Review by: Robert Levine
Artistic Quality: 4
Sound Quality: 6
Here, in pretty good sound (glare notwithstanding), is an energetic, fast-moving, lean performance of Rosenkavalier under the wonderful Carlos Kleiber from Munich in July, 1977. Kleiber never recorded this opera commercially but I recall a couple of live performances under him at the Met; they were direct, funny, and very low on sentiment and schlag. So is this one. I’d recommend it if Helga Dernesch, as the Marschallin, didn’t make such nasty sounds. Her voice always was problematically mezzo-ish and/or soprano-ish, and by ’77 the bloom was off it entirely. While she makes much of the text and reins herself in quite nicely near the end of Act 1, she’s never pleasant to hear and she seriously mars the final trio.
Brigitte Fassbaender and Lucia Popp are a wonderful pair of lovers, with the latter really fresh and the former truly ardent, impetuous, and boyish (albeit a little too aggressive at times, resorting almost to Sprechstimme), and Kurt Moll, who recorded the role in the studio more than once, here is better than in any of those outings: he personifies Ochs and the voice is spectacularly expressive. The rest of the cast is surprisingly provincial. What to say? This really can’t be recommended.
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Recording Details:Reference Recording: Karajan/Schwarzkopf (EMI)
RICHARD STRAUSS - Der Rosenkavalier