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Der Freischütz

Harnoncourt; Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra , Weber Carl Maria Von Audio CD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
Price: CDN$ 39.49 & FREE Shipping. Details
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Disc: 1
1. Ouvertura
2. Introduzione
3. Terzetto Con Coro
4. Walzer Ed Aria
5. Lied
6. Aria
7. Duetto
8. Arietta
9. Scena Ed Aria
10. Terzetto
Disc: 2
1. Finale: Die Wolfschlucht
2. Entre-Act
3. Cavatina
4. Romanza Ed Aria
5. Volkslied
6. Jagerchor
7. Finale

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Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful performance of a favourite opera July 26 2001
By Rodrigo
Format:Audio CD
Freischütz has been recorded by some of the most important conductors and is a favourite in German theatres. The contrasted moods and their vivid orchestral depictions may have something to do with that. The problem about recording Freischütz again is dealing with very strong competition. Carlos Kleiber's performance with Gundula Janowitz and Theo Adam is one of the realy true classic recordings. For those who consider it to be too fast, there are the lovely Kubelik recording with Hildegard Behrens and René Kollo and the old Keilberth one with Elisabeth Grümmer. However, the direct competitor to this recording is the digital RCA recording with Janowski and this is going to be the one with which I am going to compare the Teldec release. Harnoncourt is conducting an orchestra with a strongest reputation, the Berlin Philharmonic, and shows total control of it, such in his perfect dealing with extremes of harmonic (without Karajan's artifficial engineering tricks) in Leise, leise. His tempi tend to be slower and he exploits different kinds of sonorities from his orchestra, especially harsher and more powerful ones in the most dramatic numbers. However, the live recording, the slower tempi, an unfocused Samiel make the Wolfschlucht scene less impressive than it should be (compare with the poor recorded sound of Jochum and its eery atmosphere and you'll know what I mean). I tend to think that Marek Janowski, in his less demonstrative way, by means of regularity, good sense and unfailing good taste, ends on being more effective, especially because he has a wonderful orchestra (I tend to think it sounds really nicer than the Berlin Phil these days...) and excellent recording from BMG. Read more ›
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Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Dynamic Variety Oct. 8 2012
By David S. Baumgartner - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
This 1995 "live" recording shows Harnoncourt's attention to detail and his ability to impel his excellent Berlin Radio Orchestra and singers to very strong and meaningful performances. The sound is excellent and it is obvious he has demanded that all reach for the highest levels of artistic ability. This a radio performance as the audience applauds only at the end.

Endrik Wollrich, who has become one of Europe's leading opera tenors, delivers his big solo with fire and while his voice has a very slight but recognizable throaty sound, it nevertheless is attractive, solid, innocent and perfectly evenly and securely produced throughout his range. There is insufficient dialogue between Max and Kaspar in Act I but Matti Salminen's Kaspar demonstrates some wry acting ability by being easy-going and non-threatening until he orders Max to "shoot" the eagle and then when alone turns to disclose his real intention to trap Max belting out his great aria "Scweig...Triumph" with dark, gripping aggression. This transformation is a choice piece of acting bringing out Kaspar's devious nature. Ännchen, Christine Schäfer, paints a splendid picture of youthful feminine longing in her Act I aria with Harnoncourt giving her slight meaningful pauses allowing for enchanting emphasis. Her Act III aria fares less well, missing the playfulness and fun despite singing with absolutely gorgeous voice; in this aria, however, she might just as well have been singing "la,la,la". Schäfer is not much of an actress. I saw her Gilda and although she looks beautiful and sings beautifully she has little depth in interpretation, just essentially standing and delivering.

Now the Slovak soprano,Luba Orgonasova ,as Agathe, is quite the opposite, being very sensitive with a full panoply of dynamic variation in her Act I aria ending with happy delight and powerful joy at seeing Max's approach, swelling with abundant resources to ripe voluptuousness. In her Act III prayer aria, showing lovely soft high notes which she never tries to belt, caressing and moving, tenderly and touchingly throughout as befits the words, she displays a wide range of contrast, from gentle to fireworks and always melodious.

Harnoncourt certainly knows how to accomplish the required agitation and excitability creating crescendos within arias and musical climaxes and interplay with all his forces. E.g., his is the only version I know where Kaspar's aria contains an accellerando ending. His horns are featured especially in driving the Act II entr'acte. The Bridesmaids chorus zips along, the Act I dance is sprightly and the Hunters' Chorus shows they are impatient to begin the shooting. This conductor's emphases, stresses, underscorings and ability to communicate emotion of the moment are unparalleled in my other and many Freischütz recordings and he carries this sweep of attention not just to the orchestra but also to the singers!

Kurt Moll, as the Hermit, is incomparable with rock-solid, beautiful, mellifluous, rich flowing tones while Wolfgang Holzmair sings both Ottokar and Killian very well, a sensible approach and confirming this was a concert version, as does the use of Schäfer as a Bridesmaid soloist. The Wolfsschlucht always has that inherent problem of trying to make the opening chorus spooky which every single endeavor, including here, fails. However, Hannoncourt and his orchestra superbly support the frightening aspects of the whole scene by the widest dynamics, from ppp to fff, and abrupt tempo changes to guide the turmoil, dramatics and tension with electifying results, draining all potentialities for downright forceful excitement. Samiel, for once, doesn't sound like he is yelling from afar through a megaphone but, alas, he's not very scary. This nominee for several opera awards is very highly recommended.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Zesty Weber Dec 10 2012
By Kiwimezzo - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
I love this spirited and beautifully sung Freischutz. The sense of German Romanticism pervaded every note, and is to music, what Casper David Friedrich is to the visual arts. The finest recording I've heard.
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent live recording hits almost every target, but ultimately loses to Kleiber Oct. 30 2012
By R. Nadel - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
This Teldec recording, conducted by Nikolaus Harnoncourt is a very fine performance in many ways, and I would have awarded it 5 stars if we didn't have Carlos Kleiber's DGG recording to compare it with.

