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Wagner: Die Meistersinger / Rafael Kubelik

Release Date: 12/30/2003 
Label:  Arts Music   Catalog #: 43020   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Richard Wagner
Performer:  Dieter SlembeckGundula JanowitzSándor KónyaThomas Stewart,   ... 
Conductor:  Rafael Kubelik
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bavarian Radio Symphony OrchestraBavarian Radio Chorus
Number of Discs: 4 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 4 Hours 32 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Jed Distler lauded this performance on its first reissue [see below] on Myto (it was originally released on Calig before that label vanished). I have nothing to add to his agreement with the general view of this as the finest Meistersinger available. Hearing it again, now that it has found an "official" home, only confirms Kubelik's claim to be one of the great Wagner conductors--and how lucky we are to have this performance, his extraordinary Parsifal on this same label, and his fine DG Lohengrin as well. The music flows effortlessly with superb clarity and with that amazingly flexible long line that remains the hallmark of accomplished podium work in Wagner. Combined with uniformly fine singing, the result is a performance that Read more cheats the clock as do few other recordings. The libretto is German only, but at least you get one. Don't miss this incomparable musical event.

--David Hurwitz

original review from Jed Distler:
Contractual problems prevented Rafael Kubelik's 1967 Bavarian Radio recording of Wagner's Die Meistersinger from being released until its appearance on the Calig label several years back. Here it is again, on the Italian independent label Myto. If there's a better Meistersinger on record, I've yet to hear it. The Kubelik Meistersinger exudes wonderfulness on every level. Let's start with the orchestra. Under Kubelik's magic hands, the Bavarian Radio Symphony reveals Wagner's orchestration to more vivacious, differentiated, and characterful effect than its high-tech, big-name counterparts (yes, I mean Solti/Chicago Symphony and Karajan/Dresden Staatskapelle). Just listen to the poignant oboe and clarinet commentaries as they sync up in glorious chamber-like accord with the string turns throughout Sachs' "Fleder" monologue in Act 2, or the perfectly paced transitions that make Act 3 seem much shorter than it is.

The exceptional cast proves every inch worthy of its genius accompaniment. Gundula Janowitz's Eva, for instance, radiates lightness and joy with a voice as supple as a redbird, and she's got a great supporting partner in her Magdelene, played by the young Brigitte Fassbaender. Thomas Stewart's warm, focused sonority and compassionate mind-set, along with his rock-solid, unfussy musicianship add up to one of the most satisfying portrayals of Hans Sachs on disc. Then there's Sándor Konya's dryish yet totally committed Walther, who blooms best in Act 3's "Prize Song". It's nice to encounter a lighter-voiced and more earnest Beckmesser than the overtly comedic assumptions we sometimes hear: in other words Thomas Hemsley approaches this role more as Leo Bloom than Max Bialystock... My only quibble concerns the German-only libretto. If you can transcend the skimpy packaging, you'll be rewarded a thousand times over with a Meistersinger for the ages.

--Jed Distler, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg by Richard Wagner
Performer:  Dieter Slembeck (Bass), Gundula Janowitz (Soprano), Sándor Kónya (Tenor),
Thomas Stewart (Bass), Brigitte Fassbaender (Mezzo Soprano), Gerhard Unger (Bass),
Thomas Hemsley (Bass), Franz Crass (Bass), Kieth Engen (Bass),
Horst Wilhelm (Tenor), Richard Kogel (Bass), Manfred Schmidt (Tenor),
Friedrich Lenz (Tenor), Raimund Grumbach (Bass), Peter Baillie (Tenor),
Anton Diakov (Bass), Karl [bass baritone] Kohn (Bass)
Conductor:  Rafael Kubelik
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Bavarian Radio Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1862-1867; Germany 
Date of Recording: 10/1967 
Venue:  Hercules Hall, Residenz, Munich, Germany 
Language: German 

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