Classical: The Compact Collection
Rob Cowan on the Week's CD Releases
Friday 27 November 1998
As to recorded opera, there is no real substitute for the bustle of live stage action, the thud of boots on boards, lightning vocal exchanges, dares, risks, even occasional misfires. Naxos have been trawling the New York Met's archive, and Austrian Radio's vast storehouse of past operatic productions has already yielded major treasures to Koch, Orfeo, Deutsche Grammophon and EMI. Now RCA are muscling in on the act with their new "Wiener Staatsoper Live" series. Perhaps the most interesting release so far is a 1969 stereo recording of Smetana's Dalibor, in which theatrical echoes of Fidelio (jailed hero, dungeon scene, heroine disguised as a man) and musical reminiscences of Wagner, Liszt and Schumann seem stronger for being paraded in German. There's also a chance to hear sisters Leonie and Lotte Rysanek vie for vocal supremacy (Act 1, scene 6) as well as some impressive acting from Ludovico Spiess (Dalibor) and Eberhard Wachter (King of Bohemia). Josef Krips presides over a score that sings, dances and proudly protests, pressing forwards only as the drama intensifies.
Saint-Saens/Maisky: DG 457 599-2 (full price)
Beethoven/Leopold String Trio: Hyperion CDA67254 (full price)
Smetana/Krips: RCA 74321 57735 2 (2 discs, mid price)
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