Beethoven: Fidelio - H. Konetzni, Friederich, Schwarzkopf, Schöffler, Weber; Kraus. London, 1947
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This performance of Fidelio from 1947 must have had extra significance for Britons just emerging from the devastation of World War II. What is doubly significant is that the cast of excellent singers is largely German. It is hard to imagine the emotions of that evening having not lived through war, but what is certain is that they got a performance that was nothing short of first rate. As Leonore, Hilde Konetzni’s silver soprano radiates all of the character’s hope and determination, soaring over the orchestra with the ease of a Mozartian and the power of a Wagnerian. Elisabeth Schwarzkopf stands out as a winsome Marcellina and Paul Schöffler’ Pizzaro is both terrifying and strangely alluring. Clemens Kraus leads a crisp performance. The sound is as you would expect of the era and there is some music missing from the Act I finale.