I usually judge an operatic performance on 5 criteria: 1) Soloists' vocal performances 2) Soloists' idiomatic qualities 3) Conductor's technical performance 4) Conductor's idiomatic qualities, and 5) Sound. Other criteria might come in to play, such as completeness of score, orchestral performance, etc.

The singers on this recording are all excellent, both in vocal and idiomatic qualities. When I compare it to the Kleiber's recording, I do think that the three of the lead singers here (Wottrich as Max, Orgonasova as Agathe, and Schafer as Annchen) don't have quite as youthful a sound as the singers on Kleiber's team (Schreier, Janowitz, and Mathis). This is not a significant issue, it's a matter of taste really, as all the singers on both recordings are in fine voice and inhabit their characters completely. Comparing some of the other roles, Matti Salminen, as Kaspar under Harnoncourt, is much stronger than Theo Adam under Kleiber. One note: the DGG studio recording uses actors for the spoken dialog.

Both recordings sound great. Kleiber's DGG studio recording, circa 1973, is analog but remastered and sounds clear and bright (very bright, though, in some places) and surprisingly detailed and dynamic. Teldec's 1996 digital recording is better; amazingly realistic and we hear all kinds of great orchestral detail, dynamics, and depth.

The big difference is in the conducting.

Harnoncourt is, obviously, an accomplished and justly renowned conductor. He began to establish his reputation in his pioneering authentic baroque recordings of Bach and Monteverdi, etc., in the 70s. He started to turn his attention to the works of romantic composers in the 90s, and he is excellent here in this live concert version of Weber's most popular opera. Where Kleiber really scores over Harnoncourt is in sheer electricity. Almost every moment is riveting.

1) Listen and compare the opening chorus (Viktoria, Viktoria!). Kleiber creates a real sense of celebration and abandon, the horns of the Dresden orchestra (where Weber himself was conductor) have true hunting horn swagger, and the peasant musicians sound authentically forward and coarse (kudos to the sound engineers on that one). Kleiber really shows how wonderfully rhythmic the writing of the libretto is here and accentuates it in his conducting. By comparison, Harnoncourt creates a polished sound (reminding me of von Karajan) which is less involving; the chorus and orchestra are great, but the chorus sounds like a concert not a crowd of peasants and the Berlin Philharmonic horns sound symphonic instead of like reveling hunters.

2) In the famous Act 2 Wolf's Glen scene, again Kleiber is to be preferred. There is knife-edge tension in the orchestra and deep menace in the chorus. Listen to the crescendo in the basses! When things get going, Kleiber has great propulsion and buoyancy, and he achieves a kind of punctuation that highlights the suspense in the words being sung. When the scene is over, you can tell you were holding your breath! In comparison, Harnoncourt, although really very good, is a degree tamer. His Wolf's Glen scene is 2 1/2 minutes longer than Kleiber's. It's not that sheer speed is always better, but the slower tempi in places draw things out, depriving the scene of some momentum - compared to Kleiber that is. Harnoncourt's approach to the counting of the bullets is also telling. The score calls for each count, yelled out by the evil Kaspar, to be echoed menacingly loud, but in the Teldec recording they chose to have the echo almost whispered. It's not suspenseful, rather it is the opposite.

3) And then there is the great Act 3 chorus. Again, Kleiber creates this real rousing carousing hunting chorus, aided by those swaggering horns, and you can't help tapping your feet and wanting to join in the revelry, which provides great contrast for what is about to come. Harnoncourt's chorus sounds wonderful, but again it sounds like a concert chorus, not a hunting, drinking chorus.

These are three key reference points that highlight the differences in approach by these two great conductors. In the final analysis, both recordings provide great satisfaction. But, if you can't own both recordings, Kleiber is the clear first choice.
9 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favourite operas-beautifully executed...... Sept. 13 2007
By Tanis - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Harnoncourt's electrifying and inspirational version of this operatic warhorse was recorded live at concert performances in the Philharmonie in Berlin in 1995 and the engineers have done wonders in passing on the atmosphere of a stage performance rather than a concert one, not least in the Wolf's Glen scene, helped by recording of a very wide dynamic range. Harnoncourt clarifies textures and paces the drama well, making it sound fresh and new. The cast is first rate, with Orgonasova singing luminously as Agathe, not just pure but sumptuous of tone, floating high pianissimos ravishingly. Christine Schafter, sweet and expressive, makes Aennchen into far more than just a soubrette character and Erich Wottrich as Max is aptly heroic and unstrained, if hardly beautiful. The lineup of baritones and basses is impressive too, all firm and clear, contrasting sharply with one another, a team unlikely to bettered today. A clear first choice among modern, digital recordings.
4 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favorite operas! Feb. 3 2005
By Mayo - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
I found all elements perfectly balanced in this recording, with excellent sound quality and impressive overall execution.

It's unfortunate that there aren't more performances of this opera in theaters - it is a powerful one.
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