Posted by Martin Walker on December 5, 2011, 10:10 am
Thank you, Mr. Sheppard, for an interesting and helpful review of this DVD, which I shall not be purchasing. Manfred is one of my favourite romantic works. In my experience, though, it "works" best in its German version. The Beecham recording is musically admirable, with the fascinating additions you mention, but the production of the spoken play is almost unlistenable to. It has all the aesthetic conviction of a Victorian antimacassar, especially the performance by the actor speaking Manfred. The best recording I know was made in 1952 by Carl Schuricht with the superb and intense Peter Lühr speaking the all-important part of Manfred - of course, it is in German, but anyone can read the Byron original in a book or online before listening. The sound recording is good radio quality for 1952 - the later recordings by Kubelik and Schönwandt (in German) are better only in that respect: neither the musical nor the spoken performances can compete with the Schuricht, in my opinion. This can easily be found, which is more than can be said of those later recordings. It is mighty strange that there are not more recordings of the English version. One can only hope the next DVD is not such a disaster.