Mike Scott Rohan
2018-06-08 12:29:06 UTC
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...