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Humperdinck: Hansel Und Gretel / Karajan, Grummer, Schwarzkopf, Metternich


Release Date: 11/09/2010 
Label:  Warner Classics   Catalog #: 40716   Spars Code: ADD 
Composer:  Engelbert HumperdinckUnspecified
Performer:  Anny FelbermayerElisabeth GrümmerMaria von IlosvayJosef Metternich,   ... 
Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia OrchestraLoughton Girls School ChorusBancroft's School Choir
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 48 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This set includes a CD-ROM containing a synopsis and libretto.

To describe Karajan's Hänsel und Gretel as the benchmark recording is almost to state the obvious. Its quality, both in terms of the performance and the recording, more than justify that status, and its perennial place in the catalogue may well explain why so few competitors have appeared in the intervening almost sixty years.

Looking at the organisations and personalities that were involved in the original recording, it is hardly surprising that something of enduring pleasure was created. You've got Schwarzkopf at the height of her powers and the Philharmonia in a period when they were easily London's hottest orchestra. Karajan's legacy
Read more of operatic recordings is not unblemished, but there is no doubt that the best of it was the result of collaborations with Walter Legge and the Philharmonia.

Like their other great triumph, the 1956 Rosenkavalier, this Hänsel und Gretel seems to have been the result of some very relaxed recording sessions. Much of these two operas was recorded in single takes, and there is a spontaneity here that live recordings today so often try, and so often fail, to emulate. Karajan had never conducted the Humperdinck before, and there is an almost childlike curiosity about the way he teases details out of the orchestral textures.

Mike Ashman, in his fascinating but brief liner-notes, opines that Karajan goes for a sound that is more Straussian than Wagnerian. He asserts that the musical focus is always on soloists in the orchestra, and on unmediated song, as opposed to aria, presentation from the singers. That's very true, but the balance between simplicity and sophistication in the singing of every major role is complex and fascinating. For example, Elisabeth Grümmer and Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, as Hansel and Gretel respectively. Each sings with child-like exuberance, and they bring endearing enthusiasm to the bird-calls and folk-songs. There is plenty of vibrato in both voices, and there is never any suggestion that either is trying to sound child-like. Else Schürhoff is great as the witch, but also very tasteful. It's a role you could ham up much more if you were going for the pantomime angle, although I'm not sure Karajan would have approved.

Much has been made over the years of the high quality of the recorded sound. If you didn't know, you would be unlikely to guess that the recording was made in 1953 … and in mono. The singers are extremely well served by the engineers, as are most of the orchestral soloists. The tuttis often seem a little distant and muted, but there is a surprising clarity to all the orchestral textures. And what fabulous orchestral playing! There is real character to all of the wind and brass solos, and the ensemble in the strings is first rate.

This reissue is not the only one on the market, nor is it the cheapest. EMI no longer have exclusive rights to the recording, meaning that anybody with access to the masters can issue it. There is a very reasonably priced version on Naxos, who have their own re-mastering team, so you can expect some slight differences in audio presentation. EMI, for their part, have come up with an interesting extra, the libretto as a pdf on a supplementary CD. Whether or not that will appease the many opera fans who regularly bemoan the lack of librettos in budget opera sets I can't say, but it is a nice touch. If you are already in front of a computer, finding the libretto on the internet is hardly difficult. Also, given the unused space on the CD, there would surely be room here to include the score as a pdf, and at no further expense considering that it too is out of copyright.

A modern makeover, then, for an old favourite. EMI are at something of a turning point in their history just now, and if reissues like this can help to keep the company afloat, then they are certainly to be welcomed. The record industry has changed beyond all recognition since 1953, making the continual appearance of this recording in the catalogues one of its few enduring certainties. No doubt, EMI will continue to reissue it in various forms for as long as the company exists. If this did end up being their last version of it, then they've certainly done the recording justice with some handsome packaging. There is no doubt that it will continue to appear again and again as the years go by. The only question is, how long will the red square logo continue to appear in the top right-hand corner?

-- Gavin Dixon, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

1.
Hänsel und Gretel by Engelbert Humperdinck
Performer:  Anny Felbermayer (Soprano), Elisabeth Grümmer (Soprano), Maria von Ilosvay (Alto),
Josef Metternich (Baritone), Elisabeth Schwarzkopf (Soprano), Else Schürhoff (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Loughton Girls School Chorus,  Bancroft's School Choir
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1893; Germany 
Venue:  Kingsway Hall, London 
Length: 71 Minutes 32 Secs. 

