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Album: Claudio Abbado, Jonas Kaufmann, Nina Stemme, Beethoven: Fidelio (Decca)

Fidelio is one of the more sombre entries in Beethoven's oeuvre.

Despite its uplifting conclusion, the composer regarded it as his "child of sorrow"; although compared to the medium's abundance of frivolous fairytales, it makes a welcome change to find an opera rooted in human politics and emotions, whose themes reflect the ethical concerns of the Enlightenment. Claudio Abbado's presentation is expertly played and well-sung by the principals, though Jonas Kaufmann's imperious entry as the imprisoned Florestan at the start of Act Two does rather render the preceding act an extended hour-plus preamble.

DOWNLOAD THIS: Gott! Welch Dunkel Hier!; O namenlose Freude!; Abscheulicher! Wo eilst du hin?; Heil sei dem Tag