|Der fliegende Holländer|
Studio recording in mono
March 13-16, 1944
|Conductor: Clemens Krauss|
Chor der Bayerischen Staatsoper
|Grammofono 2000, AB 78731/32
Review by Frank Jaeger|
For years and years the Italian labels like Fonit Cetra or Fono Enterprise
provided a bunch of stunning historic performances for the real Opera
lovers. Despite their often questionable sound quality, it is the
fascination of the great voices and the lively artistry during the golden
age of Wagner singing what makes this recordings so valuable.
Recently I bought my fourth Holländer. It comes in a 2-CD box together
with a shabby leaflet full of mistakes. But it was incredible cheap
(20 US$). What makes this Holländer so special?
First of all it is Hans Hotter. With his powerful but everytime well
balanced voice together with the warmth of his timbre you can imagine
why he was one of the most beloved Wagner "Heldenbariton" in this century.
From the very beginning, with his great monologue ("Die Frist ist um..."),
he convinces in every bar of his score with a seldom experienced mixture
of despair, ardent virility and an intellectual overall view. Later in
his career, his famous timbre became more and more nasal. But at this
time he was able to combine the warmth in his voice with a black and evil
The cast includes many rock-solid longtime members of the Munich Opera
(Klarwein, Willer, Ostertag). Especially to mention the Daland of Georg
Hann. It is not his extraordinary great voice what strikes me most. It is,
and you can feel it, his stage presence. In his time, he was famous for
the more "buffo" roles like Falstaff but sang nearly the whole bass and
bass-baritone repertoire. The way of his singing is somewhat old-fashioned
but very audible and with a pure natural sense of stage presence.
The only miscast is the Senta of Viorica Ursuleac. The famous soprano,
wife of Clemens Krauss and creator of some of Richard Strauss's great
female roles, has neither the dramatic range nor the needed youthful
dreamy expression. In the exposed parts her voice is shrill and flickering.
Trying to lift and stabilize her voice she tends to pronounce all vowels
like an "a" or "o". The reason is obvious. At this time she had been
through her best days for quite a while. Although Munich set the pace
in Wagner at that time, it was not easy to cast difficult roles in the
isolated and heavy destroyed Reich with its unconditional surrender only
14 months away. In 1943 the Opera House was totally destroyed and the
musicians moved to the Prinzregententheater. Build up around 1900, it was
planned after the ideas of Richard Wagner, who heavily promoted a
"democratic" Operahouse, where you can see and hear evenly good from all
After Hans Hotter it is the orchestra, conducted by one of the great
specialists in the German repertoire, convincing me most. With this
Holländer you can get an impression what happens, when an orchestra with
this tradition plays under a maestro who is at his best. Although Krauss
sometimes used rather excentric tempi, he never looses the dramatic
impulse needed to force this opera. An Opera which in my opinion has more
to do with Rossini than Richard Wagner would have ever been admitting.
Between 1900 and World War II it was Munich and not Bayreuth or Vienna
where the great music dramas of Wagner have been cultivated in an
unprecedented way. Documenting this is one of the merits of this recording.
Restored by CEDAR the sound is acceptable. I recommend this set not only
for collectors, but also if you already or only have this dull ADD or DDD-
polished studio productions. This one gives you a good insight in the
heat of the promethean forge.