Carl Bamberger

Beethoven: Fidelio

(CD - Gala Records #772)

Review by

For deeply dedicated fans of Beethoven's Fidelio, there are two reasons to check out this two-disc set. One is to hear Julius Patzak sing Florestan -- his signature role. Unfortunately, this isn't Patzak's noble Florestan from the justly celebrated and frequently reissued Furtwängler/Flagstad/VPO Fidelio of 1950, but rather an undated later and much lesser performance with Carl Bamberger leading the Nord-Deutsches Symphonie Orchester. Here, Patzak's heroic tenor is a shadow of its former glory with a frayed upper register and a lower register that's mostly bluff. With the exception of Heinz Rehfuss' Don Pizarro, the rest of the cast is forgettable. Likewise, the professional but uninspired conducting of Bamberger finds nothing new in the score and the live-in-performance sound is rough and ready but unattractive. The other reason to check out this set is for the generous helping of bonus tracks: excerpts from a 1957 Salzburg Festival performance of Fidelio featuring Paul Schöffler as Don Pizarro. Although Herbert von Karajan's conducting is objectively brilliant and the rest of the cast is mixed -- Giuseppe Zampieri makes an extremely unlikely Florestan and Schöffler's Don Pizarro is an immensely compelling interpretation that commands instant attention. Whether or not an aging Patzak and excerpts of prime Schöffler will make this set worth checking out is up to the listener.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Title/Composer Performer Time
Fidelio, opera, Op. 72
1
06:19
2
04:09
3
00:24
4
03:37
5
00:22
6
04:10
7
00:27
8
02:33
9
01:02
10
06:00
11
02:02
12
00:46
13
02:46
14
00:26
15
04:14
16
07:22
17
00:29
18
06:41
19
07:04
20
04:20
21
09:29

Track Listing - Disc 2

Title/Composer Performer Time
Fidelio, opera, Op. 72
1
01:39
2
04:17
3
01:07
4
05:24
5
00:29
6
04:32
7
02:55
8
02:07
9
04:15
10
03:05
11
03:52
12
04:45
13
01:05
14
04:18
15
07:45
16
10:04
17
01:37
18
04:08
19
06:24
20
00:45
21
04:50
blue highlight denotes track pick