Pfitzner: Palestrina - Lorenz, Schöffler, Frantz, Madeira, Von Rohr, Söderström, Frick; Kempe. Salzburg. 1955


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When I was 18 years old Palestrina came in a touring production to New York City.  Assuming that this would be one of my only chances to hear this opera I made the trek from Boston.  The evening left a deep impression, due in no small part to the excellent cast, and I have found myself returning to this mysterious opera often throughout my life.  The plot of the opera centers on an apocryphal legend of Palestrina saving polyphony.  On paper that doesn't seem like a very interesting subject for an opera, but Pfitzner's music does a wonderful job of painting the mood both of Palestrina and the contentious council of Trent.  The music has a suspended quality much like Parsifal.  This performance does an excellent job of advocating for the works' merits.  Max Lorenz in the title role is a little past his prime but still uses his over-sized tenor with restraint and class.  Paul Schöffler is a stern Borromeo and some of the smaller roles include the likes of Elisabeth Söderström, Gottlob Frick, Jean Madeira and Ferdinand Frantz.  The sound is good.

OD 10789-3