensity to maybe my favorite sequence in the opera, the Melodrama and Duet in Act 2 (Disc 2, track 3 &4). Ludwig is also in better control in the big Act 1 aria "Abscheulicher" (Disc 1, track 10), where I think Margiono is taxed at times. That said, Margiono is a quality singer and delivers a solid performance.

So while I prefer the Klemperer version for some items (and it remains a very good rendition), this Harnoncourt honestly supersedes it, both in terms of overall interpretation and in recording sonics. Strongly recommended.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
excellent - would be back in print March 15 2012
By Richard W. Martin - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
fits along great with harnoncourt's big beethoven box (symphonies, concerti, missa, etc). not overdone - very chamber-like. anyone who has the big box needs this (condition was partially damaged - the box holding the cds was broken, but the cds were fine).
A top contender in the 'modern' Fidelio category May 12 2015
By pekinman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Nikolaus Harnoncourt was one of those 'enfant terribles' of the 1970s and 1980s. I didn't see, or hear, anything particularly 'terrible' about any of his recordings. In fact I found them riveting. His filmed version of Monterverdi's L'Incoronazione di Poppea from Zurich has held pride of place (as in No. 1) in my music collection for 40 years. He went on to make a variable series of Mozart operas, his Idomeneo, an early recording in this set, is still the best in my collection. I am also inordinately fond of his Cosi fan tutte, starring his Leonore here, Charlotte Margiono, as a hauntingly beautiful Fiordiligi. The other operas in that Mozart cycle are a mixed bag, some, like Die Zauberflöte, being rather too much and truly worthy of his old soubriquet.

This Fidelio, recorded in Graz in 1994, with the lovely Chamber Orchestra of Europe, is one of my favorites of them all.
It is complementary to Furtwängler's old school and grand style, and Maazel's more contemporary but still old school approach, and better than the other 'modern' recordings, i.e. recorded after the digital era began.

Harnoncourt has taken a close look at this old score and thought seriously about the text and music, unlike so many current conductors that focus primarily on their 'stars' making pretty noises and managing to get out most of the consonants with drowning them out with conductorial grand-standing. Call me a cynic.

The role of Marzelline is a peach of a part and I can't imagine any lyric soprano or even coloratura or soubrette turning down an opportunity to sing it. She practically owns the first half hour of Act I and is a prominent singer throughout the balance of the act. She is given the opening lines to the exquisite quartet Mir is so Wunderbar and takes part in a number of beautiful ensembles throughout the opera, as well as having a fairly substantial little aria at the start 'O wär' ich schon mit dir vereint'.
Often this role is cast a little indifferently, especially in the opera houses of America where young ingenues are tossed to the wolves in house debuts and so on, often to their ever-lasting regret. This is not an easy role and it takes a master like Barbara Bonney, the singer here, to bring out all the glories of this part. Hers is the most purely beautiful sounding voice on record in my experience in this role. She is perfectly partnered by the late and much lamented Jaquino in the South African tenor Deon van der Walt. They both have very youthful and buoyant sounds, bolstered by quick-silver vibratos, but nothing annoying. And they are out of the top drawer of vocal musicians, possessing both wonderful voices, musical intuition and intelligence (not all that common in singers). I am reminded of an Anna Russell quib about singers having resonance where their brains out to be. At least I think it was Anna Russell. Whatever. Bonney and Van der Walt are notable exceptions to that jab. In fact the entire cast is unusually thoughtful and subtle in the delivery of both sung and, especially, the spoken lines. All speak their own words. This is truly a theatrical event on record and a joy to listen to for that reason. Even Sergei Leiferkus, very Russian, delivers his German text with vivid word-pointing, not sounding text-book learned at all. His wicked Don Pizarro is almost lovable he's so villainous. There is no vocal mustache twirling, no Simon Legree effect, but with his trademark sibilant Ss he becomes of vividly evil monster of tyranny and vanity.

László Polgár possessed a very beautiful bass voice with a nice high range as well. He sounds like a warm-hearted but tough daddy figure who is perplexed and quietly disgusted with Don Pizarro. He's also strict with his daughter Marzelline without making her cry, one can just sense that anyway. He is different from Kurt Moll (Haitink and Halász) in that his voice is not as voluminous, but it's still beautiful and his every utterance is a pleasure to hear. And he acts very well with the spoken dialogue. (He was Hungarian). Sadly he died rather young but he recorded a number of things with Harnoncourt and others in his prime years in the 1990s and early 2000s.

Finally we get to the two leads. Peter Seiffert is another member of this cast with a purely beautiful voice, intelligently used, well-trained and dramatically involved. He is certainly more interesting than Davis's (RCA) Heppner who is a little bland, though the voice is also beautiful. Seiffert gives a nice piano-forte crescendo in 'Gott'. However it is a natural expression of this characters desperation and not simply an opportunity to show off like Jonas Kaufmann does for Abbado on Decca.
I still prefer James McCracken's balls to the walls shout for Maazel on Decca. And no one gets near McCracken's heart-rending singing in 'In des Lebens Frühlingstagen' with the possible exception of Jon Vickers (Klemperer/Testament). His performance of 'In des Lebens Frühlingstagen' is beautiful but not as gut wrenching as James McCracken's (Maazel). But there is the wonderful oboe obbligato that is outstandingly played by Douglas Boyd, almost like another human voice, and who about steals the show from Florestan.

Charlotte Margiono is a splendid Leonore. She recorded, as mentioned, Fiordiligi with Harnoncourt a few years prior to this set and that remains one of my favorite recordings of that opera, certainly in the modern era. She possessed, in her prime, an absolutely stunning soprano. She also has power and a wide expressive range. She is no Gargantua, neither was Birgit Nilsson (Maazel). I am thinking more along the lines of Gwyneth Jones (Böhm) and Jessye Norman (Haitink) and some of the other more stentorian sopranos of the Brünnhilde mold, or wannabe Brünnhildes (Voigt/Davis).

Harnoncourt's is a must-have if you have an open mind. His tempi are not really unusual except for 'O namenlose Freude' which he takes at a really sensible slower speed. Usually the poor singers are falling all over themselves trying to keep up with an over-excited and exhausted conductor trying to gin up the adrenaline to guarantee a big ovation.

This is my favorite 'modern' recording of Fidelio. I also like Haitink's with the ever-grand Jessye Norman. The Dresden Orchestra is aural candy and the Philips sound is, as usual, well above the herd. You will also want one of Furtwängler's and the Fricsay (EMI and DGG respectively). The Harnoncourt set has a complete libretto.
Superb rendition March 31 2015
By Michael K. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I rarely have so few reservations about a recording.
The casting is ideal and goes with Harnoncourt's conception of the opera as Classical-era music, not Wagner trying to bust out.
A lot of passages in this opera are influenced by Mozart and some of these singers have distinguished themselves with that composer.
The typical bright orchestral sound Harnoncourt achieves helps with the edginess of the drama, unlike say, in Mozart himself, where it can be obtrusive. The dynamic range is extreme, as befits Beethoven.


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