Notes and Editorial Reviews
Warmth and vitality [is] conveyed in Act I’s atmospheric opening to the Alpine scene with its haunting, echoed dialogue between horn and woodwind. Strong energy and drive distinguishes the duet of Hänsel and Gretel, ‘Suse, liebe Suse, was raschelt im Stroh?. In places, Solti hides unintended legato and accentuates choppy rhythms likely to appeal to the young ears for whom the music was presumably intended by the composer. The ‘Cuckoo’ number, ‘Ein Männlein steht im Walde’, with its multiplex of echoes by different orchestral sections is very effectively handled.
This set has a strong cast of principals who need no introduction. The director and producer have a dilemma as to whether the singing of the young
innocents, Hänsel and Gretel, should be carried out by experienced professionals or fresh, less mature voices. Despite the enormity of these roles, trebles would have been more appropriate for characters barely in their teens: it would not have been too difficult to find competent songsters to fill the roles, especially when the Vienna Boys’ Choir sing in this recording. Brigitte Fassbaender’s Hänsel and Lucia Popp’s Gretel are sung with passion and they delight with their breezy uplifting legato; yet a mature vibrato hides their intended juvenility. I find Edita Gruberova’s Dew Fairy rather brittle at her register’s top notes, yet her control of diminuendos is excellent. Anny Schlemm’s Witch is effectively twisted and cackly though she seems occasionally and presumably unintentionally to drop at the end of notes. Walter Berry provides a rich and resonant bass while Norma Burrows lulla-balletic Sandman sings magnificently in this minor part.
The recording is excellently balanced yet there is a treble drop on the gingerbread children’s chorus giving them a mellow tone that masks their youthful harmonics.
-- Raymond J. Walker, MusicWeb International
Works on This Recording
Hänsel und Gretel by Engelbert Humperdinck
Brigitte Fassbaender (Mezzo Soprano),
Lucia Popp (Soprano),
Walter Berry (Bass Baritone),
Julia Hamari (Mezzo Soprano),
Anny Schlemm (Soprano),
Norma Burrowes (Soprano),
Edita Gruberova (Soprano)
Sir Georg Solti
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,
Vienna Boys' Choir Soloists
Written: 1893; Germany
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