This recording of a live performance of MEISTERSINGER from Bayreuth 1957 definitely merits five stars. For those of you who don't already know this, Gustav Neidlinger (PeaceBeUponHim) was the undisputed master of Wagner's "howling-and-spitting" villain roles, Alberich and Klingsor, from the early 1950s until the mid 1970s. He sang with unmatched sulfur, cannon-ball density, huge volume, dark tone, and powerful dramatic interpretation. He sang more spontaneously and from-the-gut than most singers. He was the first of his generation to sing these roles with musical line and connected legato, rather than as a series of isolated shouts, grunts, and bellowings. He was typecast for these villainous roles as soon as he set foot on the stage, and almost never performed as a good-guy.
Esoteric have produced a remarkable transfer that preserves beautifully the hall sound, spatial information and detail. The brass and mass strings have excellent detail, revealing a lot of subtle harmonies and variation – a boon for anything Wagner. This contributes to an overall impression of sophistication and restraint and goes perfectly with Karajan's Wagner.
"…Janowski's pacing and preparation of the orchestra is masterly. Reacting with sensitivity to the score, the tender & reflective scenes are given space to breathe without taxing the singers into strained tone. (…) The more one hears, the more one appreciates the vocal acting as well as the superlative orchestral contribution (make no mistake, there are at least 3 world class orchestras resident in Berlin today). This listener (at least) is eagerly awaiting the next installment of the Ring." ~sa-cd.net
"This is the 6th instalment of PentaTone’s successful Wagner Edition. It is the first time in the recording history that a label records all major Wagner opera’s with the same orchestra, choir and conductor. This makes the PentaTone Wagner Edition a great collector’s item. All operas are recorded live in the Philharmonie in Berlin. The first five recordings were awarded with “Editor’s Choice” (Gramophone), Recording of the Month and Opera Choice of the Month (BBC Music Magazine), CD of the week (Sunday Times). Based on the reviews of the concert we expect high scores for the Tannhäuser recording as well." ~prestoclassical
"PentaTone have definitely established a winning formula for success with the ten Wagner operas they are currently recording in association with Deutschlandradio Kultur in Berlin. (…) The presentation of this set is excellent. Thankfully, it includes a well translated German/ English libretto (unlike the travesty supplied with the Bychkov version), a thought provoking essay on the opera by Steffen Georgi and full artist biographies. Though my own allegiance to the Bychkov version among recent recordings remains steadfast this Janowski account is unlikely to disappoint. It will surely be welcomed by avid Wagnerites and makes one eager for the next issue in what is proving to be a superlative series." ~sa-cd.net
"…This dramatic and involving 'Parsifal' raises Marek Janowski's epic Wagnerian journey to a new level of excellence that one hopes will be maintained in the performances and recordings yet to come - an exciting prospect for all Wagnerites!" ~sa-cd.net
In Richard Wagner’s 'Ring of the Nibelung', the first act of 'Die Walküre' takes up a special place. The love-triangle of the twins Siegmund and Sieglinde and the ominous Hunding stands out in the context of this tetralogy because it possesses its own dramatic tension and self-enclosed trajectory within what is otherwise such a complex, richly interconnected series of works. In musical terms it goes from one climax to the next, from the turbulent orchestral prelude through to Siegmund’s love song “Winterstürme wichen dem Wonnemond” and the passionate union of the sibling couple. At the most recent production at the Vienna State Opera, the twins were sung by Nina Stemme and – for the first time in the role – Johan Botha.