Notes and Editorial Reviews
I began by re-programming this excellent recital into a proper order rather than the nonsensical one chosen by RCA. How could they place Wagner (his items themselves out of chronology) before Beethoven and Weber and then suddenly follow Weber with Korngold? All of which cannot detract from the beauty, reliability and musicality of every item in this pot-pourri of German opera. Heppner must now be counted among the most consistent of tenors in this kind of repertory this century. Particularly welcome is his singing of Tristan's, Siegfried's and Parsifal's music: with his secure technique and sturdy frame these roles have surely found their ideal interpreter for the first decade of the coming century. Much as I dislike bleeding chunks and the way they end in mid-air, such firmly sung and intelligently phrased readings justify the practice on this occasion.
Heppner would also be an ideal interpreter, on this evidence, of Max and Adolar in the Weber operas, the lyrical and dramatic nicely held in balance. Florestan's scena is taken from the complete recording under Sir Colin Davis. Here and in one or two places, you may find the Achilles' heel in Heppner's approach: just occasionally one would like that extra frisson less well-behaved singers such as, say, Ludwig Suthaus and Jon Vickers used to bring to their singing of this kind of music, the feeling that they were living the emotions - and which Heppner himself provides in the rapturous opulence of the Korngold, a substantial bonne houche. In the items, other than the Beethoven. Heppner is admirably partnered by Runnicles, who always makes us aware of the context and, by dint of forward movement and the maintenance of line, avoids the pseudo-profundity of much Wagner conducting these days. The recording is in all respects exemplary. Highly recommended.
-- Gramophone [1/1999]