The Well-Tempered Music Guy

Simple thoughts by a simple listener on classical music

Monday, May 01, 2006

King of Kings

I haven't posted anything in a while, mostly because I haven't made it to any concerts lately. But I never intended this to be just a repository for amateur concert reviews, so I'm not sure why that's an excuse.

In any case, I recently bought the Bohm recording of Fidelio on DG (now available on a super cheap reissue), after having been severely disappointed with the Karajan, as I wrote about before. Well, I'm happy now. I love this recording, especially the performance of James King, one of my absolute favorite singers, ever since I got the Bohm recording of Die Walkure, the very first opera recording I ever bought (and in my opinion, one of the great classics of the catalog, another subject on which I could ramble for much time). His voice is totally unique, utterly unmistakable. He has a richness and depth of tone that tenors so rarely have, and sings with endless strength and piercing character. He almost sounds like a baritone. I love the way he punctuates some notes at the end with an extra little breath, or alternatively tapers them gorgeously -- listen, for example, to his impossibly glorious singing at the end of the notoriously speedy Boulez Parsifal. In fact, that Parsifal's cast overlaps substantially with the Fidelio recording. The Fidelio is from a couple years earlier, so Gwyneth Jones is stronger, farther removed from her degeneration into a hopelessly huge wobble (she still sounds ok, barely, on the Parsifal, and is actually convincing as a crazed Kundry on the edge). Franz Crass gives warm performances on both recordings. And then, as I was saying, there's King. I can't get enough of his voice, I only wish he had made more recordings. There are some broadcast recordings of various operas floating around, but those are always very expensive and you have no idea what kind of sound quality you're getting. If anyone has an info on any of his other recordings, I'd love to hear it. Shoot me an email (link on the "profile" page).


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