Wagner: Der fliegende Holländer

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

WORKS: Der fliegende Holländer
PERFORMER: Terje Stensvold, Kwangchul Youn, Christopher Ventris, Anja Kampe, Jane Henschel, Russell Thomas; Bavarian Radio Choir; WDR Radio Choir Cologne; NDR Choir; Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra/Andris Nelsons


There’s fierce competition from existing Flying Dutchman recordings. Even allowing for this, having enjoyed other Andris Nelsons performances I was surprised to find this one less convincing.

Orchestrally it can’t be faulted for stormy vigour, but the overall drama seems curiously earthbound. This is undoubtedly due partly to its concert origins (as is also the case with, for instance, Georg Solti’s recording), where the very precision of ensemble destroys any illusion of opera performers acting out their roles. Terje Stensvold’s Dutchman is noble and warm-toned, but conveys little deep feeling, let alone much sense of the damned, half-demonic wanderer; the Dutchman has his origins, after all, in Dr Polidori’s Byronic vampire. Where Bryn Terfel or Theo Adam fill the simple line ‘Mein Schiff ist fest – es leidet keinen Schaden!’ (My ship is sound; it’s undergone no damage) with a world of suffering, Stensvold is almost matter-of-fact. Kwangchul Youn’s veteran Daland is resonant but stodgy, and Russell Thomas’s Steersman undercharacterised. Christopher Ventris tries harder as Erik, but in rather dry voice.

That leaves the honours to Jane Henschel’s lively Mary, and still more to Anja Kampe’s Senta. Her voice has hardened somewhat, especially in the upper reaches of her Ballad, but her expressive power more than compensates, a compellingly passionate, impetuous performance. Otherwise, though, established versions such as Klemperer’s (EMI, now Warner) and Minkowski’s (Naïve, reviewed February 2014) remain much more recommendable.


Michael Scott Rohan