Karl Böhm

Beethoven: Fidelio

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AllMusic Review by

Whatever you think you know about Karl Böhm, you don't know anything about Karl Böhm until you've heard this Fidelio. No matter how impressive his earlier recordings of Beethoven's only opera were -- and the live one from Vienna during the war was stunning -- this 1969 performance from Dresden is staggering. Sure, the singing is terrific. With the expressive James King as Florestan, the massive Martti Talvela as Don Fernando, the malevolent Theo Adam as Don Pizarro, and especially the glorious and gorgeous Gwyneth Jones as Leonore, all the leads are superlative, and with the hilarious Franz Crass as Rocco, the sweet Edith Mathis as Marzelline, and particularly the sensitive Peter Schreier as Jaquino, all the lesser roles are superbly characterized. And, sure, with the strong, subtle, and colorful Staatskapelle Dresden in the pit and Leipziger Rundfunkchor and the Chor der Staatoper Dresden on-stage with the soloists in the tremendous Act II Finale, the orchestra and chorus are magnificent. But the hero of this Fidelio is Böhm, who knows the composer and the work so thoroughly that he can allow the work's elevated emotionalism and passionate idealism pour through the music into the hearts and souls of the listeners. Indeed, not only is this Böhm's most compelling Fidelio, it surely ranks with the exalted Furtwängler and the invincible Klemperer as one of the most compelling ever recorded. DG's stereo sound is overwhelmingly vivid and almost unbearably present.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Fidelio, opera, Op. 72
1 06:16
2 04:55
3 00:13
4 04:10
5 01:01
6 04:52
7 00:24
8 02:38
9 01:28
10 06:49
11 02:04
12 00:58
13 02:58
14 00:31
15 05:10
16 07:15
17 00:52
18 06:34
19 07:21
20 03:33
blue highlight denotes track pick