Search this Blog


Thursday, May 17, 2012

Strauss/Kleiber's "Die Fledermaus" on Deutsche Gramophone (1975)

Discontinued (June, 2011)

■ Product ID: ESSG-90041 / 42 [2 discs]
■ Format: SA-CD/CD Hybrid
■ Label: Deutsche Grammophon
■ DSD mastering / SA-CD layer: Stereo / CD layer: ADD
■ Deluxe Digipak packaging

Vintage symphony “Die Fledermaus” (The Bat), conducted by the charismatic conductor Carlos Kleiber, who continues to fascinate audiences even today

The popularity of conductor Carlos Kleiber (July 3, 1930–July 13, 2004) shows no signs of slowing down six years after his death. Kleiber was a charismatic conductor who held his many audiences spellbound with overwhelming and inspired performances–regardless of whether it was an opera or symphony–as well as his graceful and dazzling approach to conducting, despite the extremely small number of concert appearances and repertoire and frequent cancellations of his performances. Kleiber’s studio recordings started with “Der Freischütz” in 1973 and ended with “Tristan und Isolde” in 1982. Only eight recordings by Deutsche Grammophon (DG) and one recording by EMI have been released. Other than those, all recordings were made from live performances, both official and unofficial. Following his first complete opera album “Der Freischutz” from DG, Kleiber recorded the complete “Die Fledermaus” between 1975 and 1976. “Die Fledermaus” was the first recording Kleiber made with the Orchestra of the Bavarian State Opera with whom he had a close relationship during the later 30 years of his career. “Die Fledermaus” directed by Otto Schenk was performed for the very first time at the Bavarian State Opera on New Year’s Eve, 1974. After its premiere night, this operetta became the specialty of this opera house along with “Der Rosenkavalier” (The Knight of the Rose). Kleiber conducted almost all the performances of “Die Fledermaus” at this opera house until 1988 (the live performance in 1984 is recorded on DVD). “Die Fledermaus” album is an endeavor by DG to preserve these performances in recording sessions at the Herkulessaal concert hall.

Highest quality entertainment by a top-notch cast

The cast of “Die Fledermaus” was put together with some of the best operatic vocalists at the time of the recording, including Julia Varady, Lucia Popp, Hermann Prey, René Kollo, and Bernd Weikl, in order to delight the audience with an assemblage of brilliant singing voices. Ivan Rebroff, who was famous for singing Russian folk songs, was appointed to the role of Prince Orlofsky, and Rebroff’s original approach to playing this character with his falsetto singing stands out in the recording. One of the biggest appeals of this album that you cannot perceive in other performances is the masculine sound of the orchestra that quickly responds to Kleiber’s flexible style of conducting. This quality can be heard throughout the tracks on this album, most notably in the overture, which was often conducted by Kleiber for the encore at concerts, as well as the awe-inspiring “Unter Donner und Blitz” (Thunder and Lightning), which is played in Act 2 and considered to be the climax among all the tracks. For this recording, the dialog of the performers was supervised by Otto Schenk, who was director for the opera performance. You can capture the feel of a lively stage from this recording session that is almost like a live opera performance, in the same way as Karajan’s recording session album “Die Lustige Witwe” (The Merry Widow).

Ultimate sound quality by Super Audio CD (SACD)/CD hybridization

The recording sessions of this album took place at the Munich Herkulessaal concert hall, which has superb acoustics. This hall makes it possible to clearly reproduce the details of the performances with a high quality sound. DG has assembled a detailed knowledge of this hall’s sound effects through a series of recordings made by conductor Rafael Kubelík with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra. The creation of a clear and consistent sound, made possible only by such knowledge of DG, unleashes the full musical genius of Kleiber, who appears to place great value on the harmony of the delicate pianissimo. DG’s “Die Fledermaus” album was released on CD during the early days of digital recordings in 1985. Subsequently, a new recording on CD made using DG’s special re-mastering technology called Original-Image Bit-Processing (OIBP) was released in 1999, followed by another re-mastering released on Super High Material CD (SHM-CD) in 2008. This time, however, ESOTERIC is issuing a new Direct Stream Digital (DSD) re-mastering and a new CD layer, from high sound-quality master, allowing the listeners to experience an outstanding performance that Kleiber created through a vivid and yet clear sound for the first time.

Johann Strauss II (1825-1899)
Die Fledermaus

Bayerisches Staatsorchester
Conducted by Carlos Kleiber

Hermann Prey
Julia Varady
Lucia Popp
Benno Kusche
Iwan Rebroff
René Kollo

Bayerischer Staatsopernchor
Einstudierung: Wolfgang Baumgart
Dialog-Regie: Otto Schenk

Exective producer: Hans Hirsch
Recording producer: Hans Weber
Balance engineer: Klaus Scheibe
Recording engineer: Klaus Behrens/Wolf-Dieter Karwatky
Location: München, Rezidentz, Herkules-Saal
Recording date: Oct. 1975

Producer: Motoaki Ohmachi (ESOTERIC COMPANY)
Mastering Engineer: Kazuie Sugimoto (JVC Mastering Center)

A well kept secret, superb quality recording and another hint from the recent Kolner trip, with a BIG thank you to Jean and Reinhard.

No comments: