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Description du produit
PREMIER ENREGISTREMENT CHEZ DECCA DU "CHEVALIER A LA ROSE" DEPUIS CELUI DE SIR GEORG SOLTI EN 1968 ! Ce nouvel enregistrement du Chevalier à la Rose (Der Rosenkavalier) de Strauss a été capté live durant le Festival de Baden Baden en janvier 2009. La distribution de cette production a été qualifiée "d'intergalactique" par le chef d'orchestre Christian Thielemann lui-même ! Renée Fleming, connue et reconnue pour ses interprétations sans égales des héroïnes straussiennes, est lumineuse et passionnée dans le rôle de la Maréchale. C'est certainement le rôle le plus important de son répertoire : on se souvient encore de sa performance flamboyante à l'Opéra Bastille en 1998 ! Elle est entourée des plus belles voix de la scène actuelle : Sophie Koch (Octavia), Diana Damrau (Sofie), Franz Hawlata (Ochs) et Jonas Kaufmann, qui fait une apparition remarquable dans le rôle de l'aubergiste. CE COFFRET FERA DATE DANS LA DISCOGRAPHIE DE L'OEUVRE !
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Certainly we may gauge the quality of the Münchner Philharmoniker in such passages as the extended Prelude and Pantomime opening Act III. They do not have the quite the lush, voluptuous heft of the Vienna Philharmonic under Solti but they play under Thielemann with nuance, drive and wit, and in moments such as the orchestral introduction to the Presentation of the Silver Rose they capture beautifully the requisite shimmering quality and otherworldly poise, despite the rather flat acoustic of the Festspielhaus as recorded. Thielemann's direction is not unduly indulgent; he gave notice of his affinity with operatic Strauss in his excellent rendition of the suite from "Der Rosenkavalier" as an adjunct to a truly impressive his "Ein Alpensinfonie" on DG in 2000 and here he brings out both the contrapuntal brilliance and the gorgeous, swooning harmonies of Strauss's writing in a performance which demonstrates his mastery of the idiom. The audience is quiet and the aural picture here is clean, clear and well-balanced if rather "neutral" and lacking ambience, allowing us to hear details without being very "present".
So already in terms of conducting, orchestral playing and recorded sound, this recording is competitive without necessarily jumping to the head of the queue. That leaves the voices...and that's where my doubts creep in.
Yet two singers are simply glorious. Just in time, we finally have a commercial recording, albeit live rather than studio, of today's premier Strauss soprano in her best role. To my ears there is little indication of wear in Renée Fleming's smoky, creamy soprano and long experience as the Marschallin has lent her interpretation more depth of expression. She sounds mature but never middle-aged. The Marschallin should still be a young woman in a loveless marriage dallying with a toyboy; Fleming's rich, long-breathed tones capture all her wry, wistful, rueful resignation without turning her into a caricature of a desperate matron. She is warm and poignant, often capitalising on the tangy resonance of her lower register to balance the floated top notes and she is especially touching at key moments such as when she narrates getting up in the night to stop all the clocks in her attempts to halt the march of time.
Just as impressive is Jonas Kaufmann's preening Italian singer, effortlessly delivering an impassioned account of the retrospective aria in that wonderfully virile, baritonal tenor - it's a shame about the intrusive on-stage applause which cuts across the end of his commanding command performance.
Hawlata's Ochs is, for all its comic inventiveness, vocally a disappointment. I am glad that he doesn't take the modern route of turning him into a menacing thug; he is essentially a risible buffoon, somewhat broadly characterised in a manner which is often coarse, whereas previous celebrated exponents such as Jungwirth, Ridderbusch and, above all, Moll, allow us to remember that he is still an aristocrat, albeit a boorish one. The heavy Ober Österreich accent is amusing but his bass is dry, lacking the rotund low notes and either straining at or crooning his top F's and F sharps.
Likewise, the veteran Franz Grundheber's Faninal is amusing but vocally close to an embarrassment, his baritone being so rocky and hollow. Supporting roles are adequate without being striking or especially pleasing on the ear.
However, the real problems start with the dreaded wobble which afflicts the voices of both Sophie Koch and, more intermittently, Diana Damrau. I recently reviewed Damrau's Donna Anna in the new "Don Giovanni" from a concert performance in the same venue as this recording and by 2011 the vibrato had begun to loosen distressingly. Here, two years earlier, the tendency is merely incipient; she is true and musical but without purity and steadiness of tonal emission still cannot hold a candle to the likes of Kathleen Battle, Lucia Popp or Barbara Bonney. Similarly, the continuous, obtrusive beat in Koch's mezzo-soprano makes her sound excessively womanly in a bosomy fashion rather boyishly impetuous. When Octavian launches the famous concluding trio we should be swept along on a warm raft of steady sound, not bothered by lumpy tone. There is an egregious contrast between the sweet pulse of Fleming's voice and the puttering of her soprano companions. This is not a constant issue and some may be far less sensitised to than I; I readily admit that the great climaxes still worked their magic for me and I often forgot my objections.
Attractively packaged with a full libretto in two sections, ultimately this is not another classic set but one which will appeal primarily to the many admirers of Fleming.
If you can limit your focus to Fleming's complete embodiment of the Marschallin as a character, abetted by Thielemann's strong orchestral work - he deserves his reputation as the leading Strauss opera conductor of the day - this CD version of a filmed DVD contains a great deal of liveliness and thrust. By comparison, quite a few prestigious Rosenkavaliers of the past, where the singing cast is impeccable, feel dramatically inert: Haitink and the remake by Karajan come to mind. Here, you are in the theater watching vital characters caught in vexing comic predicaments. After initial disappointment with the singing in the opening boudoir scene, I perked up once Ochs entered - this is a performance where the public action is better than the intimacy, although Fleming makes a moving personal triumph out of the Marschallin's monologue on time in Act I (to be ranked up there with Reining, Schwarzkopf, and Crespin on recordings).
Unlike Mr. Moore, who notices Franz Hawlata's vocal flaws, I find him an amusing, domineering Ochs, an earthy aristocrat who could care less than he's the bull in anyone's china shop, and he alone brings us the echt Viennese tone that was once synonymous with this opera - on disc, the perfect embodiment of Ochs was a delicious choice between Ludwig Weber for Erich Kleiber and Otto Edelmann for Karajan in the classic, I might say immortal, version on EMI. For decades one couldn't speak of Rosenkavalier without bowing to those two sets, and time hasn't dulled their majesty, even with brave forays from Carlos Kleiber and Solti.
Diana Damrau seems to make a brilliant stage impression wherever she appears, but I've never seen her and can only judge the voice, which she uses dramatically and vivaciously; I greatly admired her CD of Strauss orchestral songs, also under Thielemann. But if examined for purity, evenness, and security of tone, Damrau's lyric soprano can't stand comparison with most of her predecessors. This bothers Mr. Moore considerably, and I see his point, but if you can accept what she is offering, Damrau's Sophie makes a strong impression, very different from the tremulous girl-bride we usually hear. As recorded here, unfortunately, the top notes carry a sting.
I've tried to describe with some objectivity what I hear on these discs, but in reality everyone who loves Der Rosenkavalier relates to it with a tender heart. I'm so grateful for a sincere, ardent performance of this caliber that I can forgive a good deal that others might not. You'll have to judge for yourself if the whole is greater than the sum of its imperfect parts.
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