|Der fliegende Holländer|
Studio recording in stereo
February & March, 1968
|Conductor: Otto Klemperer|
|(New) Philharmonia Orchestra|
|EMI, CDS 5 55179 2
Review by Constantijn Blondel|
I have mixed feelings about this recording. This mixedness mainly
consists of the conducting and the orchestral playing. But I'll start
with the excellent soloists.
The cast is qua principals of a very high standard. Martti Talvela sings
a sympathetic Daland with his heart in the right place, which is to me a
refreshment after all those Dalands that seem to try to portray the evils
of capitalism and such blah blah in an essentially one-dimensional character.
Senta is sung by one of my favorite sopranos of all time, Anja Silja.
She is in top voice here and she renders the role with an intense mix of
blonde-ness and psychopathism (I think Senta is definitely a shrink case)
and besides succeeds in singing very convincing. She hammers out the top
notes with a power that sometimes reminds one of Birgit Nilsson and in
the softer parts she just lets her voice do all the work and make for the
beauty both she herself and the character posess.
Theo Adam is the Holländer. As always he can be accused of being wobbly,
and as always, it doesn't disturb me in the least. His first aria is
powerful and he makes the listener feel the pain and the frustration of
the man. I like it also very much that Adam possesses a lot of power.
Though I can appreciate van Dam's singing for Karajan, I prefer it if a
bass-baritone can thunder like the storm that rages in his blood. The
ones like Adam and of course George London for Dorati can do this. Theo
Adam sings the role like a real Dutchman: loud and clear - a splendid
The rest of the cast and the chorus is above adequate.
Then the other side of my medal: I'll admit at once that I'm not a fan
of the heavy/slow/old style of Wagner conducting. I like to hear what
music Wagner wrote and not what sounds the instruments can make. Still,
though I can appreciate for instance Furtwängler or even Knappertsbusch
(if it's not too long), I have difficulties with this conducting by
Klemperer. He seems to go 'just slow', neither taking anything away from
the music, nor adding a special quality to it. It reminds me a bit of the
counterpart in some period instrument performances, where some conductors
seem to think that just quick tempi and period instruments will get them
there...play everything thrice as fast and you'll win ovations. But IMHO
it doesn't work this way, neither with quick, nor with slow tempi. IMHO
Klemperer does not succeed in maintaining the tension through his slow
tempi, and that makes me sometimes call this recording "the most beautiful
piece of boring music I ever heard".
The orchestra plays well...I'm not a fan of English orchestral playing,
but there's no discussion about the Philharmonia playing technically
perfect. Pity that it was recorded in a dry shoebox (Abbey Road studios),
though it is sufficiently transparent. If you like great singing combined
with a transparent though dry recording this set can be recommended. If
not, then try Dorati/Bohm or Naxos' recording.
Incidentally, this EMI set uses the original Dresden version, that is
with every act ending without through-compostition and with Senta jumping
of the cliff-auch-dead, without the transfiguration.