WGBH Radio WGBH Radio theclassicalstation.org

Wagner: Die Meistersinger / Wilhelm Furtwängler

Release Date: 11/30/2004 
Label:  Music & Arts Programs Of America Catalog #: 1153   Spars Code: AAD 
Composer:  Richard Wagner
Performer:  Fritz KrennCamilla KallabJosef GreindlHelmut Fehn,   ... 
Conductor:  Wilhelm Furtwängler
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bayreuth Festival OrchestraBayreuth Festival ChorusBerlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Number of Discs: 4 
Recorded in: Mono 
Length: 4 Hours 57 Mins. 

This title is currently unavailable.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

This 1943 Bayreuth Meistersinger is almost as famous for what it is not as for what it is. What it is not, sadly, is complete. The first scene of the opera and the third-act quintet are missing—thus irretrievably damaging the closest thing we have to a complete performance of Wagner’s comic masterpiece under the baton of one of the 20th century’s greatest Wagnerian conductors. The performance has been released a number of times before, by EMI on LP, and on CD by Dante Lys, Foyer, Laudis, and even an earlier Music & Arts issue. I would have to say, though, that while none of the missing music has been found, the sound on this new M&A release is far superior to all prior versions. It has clarity and impact missing from every edition Read more I’ve encountered until now.

This can not be recommended for anyone other than the Furtwängler collector. Not only is important music missing, but the singing is unfortunately uneven. Lorenz’s Walther is throaty and uncertain of pitch, with absolutely no juice in the tone, and Prohaska’s Sachs is dramatically colorless and vocally hollow. His sound lacks weight, his presence lacks gravitas—an essential quality for a Sachs. With one exception, the remaining cast members are at best barely adequate and frequently below even that standard (particularly Fuchs’s Beckmesser, which sounds vocally distressed). The exception is Maria Müller’s brilliant Eva—gleaming of tone, tender and warm, feminine with strength. Here is a major operatic portrayal.

It is for her and especially for Furtwängler that this performance retains a claim on our interest. The music breathes with a remarkably natural ebb and flow, phrases flow one into the next without a seam, and instrumental details are clarified without ever becoming fussy. The dramatic impulse is strong throughout. Those who think of Furtwängler as a conductor afflicted with too much musical weight will be surprised at the fleetness and the impulsive spontaneity of this performance.

The orchestral excerpts that fill out the fourth disc are all live performances with the Berlin Philharmonic. The 1949 Prelude to Die Meistersinger is the greatest surviving example of this conductor in this music. This performance has everything, and we are caught up completely in the music’s momentum. The wartime Tristan excerpts are ablaze with passion. If the Berlin Philharmonic loses some of its concentration in the Parsifal excerpt, they can be forgiven. From April 18th through April 25th of 1951, they played 10 concerts in eight days in Cairo and Alexandria. This particular performance was from the last of those 10 concerts, and the second concert on the same day! I have always found Furtwängler’s 1938 studio recording of the “Good Friday Music” for HMV to be a far superior performance (best transferred on Naxos 8.110879).

Music & Arts has, as has been their practice, drawn its notes from John Ardoin’s superb The Furtwängler Record, and they are a fascinating accompaniment to the performance. No libretto is included, of course. But let me end with praise once again for this superb transfer—the work of Ed Wilkinson. It brings this performance vividly to life.

Henry Fogel, FANFARE
Read less

Works on This Recording

Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg by Richard Wagner
Performer:  Fritz Krenn (Baritone), Camilla Kallab (Mezzo Soprano), Josef Greindl (Bass),
Helmut Fehn (Bass), Eugen Fuchs (Baritone), Gerhard Witting (Tenor),
Erich Pina (Baritone), Karl Krollmann (Bass), Herbert Gosebruch (Bass),
Franz Sauer (Bass), Erich Zimmermann (Tenor), Maria Müller (Soprano),
Jaro Prohaska (Bass), Max Lorenz (Tenor), Benno Arnold (Tenor),
Alfred Dome (Bass), Gustav Rödin (Tenor)
Conductor:  Wilhelm Furtwängler
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bayreuth Festival Orchestra,  Bayreuth Festival Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1862-1867; Germany 
Venue:  Live  Festespielhaus, Bayreuth, Germany 
Language: German 
Notes: Festespielhaus, Bayreuth, Germany (07/15/1943 - 07/24/1943) 
Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg: Act 1 Prelude by Richard Wagner
Conductor:  Wilhelm Furtwängler
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1867; Germany 
Date of Recording: 02/19/1949 
Parsifal: Good Friday Music by Richard Wagner
Conductor:  Wilhelm Furtwängler
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1877-1882; Germany 
Date of Recording: 04/25/1951 
Götterdämmerung: Siegfried's Funeral Music by Richard Wagner
Conductor:  Wilhelm Furtwängler
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1874; Germany 
Date of Recording: 02/19/2004 
Tristan und Isolde: Prelude and Liebestod by Richard Wagner
Conductor:  Wilhelm Furtwängler
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1859; Germany 
Date of Recording: 11/08/1942 

Customer Reviews

Be the first to review this title
Review This Title