Thielemann Conducts Faust [Staatskapelle Dresden] Blu-ray Review
- Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
- Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
- Resolution: 1080i/60
- Audio Codec: PCM 2.0 Stereo; DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
- Subtitles: English, Spanish, French, Japanese, Chinese, German, Italian, Korean
- Region: ABC (Region-Free)
- Rating: Not Rated
- Discs: 1
- Studio: C Major
- Blu-ray Release Date: October 25, 2011
- List Price: $39.99
Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures
(Screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG thus are meant as a general representation of the content and do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)
Goethe’s Faust has been the inspiration for numerous musical compositions, including several operas, ballets, and, in this 2011 concert given by the Dresden Staatskapelle Orchestra and Opera chorus, an overture by Richard Wagner and a “tone poem” symphony from Franz Liszt. In fact, the occasion marked the memorial of composer Liszt’s 200th birthday. The opening overture has shades of the later completed opera, Das Fliegende Hollander (The Flying Dutchman), and one wonders what would have happened had Wagner taken the time to follow through on the Faustian theme. By contrast, the Liszt symphony-poem, is a mature work in four movements, the first three of which describe Faust, Gretchen, and Mephistopheles, and the last features the Chorus Mysticus from the end of Goethe’s Faust, rendered by male chorus and tenor soloist.
Christian Thielemann has directed this orchestra for the past few seasons and is now its official music director. In reviewing a series of Thielemann/Dresden recordings, I have watched the synergy between conductor and players develop. This concert shows how far this partnership has come with two works that definitely have not achieved war horse status. The videography and sound reproduction on this BD are both excellent.
This BD has top-flight videography. Director Tilo Krause, himself an accomplished musician and film director, shows great affinity for concert recordings and repeatedly shows a knack for highlighting the soloists which keeping pace with the score. Color reproduction and detail are both outstanding.
The audio recording team must know this hall very well as they have taken great advantage of its warmth and acoustic openness. Maestro Thielemann, as he has shown in previous recordings with these forces shows tremendous understanding of the balances and textures in romantic era music. For example, the opening of the “Gretchen” movement of the Faust Symphony plays like the chamber music it is. He exercises a deft control over the dynamics which can be overwhelming in such pieces; you really do hear everything that is there.
We get C Major trailers, that’s all. Considering the great job this label did with their Beethoven cycle, this is disappointing, to say the least.
The Definitive Word
An evening dedicated to works based on Goethe’s Faust might seem like too much of a good thing. However, Thielemann Conducts Faust is an illuminating example of the gold hidden in two rarely heard concert pieces. He has taken a good orchestra and made into a great one. The solo instrumental work, the choral contribution, and, vocal contribution by tenor Endrik Wottrich are all outstanding. The Liszt symphony challenges all the forces and is carried off superbly. I listened to the concluding vocal movement three times in succession! It is that good. There is no BD competition but I think the bar has been raised to an awfully high level. The audience sat in rapt and silent attention at the conclusion before thunderous applause broke out. This is always the signal of a great event. Without hesitation, I would put this disc near the top of new releases both for the unusual program and the success of its realization.
Additional Screen Captures