WAGNER Der fliegende Holländer
Der fliegende Holländer – despite being a ghost story with spectacular outdoor scenes – is essentially a chamber opera about the frustrations of rejection and the best performances that have come down to us are the ones that play up this theme most. Andris Nelsons certainly obliges here with the attention he pays to the Holländer’s woes in Act 1 and the big Act 2 duet with Senta (‘Ach! Könntest das Geschick du ahnen…’), or Erik’s in his prior dream narration. The conductor and his orchestra are exciting throughout but he never attempts, pace disc rivals Solti, Karajan and Levine, to blow this score up into the later grand-opera-scale music drama that it isn’t. There’s always time and (musical) balance for the private moments in a basically swift traversal of the score.
It helps here that Terje Stensvold is (literally) a senior Holländer, almost three score years and ten at the time of recording. In the best possible way – try any of the monologues – he sounds intentionally like he’s been at sea a long time. You may want also to seek more vocal sap and more forza elsewhere (London and Hotter for two), but Stensvold’s enunciation of the role through the text is both moving and understanding. He sounds well opposite Kwangchul Youn’s now also highly experienced father Daland and Anja Kampe’s remarkable Senta: remarkable because she has exactly the kind of Helden-Weber soprano (bright, sensitive, penetrating, not too heavy) that this role cries out for but so rarely gets. A fine achievement. Praise is also due to Christopher Ventris’s detailed, well-understood Erik (never a crybaby) and the three guest German choruses. The opera is given in the ‘final’ revised (ie Tristan ending) version, although the music (very sensibly) comes to a full close at the end of Act 1 and Nelsons’s conducting is clearly aware of earlier versions and balances. Fine recording. Hugely recommended.