Meistersinger von Nürnberg
Live recording in mono from
Bayerische Staatsoper, München
December 10, 1949
Conductor: Eugen Jochum
Hans Sachs Hans Hotter
Veit Pogner Max Proebstl
Kunz Vogelgesang Franz Klarwein
Konrad Nachtigall Karl Hoppe
Sixtus Beckmesser Benno Kusche
Fritz Kothner Egmont Koch
Balthasar Zorn Karl Mücke
Ulrich Ei▀linger Hans Kern
Augustin Moser Karl Mösch
Hermann Ortel Fritz Richard Bender
Hans Schwarz Walter Bracht
Hans Foltz Rudolf Wünzer
Walther von Stolzing Günther Treptow
Eva Annelies Kupper
Magdalene Ruth Michaelis
David Paul Kuen
Ein Nachtwächter Fritz Richard Bender
Chor und Orchester der
Bayerischen Staatsoper
MYTO, MCD 994.H035 4 CDs ADD
Bonustracks: Walküre act 1 with Hilde Konetzni,
Günther Treptow and Herbert Alsen under Rudolf Moralt.
Also available complete.
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Review by Davyd Melnyk

I offer this review as a counterpart to the existing one on Cluytens' 1956 set featuring Hotter. This recording also stars Hotter as Sachs, but without the annoying sound defects of that Music and Arts release. I'm sure we won't fall out over 5 seconds of distortion when Beckmesser accuses Sachs of wooing intentions (from 'Ja, war es das').

Having heard both I would be inclined to say that Hotter's singing is also preferable in this account. Windgassen's Walther, sadly, can't be matched here, although Treptow is on much better form than in the La Scala Ring, a year later, and sings with artistry and dramatic verity if occasionally reminding one of Kollo through the imperfections of his natural tone.

Kusche was famous for his Beckmessers and this is his first on record, the traditional blend of singing and caricature is offered, but the latter is minimal enough to avoid offending those who prefer the role played relatively straight. Kupper as Eva is occasionally prone to wobble, but has great beauty and intensity, particularly at 'O Sachs, mein Freund' - one of the most moving versions of this that I have ever heard. I would certainly place her ahead of Brouwenstijn, as I would Kusche above Schmitt-Walter.

The Pogner, Proebstl, is pleasing enough if not quite up to the true star quality of Ridderbusch in 1970. Kuen is a very fine David and has an almost equally good Magdalene in Michaels.

Where this set really buries the Music and Arts release is in the conducting. Cluytens is uninspired for half the opera, and is not exceptional even in Act III. Jochum, by contrast, is uniformly brilliant, never dropping below a very high standard and occasionally reaching the sublime - perhaps the most tender instrumental support ever given to Act I's famous chorale. Elsewhere in Act III he offers a truly idiomatic blend of the festive and the aesthetic, and if his preludes can't quite stand up to Bayreuth '43 this is only because no one ever has. Fans of his later DG set will need little convincing, perhaps still less when I assure them that his '49 reading is the better conducted as well as the better sung. All seem uplifted by the special occasion of a first performance of Die Meistersinger in Munich since the war.

The final word must go to Hotter's Sachs. Ceaselessly expressive, a wonderful response to the Wittenberg Nightingale chorus in Act III shows some of Hotter's tone shading at its best. A Wahn monologue to rival even Schorr's, and - dare I say it ? - perhaps a Flieder monologue that surpasses his illustrious predecessor. All is topped off by a truly stirring rendition of 'Verachtet mir'.

Although 50 years old and a live recording - which is actually usually an advantage in Die Meistersinger - the sound is absolutely fine for all but 5 mercifully brief seconds; the occasional creaking of stage floorboards actually endeared the set to me still further - who wants to believe that Wagner takes place in a Platonic vacuum? Hotter maniacs will want to own both performances but those with less cash or enthusiasm should turn to Myto and one of the great Meistersingers. Oddly enough, the Cluytens set mentions this one as an unavailable El Dorado. Music and Arts gave us a voice crying in the wilderness; Myto has brought the redeemer.