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Wagner: Overtures / Knappertsbusch, Vienna Philharmonic


Release Date: 09/03/2010 
Label:  Decca   Catalog #: 440062  
Composer:  Richard Wagner
Performer:  Franz Lechleitner
Conductor:  Hans Knappertsbusch
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Mono 
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This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

...In my teenage years, though, I may not have been so responsive to Hans Knappertsbusch’s patient unfolding of these scores. Indeed, a little later, I remember how dismayed we students were when, following our complaints that the university library copy of "Parsifal" was worn out (what we really wanted was to hear it played faster), the librarian, bound by economics, simply bought a new copy of "Hans-dead-slow-Knappertsbusch", 1951.

Tempi are slow, certainly; the Valkyries do not whip and goad their steeds, they soar majestically above a sea of detail, the rhythmic propulsion coming from within the music, not applied from without. Rienzi has dignity and nobility wherever the tawdry music allows (the
Read more introduction, obviously, but a surprising amount of the rest); Senta sings dolefully but the Dutchman’s vessel is soon riding out a surging seascape. Slow, then, but never heavy. The pilgrims at the start of Tannhäuser have joy as well as dignity to their step and the Venusberg music packs a great punch.

About the Siegfried "Forest Murmurs" I am not so sure. After so much orchestral music Lechtleitner’s rather voice, reedy in piano and barking in forte, was an unpleasant intrusion and he is recorded far to close. Surely Siegfried himself should be murmuring against the variegated orchestral backdrop, and this is only possible when he is on stage, behind the orchestra, not up front, obscuring it, as here. Since this passage can now be heard in the context of Knappertsbusch’s Bayreuth "Ring", only completists will want this.

The spell having been broken, I found the Parsifal prelude too slow, the phrases just sitting side by side. In the theatre it no doubt came off – the official Bayreuth Parsifals under Knappertsbusch from 1951 and 1962 are legendary and at least four other performances are available from various sources. Here we are reminded, for the first time on this CD, that Knappertsbusch didn’t always find it easy to warm up in the studio. Still, [Ride of the Valkyries, and the Rienzi, Der Fliegende Holländer, and Tannhäuser Overtures] more than justify purchase, for they overwhelmingly reflect the genius of the composer...

Grouches? Well, I have to say that, in the cases where I have an alternative performance under Furtwängler, it does seem to be a tad more overwhelming still. Without hustling the music, Furtwängler often manages to take to the air while Knappertsbusch keeps his feet firmly, if splendidly, on the ground. How spoilt for choice people were in those days!...

-- Christopher Howell, MusicWeb International [reviewing these performances reissued as Archipel 0332]
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Works on This Recording

1. Tannhäuser: Overture and Venusberg Music by Richard Wagner
Conductor:  Hans Knappertsbusch
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1845/1861; Germany 
Date of Recording: 05/1953 
2. Der fliegende Holländer: Overture by Richard Wagner
Conductor:  Hans Knappertsbusch
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1841/1852; Germany 
Date of Recording: 05/1953 
3. Die Walküre: Ride of the Valkyries by Richard Wagner
Conductor:  Hans Knappertsbusch
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1856; Germany 
Date of Recording: 05/1953 
4. Parsifal: Act 1 Prelude by Richard Wagner
Conductor:  Hans Knappertsbusch
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1877-1882; Germany 
Date of Recording: 06/24/1950 
5. Siegfried: Aber, wie sah meine Mutter... "Forest Murmurs" by Richard Wagner
Performer:  Franz Lechleitner (Tenor)
Conductor:  Hans Knappertsbusch
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1871; Germany 
Date of Recording: 06/24/1950 
6. Rienzi: Overture by Richard Wagner
Conductor:  Hans Knappertsbusch
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1840-1843; Germany 
Date of Recording: 06/24/1950 

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