Wagner - Der fliegende Holländer
BBC Chorus; New Philharmonia Orchestra / Otto Klemperer
EMI Great Recordings of the Century 567408-2 Buy now
(152’ · ADD · T/t)
Theo Adam bass-bar Holländer; Anja Silja sop Senta; Martti Talvela bass Daland; Ernst Kozub ten Erik; Annelies Burmeister mez Mary; Gerhard Unger ten Steuermann
Klemperer’s magisterial interpretation of this work was unavailable in any form for far too long so its reissue was most welcome. As ever, Klemperer by and large justifies some moderate tempi by the way in which he sustains line and emphasises detail. Only once or twice – in the Spinning and Sailors’ choruses – do you sense a lack of propulsion. Otherwise throughout there’s a blazing intensity to the reading that brooks no denial. The storm and sea music in the Overture and thereafter is given stunning power, and the Dutchman’s torture and passion is evoked in the orchestra. Indeed, the playing of the New Philharmonia is a bonus throughout. Klemperer catches as convincingly as anyone the elemental feeling of the work – the sense of the sea, basic passions and the interplay of character unerringly adumbrated.
There have been few baritones before or since Theo Adam who have sustained the line of the Dutchman so well and so intelligently reached the heart of the matter where the text is concerned. Silja’s bright, sometimes piercing timbre isn’t to everyone’s taste but hers is a most moving portrayal of trust, loyalty and love unto death, the interpretation of an outstanding singing actress. Martti Talvela, singing magnificently and suggesting a formidable presence, is a bluff, burly Daland. Ernst Kozub’s Erik has its clumsy moments but one admires the shining tone. Gerhard Unger offers an ardent, cleanly articulated Sailor. Annelies Burmeister is a ripe Mary. The overall sound is a shade on the dry side but doesn’t detract from the enjoyment.