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Recordings

20 Jan 2005

BERG: Wozzeck

Andante’s new mastering of famous live performances aims to capture what those performances might have felt like. This gives these recordings an automatic cachet of authenticity and a kind of cult status. However, much depends on the quality of the particular performance. The skill is to choose quality performances that really are interesting in themselves, and to remaster them in ways that do them justice. The Andante series comes impressively packaged, with luxuriously bound booklets, beautifully presented. However, in this case the music does not quite match the promise. Worthy as this performance is, and worthy it is indeed, it is not an ideal first choice. Artistically it is good, but best appreciated by those who know Abbado, Boulez, Dohnanyi and even Böhm’s later recording. While I’m one who listens for music, not for sound quality, in this case the sound quality is poor enough to distract – not enough to ruin listening, for it would take a lot to deter a genuine listener – but just enough to feel that you’re listening through an artificial medium. This may have been recorded live, but it doesn’t “feel” live, with the pops, crackles and occluded passages. Ultimately that defeats its own purpose.

Alban BERG (1885-1935)
Wozzeck (1917-1921)

Walter Berry, bar (Wozzeck); Max Lorenz, ten (Tambourmajor); Murray Dickie, ten (Andres); Peter Klein, ten (Hauptmann); Karl Dönch, bass-bar (Doctor); Harald Pröglhof, bass-bar (Erster Handwerksbursch); Marjan Rus, bar (Zweiter Handwerksbursch); William Wernigk, ten (Der Narr); Christel Goltz, sop (Marie); Polly Batic, alto (Margret).

Orchestra and Chorus of the Vienna State Opera/Karl Böhm
rec. live, Vienna State Opera Festival, 25 November 1955.
Mono. DDD 2004
includes 176pp booklet and libretto

ANDANTE AN 3060 [35'44" + 60'04"]

Andante's new mastering of famous live performances aims to capture what those performances might have felt like. This gives these recordings an automatic cachet of authenticity and a kind of cult status. However, much depends on the quality of the particular performance. The skill is to choose quality performances that really are interesting in themselves, and to remaster them in ways that do them justice. The Andante series comes impressively packaged, with luxuriously bound booklets, beautifully presented. However, in this case the music does not quite match the promise. Worthy as this performance is, and worthy it is indeed, it is not an ideal first choice. Artistically it is good, but best appreciated by those who know Abbado, Boulez, Dohnanyi and even Böhm's later recording. While I'm one who listens for music, not for sound quality, in this case the sound quality is poor enough to distract - not enough to ruin listening, for it would take a lot to deter a genuine listener - but just enough to feel that you're listening through an artificial medium. This may have been recorded live, but it doesn't "feel" live, with the pops, crackles and occluded passages. Ultimately that defeats its own purpose.

[Click here for remainder of review.]

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