Beethoven: Fidelio

Our rating 
2.0 out of 5 star rating 2.0

COMPOSERS: Beethoven
LABELS: DG Westminster Legacy
WORKS: Fidelio
PERFORMER: Sena Jurinac, Jan Peerce, Maria Stader, Murray Dickie, Dezsö Ernster; Bavarian State Opera Chorus, Bavarian State Orchestra/Hans Knappertsbusch
CATALOGUE NO: 471 204-2 ADD Reissue (1962)
This reissue is a mixed bag of delights and disappointments. First, the delights. Sena Jurinac, her radiant voice still at its freshest and most beautiful in 1962, is a most moving Leonore, especially in the dungeon scene of Act II. (She had sung the role most memorably the previous year at Covent Garden under Klemperer. Would that he had conducted this recording!) Her Florestan, Jan Peerce, had performed the role under Toscanini. His individual, somewhat metallic timbre is well-suited to Florestan, and he is especially impressive in his aria. Murray Dickie and Maria Stader are well-matched as Jaquino and Marzelline, Gustav Neidlinger puts Pizarro’s villainy across effectively, but Dezsö Ernster fails to bring Rocco to life.

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The major disappointment is the conductor, Hans Knappertsbusch, whose tempi throughout are disastrously slow and undramatic. The Bavarian State Orchestra makes a superb sound, but that is not enough for Fidelio. There is a bonus – the Leonore Overture No. 3, which is somewhat livelier. Charles Osborne