The Spoleto Festival Orchestra; Julius Rudel, conductor
world premiere recording; recorded on June 10, 1999 at the Sottile Theatre in Charleston, South Carolina at Spoleto Festival USA; original recording: Musical Heritage Society 569762Z (3 compact discs)
This is a reissue with a revised album cover: EMI Classics 7243 5 56976 2 (3 compact discs)
"Artistic Quality: 10. Sound Quality: 8. It’s amazing that we’ve had to wait this long for a recording of Kurt Weill’s operatic masterpiece “Die Bürgschaft” (“The Covenant”). Anyone who enjoys “The Seven Deadly Sins” or the Second Symphony will not need to read another word before grabbing this important release. Although not a Brecht collaboration (Weill wanted to focus on musical values more than his erstwhile partner felt tolerable), the plot might have come straight from the famous poet’s Communist heart. A tale of greed and betrayal of friendship set during a (highly topical) totalitarian takeover of an otherwise bucolic community, the almost totally immoral behavior of many of the principal characters finds a perfect emotional counterpoint in Weill’s bitter, sardonic, always poignant and somehow compassionate music. Recorded at the drop of a hat during the 1999 Spoleto Festival, this performance sports excellent teamwork from an ensemble cast with no weak links, though none are “big names,” and lively conducting from Julius Rudel. Recorded sound is a little boxy, but Weill fans won’t care. I didn’t. The bleakness of the plot aside, this opera’s total neglect is as inexplicable as the music itself is masterly. "
"Except for a few performances in Brno in 1935 and a few radio performances, “Die Bürgschaft” slumbered in obscurity until its revival at the Spoleto Festival in South Carolina in 1999. It was from that production that the CD is taken, and it represents the very first recording of a largely ignored but pivotal work from Weill's amazing career…it certainly fills a void in the recorded legacy of a great composer, and it should inspire future productions of the work."