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|Humperdinck, Te Kanawa, Von Stade|
Humperdinck - Hansel And Gretel
Genres: Special Interest, Classical
Humperdinck and conductor John Pritchard create the orchestral atmosphere to transport us into Hansel and Gretel's fairytale world. Led by a fresh-voiced and beguiling Ileana Cotrubas, this all-star cast lives up to expect... more »
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Humperdinck and conductor John Pritchard create the orchestral atmosphere to transport us into Hansel and Gretel's fairytale world. Led by a fresh-voiced and beguiling Ileana Cotrubas, this all-star cast lives up to expectations. While the soprano imbues the piece with girlish spirit, Frederica Von Stade's Hansel grounds it through her exquisite singing, realizing every musical nuance. Christa Ludwig's edgy-voiced mother is annoying--no wonder the kids run away--her intonation is sharp and she pushes the sound. Kiri Te Kanawa's well-sung Sandman is thwarted by her German diction, and Elisabeth Soderstrom's Witch is just awful--which mean's she's excellent. Cotrubas and Von Stade blend beautifully together, elevating duet singing to magnificence. --Barbara Eisner Bayer
The best stereo recording of a vastly underrated opera
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This beautifully-sung and -recorded version of the only German opera between Parsifal and Salome to hold its place in the repertory has a lot of competition. But few stereo recordings can match the glory of von Stade's singing, or the rich, full Wagnerian sound elicited by Sir John Pritchard. This opera is filled with gorgeous orchestral detail that can't always be heard in the opera house, because it can often drown out the "young" size voices frequently cast. Yet this recording manages to balance it all quite well. Ileana Cotrubas as Gretel is not as rich a sound as may be considered ideal, but she is well-recorded and rarely sounds thin or brittle. Soderstroem's Witch is an acquired taste, but she does not ruin the performance. One of the standouts of this recording is the rich and sumptuous voice of the young Kiri te Kanawa as the Sandman. This small but pivotal scene has never been recorded more beautifully than here. The children's choruses at the end are lovely, and they sound more like "real" children than in other recordings, which frequently use more academically-trained choirs. There are other good recordings of this work. Jennifer Larmore's version on Teldec is beautifully sung, but is not recorded as richly. Sir Colin Davis on Philips brings out much the same orchestral beauty, but his version simply isn't as sweetly sung. For nearly everything in balance for a performance of this opera, the Pritchard version is the one to have."
An Opera For Young And Not So Young
Timothy Kearney | Hull, MA United States | 11/29/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"HANSEL AND GRETEL is often classified as a children's opera, but opera buffs question the accuracy of such a classification. Certainly it is based on a classic children's story, and it can be staged in a way that makes it appealing to children, but there is more to it than often meets the eye. For example, the plot does not involve a wicket stepmother who forces the children away, but a stressed mother who gets angry with the children. This is a family that lives in poverty, but is bound by love. This gives the piece a certain amount of drama. The music is robust and is heavily influenced by the works of Wagner. There are themes that introduce the various characters and scenes. There are beautiful solo pieces, duets, and ensembles, and beautiful parts written for the children's chorus.This recording is excellent. It has the wonderful voices of Frederica von Stade and Ileana Cotrubas as Hansel and Gretel respectively. Christa Ludwig is the mother and Siegmund Nimsgren sings the jovial role of the father. The recording also features the voices of Kiri Te Kanawa and Ruth Welting. The female voices alone make it worthwhile. Thomas Pritchard conducts the Gurzenich Orchestra. The sound of the orchestra is lavish and the ensemble seems familiar with the work. While this ensemble does not seem to have too many recordings, the strength of the orchestra in this recording would make a listener wonder why. Though there are many wonderful historic recordings of this work from the golden age of German opera singing, this is certainly a recording that will appeal to the modern listener."