Sound Samples

Humperdinck: Hänsel und Gretel: Prelude: Hänsel und Gretel: Prelude
Hänsel und Gretel (1999 - Remaster), Act I, Scene 1: Suse, liebe Suse, was raschelt im Stroh? (Gretel/Hänsel): Hänsel und Gretel (1999 Remastered Version), Act I, Scene 1: Suse, liebe Suse, was raschelt im Stroh? (Gretel/Hänsel)
Hänsel und Gretel (1999 - Remaster), Act I, Scene 1: So recht! und willst du nun nicht mehr klagen (Gretel/Hänsel): Hänsel und Gretel (1999 Remastered Version), Act I, Scene 1: So recht! und willst du nun nicht mehr klagen (Gretel/Hänsel)
Hänsel und Gretel (1999 - Remaster), Act I, Scene 1: Brüderchen, komm tanz' mit mir - Tanzduett (Gretel/Hänsel): Hänsel und Gretel (1999 Remastered Version), Act I, Scene 1: Brüderchen, komm tanz' mit mir - Tanzduett (Gretel/Hänsel)
Hänsel und Gretel (1999 - Remaster), Act I, Scene 2: Holla! ... Himmel! Die Mutter! (Mutter/Hänsel/Gretel): Hänsel und Gretel (1999 Remastered Version), Act I, Scene 2: Holla! ... Himmel! Die Mutter! (Mutter/Hänsel/Gretel)
Hänsel und Gretel (1999 - Remaster), Act I, Scene 2: Marsch! Fort in den Wald! (Mutter): Hänsel und Gretel (1999 Remastered Version), Act I, Scene 2: Marsch! Fort in den Wald! (Mutter)
Humperdinck: Hänsel und Gretel, Act 1: "Ral la la la, ral la la la, Heissa Mutter, ich bin da!" (Vater): Hänsel und Gretel, Act 1: "Ral la la la, ral la la la, Heissa Mutter, ich bin da!" (Vater)
Hänsel und Gretel (1999 - Remaster), Act I, Scene 3: Ho ho! Wer spek-spektakelt mir da im Haus... (Mutter/Vater): Hänsel und Gretel (1999 Remastered Version), Act I, Scene 3: Ho ho! Wer spek-spektakelt mir da im Haus... (Mutter/Vater)
Hänsel und Gretel (1999 - Remaster), Act I, Scene 3: Doch halt, wo bleiben die Kinder? (Mutter/Vater): Hänsel und Gretel (1999 Remastered Version), Act I, Scene 3: Doch halt, wo bleiben die Kinder? (Mutter/Vater)
Hänsel und Gretel (1999 - Remaster), Act I, Scene 3: Wenn sie sich verirrten im Walde dort (Mutter/Vater): Hänsel und Gretel (1999 Remastered Version), Act I, Scene 3: Wenn sie sich verirrten im Walde dort (Mutter/Vater)
Hänsel und Gretel (1999 - Remaster), Act I, Scene 3: Eine Hex', steinalt haust tief im Wald (Mutter/Vater): Hänsel und Gretel (1999 Remastered Version), Act I, Scene 3: Eine Hex', steinalt haust tief im Wald (Mutter/Vater)
Hänsel und Gretel (1999 - Remaster), Act I, Scene 3: Vorspiel - Der Hexenritt: Hänsel und Gretel (1999 Remastered Version), Act I, Scene 3: Vorspiel - Der Hexenritt
Hänsel und Gretel (1999 - Remaster), Act II, Scene 1: Ein Männlein steht im Walde (Gretel/Hänsel): Hänsel und Gretel (1999 Remastered Version), Act II, Scene 1: Ein Männlein steht im Walde (Gretel/Hänsel)
Hänsel und Gretel (1999 - Remaster), Act II, Scene 1: Mein Erbelkörbchen ist voll bis oben! (Gretel/Hänsel): Hänsel und Gretel (1999 Remastered Version), Act II, Scene 1: Mein Erbelkörbchen ist voll bis oben! (Gretel/Hänsel)
Hänsel und Gretel (1999 - Remaster), Act II, Scene 1: Gretel, ich weiss nicht den Weg nicht mehr! (Hänsel/Gretel/Echo): Hänsel und Gretel (1999 Remastered Version), Act II, Scene 1: Gretel, ich weiss nicht den Weg nicht mehr! (Hänsel/Gretel/Echo)
Hänsel und Gretel (1999 - Remaster), Act II, Scene 2: Der kleine Sandman bin ich,st! - Lied des Sandmanns (Sandmann/Hänsel/Gretel): Hänsel und Gretel (1999 Remastered Version), Act II, Scene 2: Der kleine Sandman bin ich,st! - Lied des Sandmanns (Sandmann/Hänsel/Gretel)
