As the chief conductor of the Augsburg Philharmonic Orchestra, Kaftan has put on productions of Turandot, Carmen, and Don Giovanni.
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Classical - Released July 5, 2011 | Ars Produktion
Franz Schreker's opera Der ferne Klang (The Distant Sound) was a huge success at its 1912 premiere in Frankfurt and it established Schreker as one of the foremost opera composers of his time, but with the rise of the Third Reich his works fell out of favor and, like those of Korngold (which they resemble in many ways) never quite found their way back into the standard repertoire. Recordings like this one, taken from a live 2010 performance at the Augsburg Theater, ought to bring this piece to the attention of the broad audience it deserves. After a lovely prelude, the first scenes of the opera get it off to something of a slow start, but by the time the composer hits his stride toward the end of the first act, the music never lets up in its inspired, rhapsodic outpouring. The story is somewhat implausible, which may be part of the reason the opera has failed to catch on: a composer forsakes the love of a good woman and spends his life in the consuming pursuit of an elusive sound. At the end of their long, ruined lives, he and his lover are reconciled and he dies in her arms, but before he can compose the masterpiece that he can finally envision. Schreker acknowledged the autobiographical aspect of the story, and it's easy to hear in the depths of his probing score a composer's passionate striving for musical transcendence. There are numerous moments that are simply magical in their luminous orchestration and evocative harmonies -- most of the opera, in fact -- from the last scenes of the first act to the crushing finale. In the second act, set in a Venetian bordello, Schreker depicts the psychological complexity of the scene with stunning musical inventiveness, layering the orchestral textures and harmonies with contrasting on-stage ensembles. Philharmonisches Orchester Augsburg, under the insightful, energetic leadership of Dirk Kaftan, plays with a gorgeous, radiant tone and with supple, idiomatic lyricism. The solo roles, from the leads to the smallest parts are taken by first-rate singers, although none are familiar on the international scene. As the composer Fritz, tenor Mathias Schulz sings with warmth and passion, and while he could not quite be characterized as a Heldentenor, he has a ringing tone and he soars lyrically through Schreker's demanding lines. Soprano Sally du Randt is terrific as Grete, his beloved. It's a grueling role -- she's onstage and the center of attention for virtually all of the first two acts and much of the third -- but du Randt handles it with apparent ease. She makes very credible transitions vocally and dramatically from a simple peasant girl to a worldly courtesan to a common street-walker, and never sounds less than fabulous. She performs with the charisma and self-possession of a real star and is definitely a singer to watch out for. The sound of the hybrid SACD is excellent for a live recording, with good balance, a warm, detailed ambience, and minimal ancillary noise. Highly recommended for fans of post-Romantic opera. © TiVo