Jonas Kaufmann / Nina Stemme / Claudio Abbado

Beethoven: Fidelio

(Digital Download - Decca #)

Review by

One of the outstanding qualities of this recording of Fidelio from the 2010 Lucerne Festival is the depth of the casting, down to the smallest roles; the singers in secondary and tertiary parts may not be internationally renowned, but they all deliver first-rate performances. Having a singer of Peter Mattei's stature and distinctiveness as Don Fernando, who doesn't even show up until the finale, is real luxury casting. Soprano Rachel Harnisch, bass Christof Fischesser, and tenor Christoph Strehl as Marzelline, Rocco, and Jaquino, are not widely familiar names, but their performances are simply superb, sharply characterized, and beautifully sung. Harnisch and Strehl's duet that opens the opera establishes the expectation that this is going to be an exceptional performance, and when the quartet is joined by Fischesser and Nina Stemme in the title role, it is a marvel of musical subtlety and emotional complexity. Falk Struckmann is not entirely consistent as Don Pizarro; his presence is effectively menacing, but in the first act he tends to sound forced and his intonation in occasionally questionable. By the second act he seems to have found his footing and is far more persuasive. Tenor Jonas Kaufmann delivers a powerfully dramatic performance and sounds even more baritonal than he usually does, which is appropriate for this role, especially in the aria that opens Act II. Stemme doesn't come across with the personal force the role requires, but her singing is lovely and expressive throughout. Claudio Abbado leads the Mahler Chamber Orchestra/Lucerne Festival Orchestra and Arnold Schoenberg Chor in a terrific performance of the score, by turns urgently propulsive and achingly lyrical. His insightful pacing and the sensitive orchestral playing contribute hugely to the impact of the performance. The sound is clean and detailed, but the voices generally could afford to be slightly more present; they certainly aren't swamped by the orchestra but balance would have been finer if the soloists had been more in the foreground.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
Fidelio, Op. 72
1 06:20 Amazon
2 04:53 Amazon
3 00:12 Amazon
4 03:41 Amazon
5 00:54 Amazon
6 04:31 Amazon
7 00:17 Amazon
8 02:35 Amazon
9 00:30 Amazon
10 06:39 Amazon
11 02:08 Amazon
12 00:49 Amazon
13 03:31 Amazon
14 00:05 Amazon
15 05:14 Amazon
16 07:23 Amazon
17 00:21 Amazon
18 06:56 Amazon
19 05:20 Amazon
20 00:42 Amazon
21 01:50 Amazon
22 03:45 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick