Mozart: Die Zauberflöte - Carlyle, Lewis, Evans, Sutherland, Hotter, Kelly; Klemperer. London, 1962
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I must admit that what initially drew me to this recording was the Queen of the Night of Joan Sutherland. This was a role that she shied away from in her career no doubt due to the fact that the high f was just a little too high for her already stratospheric vocal abilities. Although both arias are down a half step, she sings the role with a purity of tone of a great Norma, the agility of a great Lucia and the ferocity of a great Turandot. But as impressive it is to hear a great queen of the night, two arias do not an evening at the opera make and this performance can surely stand on its own without star cameos. When one thinks of Otto Klemperer, slow, broad tempi come to mind which can seem incongruous with Mozart style. Fortunately he had enough presence of mind to understand that you cannot approach a vaudeville the same way one might conduct Fidelio, and this performance is surprisingly sprightly. He uses the added trombones in Mozart's orchestra to great effect and creates wonderful, romantic sonorities highlighting the pivot that was happening in Music in the 1790s as composers began to look towards the 19th century. Richard Lewis is an ardent Tamino and sings with grace and heroism. Geraint Evans is a charming Papageno and manages to get laughs even from this non-German speaking audience without the crutch of subtitles. Joan Carlyle is a sweet-voiced Pamina. David Kelly may not be booming as Sarastro but he brings a mellifluous and attractive tone to the role suggesting that the character could still be a relatively young man. Oh, and there is one cameo I didn't mention which is der Sprecher of Hans Hotter. This is an outstanding performance and the sound is good, however despite painstakingly removing a number of clicks in the last ten minutes of act I, I was not able to completely clean up the sound.