OP2109. DER ROSENKAVALIER, Live Performance, 3 March, 1995, w.Andrew Davis Cond. Royal Opera House Ensemble; Ann Murray, Anna Tomawa-Sintow, Barbara Bonney, Kurt Moll, etc. (UK) 3-Opus Arte OA CD9006D. - 809478090069
“From the not too distant past, here comes a live ROSENKAVALIER from the Royal Opera House. It boasts several splendid assumptions of the central characters. The production was first seen and heard in 1984 and of the original cast Barbara Bonney's Sophie was still with us in 1995. Anna Tomowa-Sintow had been singing the Marschallin since 1979 and was well inside the role, having recorded it under Karajan for DG in 1984; Kurt Moll was Ochs there too. As for Ann Murray I haven't been able to find another recording so admirers of her Octavian can at last add this one to their collection.
A BBC recording from as recently as 1995 is technically more or less on a par with studio efforts of the same vintage…This is a valuable document of a fine evening in the opera house.
I can't remember ever hearing an opera recording with Andrew Davis but he gives a very positive impression. There's a fine rhythmic lilt in the marvellous waltzes that permeate this opera….this is a fresh reading that can bear repetition.
In the first act Anna Tomowa-Sintow invests considerable art in the monologue ‘Die Zeit die ist ein sonderbar Ding’. This is one of those magic moments in this opera and in all opera, and it brings at least this listener somewhat closer to heaven every time I hear it. Here her enunciation of the text and the intimacy of her address is close to the best readings I have heard. Ann Murray's Octavian is also vibrant but she has almost tangible presence.
Kurt Moll is uncharacteristically rusty to begin with – maybe he wasn't properly warmed-up – but he quickly overcomes this. For the rest of the performance he is his usual confident self with pitch black bottom notes and sonorous singing overall. And he is expressive and less of the boor that one traditionally expects Ochs to be. After all he is a baron and has learnt some manners! At the confrontation with Sophie he lightens his voice considerably and is honeyed and seductive. Later in the act his monologue ‘Da lieg' ich’ is sung with such exquisite nuance that one suddenly remembers that Kurt Moll was also a great Lieder singer.
Barbara Bonney is not one of those shy, innocent, whimpering little girls but ‘an adolescent on the verge of womanhood, fighting for what she wants, fighting against parental authority' as Ms Bonney is quoted saying in the booklet. Her reading is one of the best on any recording.
Alan Opie is a good Faninal and it is fantastic. He has managed to preserve his voice admirably through a long career! Leah-Marian Jones sings a lovely Annina and Bonaventura Bottone sings the Italian tenor's ‘Di rigori armato’ beautifully and with restraint.”
- Göran Forsling, MusicWebInternational
“Kurt Moll, the imposing German bass whose theatrical flair and cavernous low notes allowed him to plumb the serenity, humor and ferocity of a wide array of operatic characters created by Mozart, Strauss and Wagner, was his generation’s pre-eminent Baron Ochs in Strauss’ DER ROSENKAVALIER, mixing humor with a distinct tinge of menace in his portrayal of the character, a boorish lecher who gets his comeuppance. It was not a role that came easily to him. ‘Well, it took me forever to do it properly’, Mr. Moll said in a wide-ranging interview with THE NEW YORK TIMES in 1979. ‘It’s probably the hardest role in the bass repertory, and what’s hard is capturing the infinite number of nuances of both the language and the music. No doubt about it, Ochs is a real killer!’
But Mr. Moll was equally persuasive in other, quite different parts. He made a spiritual, magisterial Sarastro in Mozart’s DIE ZAUBERFLÖTE. Reviewing a 1991 performance, Donal Henahan wrote in THE TIMES that he ‘not only projected Sarastro’s mystic nobility and humanity, but also, more solidly and audibly than any basso profundo in years, the role’s subterranean F’s and F sharps of his two arias’.
Mr. Moll was a comic, scene-stealing Osmin in Mozart’s DIE ENTFÜHRUNG AUS DEM SERAIL and a stentorian Commendatore in Mozart’s DON GIOVANNI. And he sang a wide range of Wagner’s fathers, cuckolds, giants and monarchs. He became especially known for his Gurnemanz, the old knight in PARSIFAL.
Mr. Moll once offered an insight into his approach to singing opera while discussing how, in Wagner’s TRISTAN UND ISOLDE, he tackled the part of the melancholy King Marke, who loses his bride to his would-be heir. ‘His monologue contains some of the most ravishing music ever written, but it’s also very long and very inward’, he said . ‘If the bass isn’t careful, he will find that his audience has fallen fast asleep by the end of it. You can stand there in your beard, and that beard will seem to get longer and longer as you sing’.”
- Michael Cooper, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 9 March, 2017