Humperdinck: Hänsel und Gretel, Act 2: "Abends, will ich schlafen gehn" (Hänsel, Gretel): Hänsel und Gretel, Act 2: "Abends, will ich schlafen gehn" (Hänsel, Gretel)
Hänsel und Gretel (1999 - Remaster), Act II, Scene 3: Traumpantomime/Dream Pantomime/Pantomime de rêve (Orchester): Hänsel und Gretel (1999 Remastered Version), Act II, Scene 3: Traumpantomime/Dream Pantomime/Pantomime de rêve (Orchester)
Hänsel und Gretel (1999 - Remaster), Act II, Scene 3: Vorspiel (Orchester): Hänsel und Gretel (1999 Remastered Version), Act II, Scene 3: Vorspiel (Orchester)
Hänsel und Gretel (1999 - Remaster), Act III, Scene 1: Der kleine Taumann heiss'ich (Taumann): Hänsel und Gretel (1999 Remastered Version), Act III, Scene 1: Der kleine Taumann heiss'ich (Taumann)
Hänsel und Gretel (1999 - Remaster), Act III, Scene 1: Wo bin ich? Wach'ich? (Gretel/Hänsel): Hänsel und Gretel (1999 Remastered Version), Act III, Scene 1: Wo bin ich? Wach'ich? (Gretel/Hänsel)
Hänsel und Gretel (1999 - Remaster), Act III, Scene 2: Bleib' stehn! (Gretel/Hänsel): Hänsel und Gretel (1999 Remastered Version), Act III, Scene 2: Bleib' stehn! (Gretel/Hänsel)
Hänsel und Gretel (1999 - Remaster), Act III, Scene 2: Wie duftet's von dorten (Gretel/Hänsel): Hänsel und Gretel (1999 Remastered Version), Act III, Scene 2: Wie duftet's von dorten (Gretel/Hänsel)
Hänsel und Gretel (1999 - Remaster), Act III, Scene 3: Knusper knusper Knäuschen (Stimme aus dem Haus/Hänsel/Gretel/Kinder): Hänsel und Gretel (1999 Remastered Version), Act III, Scene 3: Knusper knusper Knäuschen (Stimme aus dem Haus/Hänsel/Gretel/Kinder)
Hänsel und Gretel (1999 - Remaster), Act III, Scene 3: Ich bin Rosina Leckermaul (Hexe/Hänsel/Gretel): Hänsel und Gretel (1999 Remastered Version), Act III, Scene 3: Ich bin Rosina Leckermaul (Hexe/Hänsel/Gretel)
Hänsel und Gretel (1999 - Remaster), Act III, Scene 3: Halt! Hokus pokus, Hexenschuss! - Fluch der Hexe (Hexe): Hänsel und Gretel (1999 Remastered Version), Act III, Scene 3: Halt! Hokus pokus, Hexenschuss! - Fluch der Hexe (Hexe)
Hänsel und Gretel (1999 - Remaster), Act III, Scene 3: Nun Gretel, sei vernünftig und nett (Hexe/Gretel/Hänsel): Hänsel und Gretel (1999 Remastered Version), Act III, Scene 3: Nun Gretel, sei vernünftig und nett (Hexe/Gretel/Hänsel)
Hänsel und Gretel (1999 - Remaster), Act III, Scene 3: Hurr hopp hopp hopp (Hexe): Hänsel und Gretel (1999 Remastered Version), Act III, Scene 3: Hurr hopp hopp hopp (Hexe)
Hänsel und Gretel (1999 - Remaster), Act III, Scene 3: Auf' wach' auf, mein Jüngelchen (Hexe/Gretel/Hänsel): Hänsel und Gretel (1999 Remastered Version), Act III, Scene 3: Auf' wach' auf, mein Jüngelchen (Hexe/Gretel/Hänsel)
Hänsel und Gretel (1999 - Remaster), Act III, Scene 3: Juchhei! Nun ist die Hexe tot - Knusperwalzer (Hänsel/Gretel): Hänsel und Gretel (1999 Remastered Version), Act III, Scene 3: Juchhei! Nun ist die Hexe tot - Knusperwalzer (Hänsel/Gretel)
Hänsel und Gretel (1999 - Remaster), Act III, Scene 4: Erlöst, befreit, für alle Zeit! (Kinder/Gretel/Hänsel/Vater): Hänsel und Gretel (1999 Remastered Version), Act III, Scene 4: Erlöst, befreit, für alle Zeit! (Kinder/Gretel/Hänsel/Vater)
Hänsel und Gretel (1999 - Remaster), Act III, Final Scene: Vater! Mutter! (Hänsel/Gretel/Mutter/Vater/Alle): Hänsel und Gretel (1999 Remastered Version), Act III, Final Scene: Vater! Mutter! (Hänsel/Gretel/Mutter/Vater/Alle)

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