Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Richard [Classical] Wagner, Wilhelm Furtwängler, Bayreuth Festival Orchestra & Chorus|
Wagner: Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
Listen to Samples
A Great Historical Document
Paul A. Dunphy | Bogota, New Jersey USA | 06/24/2002
(3 out of 5 stars)
"The main plus of this recording is Wilhelm Furtwangler's conducting of Wagner's delightful comedy. It is also a good example of the way Wagner was performed 50 years ago; The cast is representative of Bayreuth at that era and, unfortunately, they make for some heavy going. Jaro Prohaska, a successor of Friedrich Schorr in the role of Hans Sachs, misses the humanity of this wonderful character and his singing is unfocused and muddy. Maria Muller is a sweet Eva but misses some of the spunk that makes her willing to elope with Walther rather than be a "prize" for a contest. Max Lorenz muscles his way through Walther's music eschewing any subtlety or lyricism. It is interesting to hear the young Josef Greindl as Pogner.
The sound is quite good considering the age of the recording.
Be warned, however: There are two large cuts in the score - In Act One we cut from the opening chorus to the middle of David's instructions to Walther and in Act Three the Quintet is deleted and we pass from Magdalene's entrance to the opening of the final scene.
If you're interested in historical recordings, go for it. If you want a recording of Meistersinger in it's entirety, look for a more recent one."
Furtwangler's immensely human interpretation
Kostas Sarantidis | Portland, ME United States | 03/21/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Furtwangler was the greatest Wagner conductor of this century - and this legendary Bayreuth performance from the Nazi era has been preserved for the ages in poor but listenable sound. However, it needs to be said that the recording is not complete. Because of some technical failure, two chunks were not preserved: the meeting of Walther and Eva in church in Act 1 and, far more regrettably, the great scene in Sach's home in Act 3 leading up to and including the Quintet! The reviewer from Surrey, BC, mentions the Quintet in his review. Has the Opera d'Oro release miraculously discovered what all previous releases of this performance have lacked? I would be curious to know, as I don't possess this particular release. I'm only familiar with previous releases of this performance on other labels. Anyway, Furtwangler and Maria Muller are the primary reasons for buying this performance. The pity, of course, is that the two missing chunks contain a good proportion of Eva's music, so we're cheated out of hearing all of Maria Muller's interpretation. We're left to speculate how the Quintet would have sounded with Maria Muller singing the top line and Furtwangler sustaining the heavenly length of this miraculous ensemble. There are a few delights in the rest of the cast. Contrary to what two other reviewers have written, Jaro Prohaska sings Hans Sachs, not Walther von Stolzing. Prohaska was not a great singer, but his Sachs is always engaging and he relishes in the various conversational passages - and those passages are among the most wonderful in the entire score. Walther is sung by Max Lorenz, a mixed bag of a heldentenor: a true tenor to be sure, but with a noticeable lack of discipline and basic vocal manners. The rest of the cast is not very distinguished. For great singing one must turn to the Knappertsbusch, Kempe, Karajan (1970), Jochum and Solti (Chicago) recordings. But for the warmth, passion, forward movement and sheer humanity (despite the inhuman date!) of Furtwangler's conducting this performance is irreplaceable."
5 stars for the recording; no stars for the stage production
Ray Barnes | Surrey, British Columbia Canada | 01/05/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Of all the complete historical Wagner recordings this one is arguably the most controversial, not because of any significant faults in the execution of the vocal and orchestral scores, but because this production was done during the 1943 Bayreuth Festival, and indeed the Festweise finale was turned into a piece of Nazi propoganda, with the good people of old 17th century Nurnberg waving flags with swastikas. I relate this on what I hope were accurate and truthful accounts, based on what I have read on the history of Bayreuth. It is highly probable that the composer's granddaughter Winnifred and Der Fuhrer were in attendance at this production. The Ring was also performed there either in 1943 and/or 1944, a strange precursor to the final violent downfall of the Third Reich in 1945. In spite of the fact that Richard Wagner was nowhere near a role model in character, I feel he would have considered the modifications of his stage directions in this production to be absolutely reprehensible and inexcusable. I do not criticize the performers but the people responsible for coercing them to do so.A word of defense should be made on behalf of the conductor here. For those who may not be aware, Furtwangler was appointed conductor for life of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra prior to the rise of National Socialism until his death in 1954. He was emphatically not a Nazi sympathizer. Under the circumstances I think it would have been extremely difficult to break his position and seek asylum elsewhere. Had he tried to do so it is likely his career and life would have ended well before 1943, and many of his imperishable recordings would have been lost forever. I find it difficult to criticize him - or Richard Strauss or Franz Lehar for that matter - for trying to make good music under what might be otherwise unbearable circumstances.Having said all that, notwithstanding the privations of wartime and the age of the performance itself, it is a riveting account of Wagner's great opera. The singers were chosen not only for their skill at handling their individual roles - with the possible exception of Josef Greindl - but also for the way their voices blend together during the ensembles. The Act III Quintet has never been sung better and for once one almost agrees with Wieland Wagner's regret that the opera should have been finished with that scene. The preeminent critic Alan Blyth declared in his book Opera on Record that he could not listen to this section without his eyes getting moist. I would second that motion. The choral work is distinguished too, but here one especially notices the limitations of the mono sound. This score fairly cries out for digital stereo. The orchestral playing is of high quality and Furtwangler's tempi were moderate without being overly metrical or square. With much of the long score in C major and 4/4 tempo, it is critical to bring out as much of the part writing detail as possible to avoid wearing the ear. The woodwind is particularly beautiful and brings an almost Brahmsian warmth to the heavy writing.In spite of the reservations about the history of this production, which quite justifiably would put off many potential buyers, its reissue at the lowest price range - the very opposite of prior releases - has to be welcomed. This will be an emotional experience for many listeners, for a variety of reasons."