Friedrich von Flotow: Martha
Maria Bengtsson (Lady Harriet Durham), Katharina Magiera (Nancy), Barnaby Rea (Lord Tristan Mickleford), AJ Glueckert (Lyonel), Björn Bürger (Plumkett), Franz Mayer (The Mayor of Richmond), Frankfurt Opera Chorus, Tilman Michael (chorus master), Frankfurt Opera and Museum Orchestra, Sebastian Weigle (conductor)
Recorded from live performances at Frankfurt Opera (October 2016) – 122’28
2 CDs Oehms Classics OC 972 – Booklet notes in German and English, libretto in German
Back in 2013 I wrote this review of the vintage 1944 recording of Flotow’s Martha. Every few years a new recording appears featuring leading performers of the day from the countries (basically Germany and Austria) where the work is still performed. (My earlier review laments its absence elsewhere.) It seems to be the turn of Frankfurt Opera and thus we welcome well-produced recording from them on the Oehms label.
It could be argued that the lead soprano and tenor (Erna Berger as Lady Harriett and Peter Anders as Lyonel) on the earlier recording have a bit of an edge over the leading pairs in Frankfurt, Maria Bengtsson and AJ Glueckert, but all five leads on the current recording are fully up to the mark although, this being a live performance, not everyone is placed at the most advantageous spot at all times. Everyone sounds as if they are having fun, particularly contralto Katharina Magiera as Nancy. A major plus for this recording is that it is complete, the earlier one lacking some 15 minutes or so.
The only thing wrong with this release is that the libretto is in German only. How frustrating! However, you can go into the Brilliant Classics website, find their Martha image, click on it, then download the booklet, which has both complete German and English texts, although not side-by-side.