Der Freischutz is one of the great milestones in the history of opera. The resounding success of its premiere in 1821 practically made it a manifesto for German Romantic opera, one that would become a significant formative influence on Wagner. Although it has its roots in the Singspiel tradition exemplified by Mozart's Die Zauberflote, Der Freischutz cut new ground with its potent mixture of supernatural elements, dreams, folk melodies, evocations of nature, and symphonic tone painting.
Performances from Pamela Coburn, Brigitte Fassbaender, Janet Perry, Eberhard Wachter, the Choir und Ballet der Bayerischen Staatsoper, and the Bayerisches Staatsorchester. Rosalinde, wife of Eisenstein, is having an affair with Alfred. Eisenstein is due to begin a prison sentence the next morning, and the prison governor, Frank, is expected to collect him at any moment. However, Eisenstein allows himself to be talked into attending a fancy dress ball by Dr Falke, and when Frank arrives to find Alfred with Rosalinde, he assumes him to be Eisenstein and carts him off to prison.
Carlos Kleiber was perhaps the most highly regarded conductor of the late 20th century, but his relatively few excursions into the studio have left the musical world with a frustratingly small number of recordings. Thus we are particularly fortunate that, from among the relatively few appearances in his career, several concerts, one operetta and two operas were filmed. This concert with the Bayerisches Staatsorchester from Munich's Herkulessaal in October 1996 was on of his last.
"The Kleiber must-haves are two New Year's concerts with the Vienna Philharmonic (1989, from Deutsche Grammophon; 1992, from Philips). Here is the very essence of joyous music-making with the added visual value of the sumptuous large hall of the Musikverein in Vienna." - New York Times
“One can share in a more carefree expression of joy here. Many fine conductors have presided over these traditional Strauss tributes, but none with such élan as the late Carlos Kleiber. The music swings and sways in terpsichorean ecstasy. Kleiber appears blissful as he inscribes elegant arcs with his baton, and the players beam.” (Gramophone)
The epic grandeur of Der Rosenkavalier stems not just from its immense length (over three hours) but from the all-too-human complexity of its characters–each of whom is smitten with someone else–and the endless stream of graceful melodies the composer conjures. After the tonality-stretching dissonance of Salome and especially Elektra, Strauss moved onto a different musical path here: the music's sheer gorgeousness has given this most heartbreaking of 20th-century operas its pride of place in the repertory.
As recommendable an album as anyone could wish, Carlos Kleiber's performances with the Vienna Philharmonic of Ludwig van Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67, and the Symphony No. 7 in A major, Op. 92, are classics that should always be within reach, and this disc should be passed along to friends as the single best pairing of these two pieces. Other performances of these symphonies are absolutely essential to know, and recordings by many great conductors and orchestras certainly compete with this Deutsche Grammophon album for listeners' affections. But for sheer excitement, cogent direction, and expressive playing, none is more convincing. Kleiber was highly esteemed for his thorough musicianship, and his clarity of interpretation and communication skills with musicians resulted in performances that were compelling in their power and fascinating for their faithfulness to details in the score.
All five titles included in this set feature a DTS 5.1 surround mix, available for the first time for these programs. Carlos Kleiber’s appearances, whether in the concert hall or opera house, were legendary both for their rarity and the sublime quality of the music-making. It is no exaggeration to say that Kleiber was one of the most sought-after and highly-regarded conductors of the late 20th century.