Karl Böhm

Mozart: Don Giovanni

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In his lifetime, Austrian conductor Karl Böhm was acknowledged to be one of the greatest living Mozart conductors. This meant not only frequent appearances throughout the German-speaking world, but also frequent recordings of the standard orchestral and operatic works. In his career, Böhm made two official recordings of Don Giovanni for Deutsche Grammophon: an earlier recording made in Prague with the Orchester des Nationaltheaters Prag featuring German baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau in the title role and this later recording made at the 1977 Salzburg Festival with the Wiener Philharmoniker featuring American baritone Sherrill Milnes. Although this recording has its merits, principal among them the playing of the Wiener Philharmoniker, it has two huge drawbacks: the singing and the conducting. The flaws in the singing start, but do not end, with Milnes. A loud, blustery baritone who substitutes volume for conviction, Milnes is a singularly unseductive Don. Almost equally awful are screechy sopranos Teresa Zylis-Gara as Donna Elvira and Anna Tomowa-Sintow as Donna Anna. There are, thankfully, better singers on hand -- particularly the smooth Peter Schreier as Don Ottavio, the hilarious Walter Berry as Leporello, and the delightful Edith Mathis as Zerlina -- but with Milnes' shouting and stamping, it's hard to enjoy their performances. Unfortunately, Böhm's conducting here is nowhere near in the same league as his earlier performance: attacks and releases are less precise, balances and textures are less clear, rhythms and tempos are less cogent, and even the sumptuous playing of the Wiener Philharmoniker is less lovely than the playing of the Orchester des Nationaltheaters Prag. This is not to say that Böhm's conducting is anywhere near as disagreeable as Milnes' singing -- even at his weakest, Böhm is by far the greater musician -- but it is to say that, given the choice of his two official recordings of Don Giovanni, the earlier is much to be preferred.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
Don Giovanni, opera, K. 527
1 06:17 Amazon
2 06:01 Amazon
3 00:31 Amazon
4 00:11 Amazon
5 02:52 Amazon
6 04:31 Amazon
7 01:32 Amazon
8 03:45 Amazon
9 02:59 Amazon
10 06:34 Amazon
11 01:33 Amazon
12 02:16 Amazon
13 01:38 Amazon
14 02:01 Amazon
15 03:40 Amazon
16 00:46 Amazon
17 01:23 Amazon
18 01:12 Amazon
19 04:27 Amazon
20 00:24 Amazon
21 03:23 Amazon
22 03:14
23 04:53 Amazon
24 01:35 Amazon
25 01:44 Amazon

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
Don Giovanni, opera, K. 527
1 01:22
2 03:59
3 00:34
4 02:02
5 02:37
6 04:52
7 11:12
8 01:08
9 01:45
10 05:18
11 02:03
12 02:06
13 01:07
14 02:57
15 00:51
16 01:43
17 04:11
18 00:30
19 08:25

Track Listing - Disc 3

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
Don Giovanni, opera, K. 527
1 00:21
2 01:44
3 00:43
4 05:02
5 02:04
6 04:36
7 04:27
8 03:40
9 00:53
10 01:55
11 05:38
12 05:00
13 03:49
14 08:12
15 07:29
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