Paul Hindemith: Cardillac

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Stephen Eddins
"Cardillac," written in 1926, the first of Hindemith's career-spanning trilogy of operas about the relationship between the artist/intellectual and society the others being "Mathis der Maler" 1935, on the life of sixteenth century painter Mathias Grünewald, and "Die Harmonie der Welt" 1957, based on the life of astronomer Johannes Keppler, is easily the liveliest of the lot. Clocking in at less than an hour and a half, it's packed with some of the composer's most vital and engaging music. It's also exceptionally strange. The protagonist is a seventeenth century Parisian goldsmith who, for the love of his creations, murders everyone who dares buy one of them. The ...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Stephen Eddins
"Cardillac," written in 1926, the first of Hindemith's career-spanning trilogy of operas about the relationship between the artist/intellectual and society the others being "Mathis der Maler" 1935, on the life of sixteenth century painter Mathias Grünewald, and "Die Harmonie der Welt" 1957, based on the life of astronomer Johannes Keppler, is easily the liveliest of the lot. Clocking in at less than an hour and a half, it's packed with some of the composer's most vital and engaging music. It's also exceptionally strange. The protagonist is a seventeenth century Parisian goldsmith who, for the love of his creations, murders everyone who dares buy one of them. The dim-witted citizens and police fail to make any connection between the odd coincidence of the purchases and murders until Cardillac finally confesses. A crowd then beats him to death, but after his daughter explains that the murders were merely the consequence of his love of beauty, they sing a ravishing eulogy, easily one of Hindemith's loveliest and most rhapsodic creations. It takes a wily director to plausibly bring this off on the stage and is probably possible only by capitalizing fully on the irony and sense of absurdity with which Hindemith drenches the score. The BelAir Classiques DVD of André Engel's stylish production at l'Opéra de Paris brilliantly demonstrates that it can, in fact, be done. In general, though, an audio recording of the opera may be the best way to experience its full musical impact, and this performance succeeds in conveying the opera's power, strange beauty, and eccentricity. Joseph Keilberth, conducting the Cologne Radio Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, leads a driving, visceral performance of propulsive momentum. His sensitivity to Hindemith's weird fluctuations in tempo highlights the opera's surreal dramaturgy. He keeps things moving at such a clip, with such manic energy, that there is hardly a moment to ponder the plot's weakness, but he also allows the music to bloom with lyrical expansiveness at Hindemith's most effulgent moments, and the opera's elegiac closing is ravishing. Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau is at the height of his powers both vocally and dramatically, and his Cardillac is so complex and multifaceted that the character is actually believable, and even sympathetic. Other standouts are Eberhard Katz and Elisabeth Söderstrom as the ill-fated Cavalier and his Lady, who sing with radiant energy as the impetuous young lovers, and her second act aria is a highlight of the CD, both for her glowing performance and the limpid grace of the music. As the Officer in love with Cardillac's daughter, Donald Grobe sings with clarion tone and is strikingly heroic, but Leonore Kirschstein is stiff and uninflected as the Daughter. Karl Christian Köhn as the Gold Merchant and Willi Nett as the Police Officer offer vivid, memorable characterizations in their relatively small roles. The sound, taken from a live 1968 radio broadcast, is adequate, but is far murkier than the studio recording Keilberth made with the same cast for Deutsche Grammophon, a flaw that's particularly noticeable in the massed crowd scenes, which are muddy, and in the quiet moments, which are hazily indistinct.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 4/14/2009
  • Label: Opera D'oro
  • UPC: 723721400255
  • Catalog Number: 7067
  • Sales rank: 257,735

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1–18 Cardillac, opera, Op. 39 - Paul Hindemith & WDR Rundfunkchor Köln (89:53)
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
Joseph Keilberth Primary Artist
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