Discussion:
Klemperer Dutchman re-release
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Mike Scott Rohan
2018-06-08 12:29:06 UTC
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Can't remember if this re-release in Warner's deluxe opera series from late last year has been mentioned here, but don't think so. This has always been my favourite performance, but I was never entirely happy with the CD incarnations, and hadn't got around to listening to this one yet -- bought, not a review. Now getting some new equipment has been motivating me to catch up with some back listening, and this absolutely blew me away.

Unlike previous re-masters, it's taken direct from the 1968 master tapes as Klemperer approved them, and the sound is superb -- much clearer and more immediate, still of the period but superior, not far short of some of my SACDs. The orchestra has real punch, and the chorus texture is much more open. Admittedly it does show up Silja's rather lean tone, but that's accurate, and doesn't detract from the intensity and charisma of her performance. And it includes all the sound effects which were so puritanically edited out in every earlier CD version. Some may not like that, but they're very lightly used, not obtrusive, and as something of an old sea-dog I find the Act 1 ambiance very natural, the faint creaks and mutters of a ship at rest.

It's also very nicely packaged, a mini-book with the original LP art, libretto and some interesting background material. This kind of packaging can be OTT -- I've just had to review a Sandrine Piau recital that was enveloped in pretentious bilge (although good in itself) -- but here it's well used. Now if they'd only put it on BluRay...

Cheers,

Mike
m***@gmail.com
2018-06-09 12:59:38 UTC
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Post by Mike Scott Rohan
Can't remember if this re-release in Warner's deluxe opera series from late last year has been mentioned here, but don't think so. This has always been my favourite performance, but I was never entirely happy with the CD incarnations, and hadn't got around to listening to this one yet -- bought, not a review. Now getting some new equipment has been motivating me to catch up with some back listening, and this absolutely blew me away.
Unlike previous re-masters, it's taken direct from the 1968 master tapes as Klemperer approved them, and the sound is superb -- much clearer and more immediate, still of the period but superior, not far short of some of my SACDs. The orchestra has real punch, and the chorus texture is much more open. Admittedly it does show up Silja's rather lean tone, but that's accurate, and doesn't detract from the intensity and charisma of her performance. And it includes all the sound effects which were so puritanically edited out in every earlier CD version. Some may not like that, but they're very lightly used, not obtrusive, and as something of an old sea-dog I find the Act 1 ambiance very natural, the faint creaks and mutters of a ship at rest.
It's also very nicely packaged, a mini-book with the original LP art, libretto and some interesting background material. This kind of packaging can be OTT -- I've just had to review a Sandrine Piau recital that was enveloped in pretentious bilge (although good in itself) -- but here it's well used. Now if they'd only put it on BluRay...
Cheers,
Mike
Agreed - I have this new mastering and the sound is really wonderful, I wish Klemperer (who is superb) had not used the original ending for the overture and finale (the rewrite is just better turning something mundane and ordinary into something special) and Silja is a big blot - all those mini-skirted Elektras and Brunnhildes had taken a real toll on what was a nice lyric soprano the voice is full of holes and the slightest bit of pressure results in a fearsome wobble) Granted her dramatic effectiveness but the vocal trade off is too much for these ears. The live performance on Testament is also superb
Mike Scott Rohan
2018-06-09 17:28:45 UTC
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Post by m***@gmail.com
Agreed - I have this new mastering and the sound is really wonderful, I wish Klemperer (who is superb) had not used the original ending for the overture and finale (the rewrite is just better turning something mundane and ordinary into something special) and Silja is a big blot - all those mini-skirted Elektras and Brunnhildes had taken a real toll on what was a nice lyric soprano the voice is full of holes and the slightest bit of pressure results in a fearsome wobble) Granted her dramatic effectiveness but the vocal trade off is too much for these ears. The live performance on Testament is also superb
I quite like the original, starker ending; it seems to suit Klemperer's powerful approach. But I like the "redemption" one as well, in different hands, and there are plenty of those. Silja -- well, yes, and as I said the remastering if anything shows that up. I wish Klemperer could have chosen Gwyneth Jones at her best, as she was then -- phenomenal. The old devil apparently fancied Silja, too, which was part of it. But having had to sit through so many of today's Sentas-- Ricarda Merbeth springs to mind -- with overstretched voices, sour tones and minimal acting ability, I'll take Silja and be glad of her.

Mind you, when I heard her at Glyndebourne a few years back, she didn't do too badly as the Kostelnicka. But a year or so later all my colleagues seemed to be cooing about how marvellous and youthful she sounded in Vec Makropoulos, while I just sat there cringing.

I've heard the Testament performance, and agree, but the sound keeps making me long for the studio version.

Cheers,

Mike

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