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Wagner: Die Meistersinger Von Nurnberg / Janowksi, Dohmen, Henschel, Breedt, Sonn

Wagner / Rundfunk-sinfonieorchester Und Chor
Release Date: 11/15/2011 
Label:  Pentatone   Catalog #: 5186402   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Richard Wagner
Performer:  Robert Dean SmithEdith HallerAlberto DohmenDietrich Henschel,   ... 
Conductor:  Marek Janowski
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Radio Symphony OrchestraBerlin Radio Chorus
Number of Discs: 4 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  
SuperAudio CD:  $58.99
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This is a hybrid Super Audio CD playable on both regular and Super Audio CD players.
WAGNER Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg Marek Janowski, cond; Albert Dohmen ( Sachs ); Robert Dean Smith ( Walther ); Edith Haller ( Eva ); Georg Zeppenfeld ( Read more class="ARIAL12i">Pogner ); Dietrich Henschel ( Beckmesser ); Matti Salminen ( Night Watchman ); Berlin R Ch & O PENTATONE PTC5186 402 (4 SACDs: 253:07 Text and Translation) Live: Berlin 6/3/2011

What a magnificent release this is! For the second installment of PentaTone’s SACD traversal of Richard Wagner’s 10 mature operas—the series will be completed by the end of 2013, the composer’s 200th birthday year—a stellar cast has been assembled. It’s as if this is a project that the best current Wagner singers don’t want to miss out on. Matti Salminen in the tiny walk-on role of the Night Watchman? Now that’s luxuriant casting!

One of the many delights of this Meistersinger, a recording of a single concert performance in June of 2011, is how age-appropriate everyone sounds. At one level, this opera is about intergenerational conflict, so the fact that the four key young characters—Walther, Eva, David, and Magdalene—actually sound young is a real strength. There is less of a supply crisis with Walthers than with Siegfrieds and Tristans, as the role will accommodate a larger variety of vocal types. (The light-voiced Klaus Florian Vogt, for example, manages the part quite well.) Robert Dean Smith, Bayreuth’s current Tristan, is a true Heldentenor and he’s got the power to be (mostly) heard over the chaos at the close of act I. Smith is also a nuanced singer and he begins the final iteration of the Prize Song almost tentatively, as if he’s still a little unsure of himself; he then seems to gain in confidence, concluding triumphantly. Edith Kaller, the Eva, is sparklingly fresh-voiced, while Michele Breedt sounds just a little more mature—she’s old enough to be chaperoning Pogner’s daughter but young enough to empathize with her romantic situation. Peter Sonn is a singer new to me, and he’s an outstanding David. He comes across as knowledgeable and respectful of the ins and outs of song creation in his lengthy exposition on the subject in act I and has sure lyrical instincts. One suspects that he, too, will be welcomed to the ranks of the Mastersingers one day.

A Meistersinger, of course, rises or falls on the merits of its Sachs, and Albert Dohman, the Wotan/Wanderer for Christian Thielemann’s superb Ring cycle on Opus Arte and the Dutchman for the first opera in PentaTone’s series, has a voice with an appealing texture that wears well. Dohman’s a true bass- baritone and there’s a satisfying mass to his instrument at the bottom of its range. “Wahn, Wahn” is a spontaneous outpouring of a profoundly thoughtful man; we are left with the feeling that, as a friend of mine always says about the best Sachses, this is a man you want to bring home to dinner with the family.

If Dietrich Henschel’s Beckmesser isn’t exceptional in the scene-stealing fashion of a Hermann Prey or Thomas Allen, he is vocally and dramatically secure. The town clerk’s rendition of the purloined Prize Song comes across as especially perverse, a lurid, expressionistic essay that could have come from decadent 1920s Berlin. Georg Zeppenfeld sounds solid and decent but still vigorous as Pogner. He’s an upholder of tradition, a conservative force, but we can understand why he and Sachs like and respect each other. The other Masters are all up to the more modest demands of their parts.

Marek Janowski really keeps things moving along without rushing. With a total playing time of just under four and a quarter hours, this Meistersinger is faster than any of the other 10 versions on hand (with the exception of a 1970 performance led by Leopold Ludwig and starring Giorgio Tozzi, which has some substantial cuts in the last act.) Janowski knows when to slow things down, as with the scene between Eva and Pogner at the start of act II that is delivered with heartwarming tenderness. The brass chorale in the act III Prelude is so beautiful that it requires serious restraint not to immediately repeat it.

PentaTone’s sound is demonstration-quality, as they are fond of saying in audiophile circles. The multichannel option provides exceptional dimensionality and specific placement of singers on the concert platform, which is very occasionally a disadvantage. (I wish Beckmesser and Sachs were closer to one another for their hilarious scene together in act II.) The “auf dem Theater” trumpets announcing the final scene suddenly remind us that we’re in the large space of the Berlin Philharmonie. PentaTone’s packaging, in a hardbound book, is exquisite. We get the libretto in German and English, plus a penetrating essay from Steffan Georgi (in three languages.) And don’t forget to hang onto the voucher that comes with the set: you’ll get Götterdämmerung at half-price, or a “special CD collection box” for nine of them when the series finishes up next year.

FANFARE: Andrew Quint
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Works on This Recording

Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg by Richard Wagner
Performer:  Robert Dean Smith (Tenor), Edith Haller (Soprano), Alberto Dohmen (Baritone),
Dietrich Henschel (Baritone), Michelle Breedt (Mezzo Soprano), Georg Zeppenfeld (Bass)
Conductor:  Marek Janowski
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Berlin Radio Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1862-1867; Germany 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 Disappointing to me.............. February 1, 2012 By Peter Rossetti (Lakewood, CA) See All My Reviews "1. For an audiophile cd the sound is surprisingly thin.
2. Janowski goes for a chamber like approach and I like it grander.
3. He uses faster tempi than I like.
4. Sachs is sung very well,maybe the best of all recordings, I just feel his final monologue is slightly too fast.
5. Walther is very good, not as good as Hepner, but good.

6. THIS IS THE WORST packaging of any cd you could buy. The cds are in cardboard sleeves attached to the front cover, and the huge, beautiful booklet is GLUED TO THE BINDING. so it peels off when you decide to look at it. UNBELIEVABLE!!!

If you want a light fairly quick and lively Meistersinger that's well sung here it is.
But remember, the booklet WILL fall out.


couldn't decide 3 or 4 stars. 4 for a good Sachs for a change, I guess.

i've heard all the stereo Meisters out there and my top 3 are 1. Solti's first with Norman Bailey as Sach's, 2 and 3 are tied between Barenboim and Jochum. Barenboim has a good Sachs and great sound, Jochum has great conducting and a gorgeous sounding Domingo.

All the others have miscast,thin voiced,gruff Sachs imho

Kubelik-rude,crude tempi and gruff Sachs and recording.
Solti 2 and Sawallisch thin voiced Sachs.
Karajan-terrible Sachs and Walther not much better. "
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