Academic journal article Notes

Bernd Alois Zimmermann

Academic journal article Notes

Bernd Alois Zimmermann

Article excerpt

Bernd Alois Zimmermann. Die Soldaten. DVD (Blu-ray). Ingo Metzmacher / Vienna Philharmonic. Directed by Alvis Hermanis. With Alfred Muff, Laura Aikin, Tanja Ariane Baumgartner, Tomasz Konieczny, Renée Morloc, Gabriela Benacková, Matthias Klink, Daniel Brenna, Wolfgang Ablinger, Boaz Daniel. [Berlin]: EuroArts, 2013. 2072584. $39.99.

As its fiftieth anniversary approaches, Die Soldaten seems to be making a renewed bid for canonicity: it has been staged in six cities since 2002 and will be produced in two more in 2014. So it is an auspicious time to have a new production released on video, the first to be widely available since the Stuttgart production was re-released on DVD (Arthaus Musik, 100270 [2002, 1989]). With its excellent musical perfor- mances, detailed characterization, and straightforward direction, this perfor- mance, recorded at the Salzburg Festival in August 2012, stands as an eminently plausi- ble record of an important and difficult twentieth-century work.

Three of the principals deserve the high- est praise: Laura Aikin, as Marie, Tomasz Konieczny, as her fiancé Stozius, and Daniel Brenna, as Desportes, the soldier re- sponsible for Marie's ruin. Aikin in particu- lar is astonishing, bringing complication and emotion to the role in her physical act- ing, in her facial expressions, and above all in her vocalism (she is a celebrated Lulu with formidable atonal credentials). Brenna's registral extremes, especially at the high end, come across as appropriately strained yet precisely colored as he ranges from a capably menacing seducer to a con- temptible villain. Konieczny seethes with rage and frustration throughout much of the opera, biting into spiky, bitter lines. All three characterizations are convincing, grounded, and physically dynamic.

Orchestrally, too, it is hard to imagine a more expert team, as the Vienna Phil- harmonic (conducted by Ingo Metz- macher) brings its singular confidence and virtuosity to bear on a fiendishly difficult score. Balance is mostly excellent (except when intertwining vocal lines overlap with occasionally thick orchestral textures, as in the Toccatas), and the sound quality is crys- tal clear, bringing to light an impressive sense of the score's timbral details. …

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