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Strauss J & R - Die Fledermaus & Der Rosenkavalier X 2

Carlos Kleiber - Complete Opera DVDs on DG

Strauss, J, II: Die Fledermaus (Otto Schenk, Munich, 1987)
Strauss, R: Der Rosenkavalier (Otto Schenk, Munich, 1979 & Vienna, 1994)

Beethoven: Coriolan Overture, Op. 62; Symphonies Nos. 4 & 7
Brahms: Symphonies Nos No. 2 & 4
Mozart: Symphonies Nos. 33 & 36
New Year's Concerts (1989 & 1992)

DG Unitel - 0734605 (10 DVDs Digistak with full tracklisting; c. £50 online)

This bargain recycling of famous performances by the famous son of an equally famous father, going back to the days of VHS, betamax and laserdisc, is irresistible, with a positive advantage in the convenient compact packaging.

Tracklisting apart, there are no commentaries. However, for the operas there are clear subtitles (in languages of choice) and navigation is smooth.

My memories of the Kleibers father and son go back to having heard Erich in London (not Rosenkavalier; his recording of it is available on Naxos Historical) and Carlos (Rosenkavalier at Covent Garden, 1974).

The wordiness of Der Rosenkavalier makes DVD (for me) the best way to enjoy this opera, as against having to look up from the opera stage at the surtitles...

The earlier of the Rosenkavalier performances is generally preferred for its perfect casting (Gwyneth Jones, Brigitte Fassbaender, Lucia Popp & Francisco Araiza), but the other " - - rises to the occasion when it counts. The worldly melancholy of Felicity Lott's Marschallin, Anne Sofie von Otter's lanky Octavian and Barbara Bonney's cuddly Sophie come together in great moments of nostalgia and joy - - ."

It is well worth having these two accounts preserved together.

Likewise Die Fledermaus: " - - high on sheer zest and unabashed gaiety. - - For joy and verve, this is as good as "Fledermaus" gets - - "

These re-releases are worthy mementos of Carlos Kleiber, an eccentric genius who was also famous for often cancelling rehearsals and appearances, so we are lucky to have this legacy.

Sampling the orchestral concerts has confirmed expectations; wonderfully ripe interpretations of major favourites, Kleiber's way with the orchestra at once trusting and demanding; he is a conductor whose performances gain from watching him and his players, and the filming from th '80s is fine.

Recommended unreservedly.

Peter Grahame Woolf

Collectors of concerts on disc will enjoy the DVDs of Beethoven, Brahms, Mozart & J Strauss II also included, and will want the parallel release of a box of Carlos Kleiber CDs which includes operas Die Fledermaus, La Traviata, Tristan und Isolde & Der Freischütz [DG 4778826].

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