|Meistersinger von Nürnberg|
Live recording in mono from
|Conductor: André Cluytens|
|Hans Sachs|| ||Hans Hotter|
|Veit Pogner|| ||Josef Greindl|
|Kunz Vogelgesang|| |
|Konrad Nachtigall|| |
|Sixtus Beckmesser|| |
|Fritz Kothner|| ||Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau|
|Balthasar Zorn|| |
|Ulrich Ei▀linger|| |
|Augustin Moser|| |
|Hermann Ortel|| |
|Hans Schwarz|| |
|Hans Foltz|| |
|Walther von Stolzing|| ||Wolfgang Windgassen|
|Eva|| ||Gré Brouwenstijn|
Georgine von Milinkovic
|David|| ||Gerhard Stolze|
|Ein Nachtwächter|| |
|Chor und Orchester der|
|Music and Arts, CD-1011
Review by David McKee|
Saying that Kothner nearly steals this "Meistersinger" implies that
it is a poor performance. Far from it. However, when the Kothner is
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, who can't help but be his insightful,
nuanced self, then you have a wonderfully polished and sung character
portrayal that is the work not only of a mastersinger but a Master
Singer. Such witty turns of phrase and such beautiful legato! The
recital of the Tabalatur becomes an illuminating precis of all the
vocal styles Wagner was trying to evoke and also gently parody,
with FiDi singing the runs in enviably long breaths.
Were it not for the towering presence of Hans Hotter as Hans Sachs,
there would be a serious imbalance in the Masters' Guild. As it is,
with the exception of Josef Traxel's Vogelgesang, these masters are
a pretty uncouth bunch who suggest--only too well--tradesmen having
a flyer into singing. Josef Greindl's battery-acid tone makes his
Pogner pretty well unendurable. Nor does Karl Schmitt-Walter offer
a great deal in the way of cantabile, although his pencil point
voice and Singspiel style work persuasively in Beckmesser's patter
episodes, without slipping into the nattering excesses frequently
visited upon the part. Thomas Hemsley (Calig) and Roland Herrmann
(DG) continue to represent the standard in this part.
The anonymous Magdalene can be forgiven, while Gerhard Stolze's
metal jacketed tone seems initially incongruous as David. Deployed
with wit and discretion, however, it ultimately persuades. Similarly,
while Gré Brouwenstijn lacks the ideal shimmer and steadiness of
tone one craves in an Eva, hers is a substantive musical and dramatic
presence. Kudos also to Alfons Herwig's well intoned Nightwatchman.
Wolfgang Windgassen--not entirely comfortable in Walther's tessitura--
manages to improve on the admittedly unimpressive norm for the role.
His singing offers bright tone, dash and intelligence. This is one
Walther who sounds both knightly and poetic: You really believe he's
conjuring up songs out of thin air.
But the colossal performance is Hotter's, one that involves taking
huge risks in phrasing and in challenging the higher reaches of Sachs'
music, where Hotter's tone can obtain a yawny quality. The great
Wagnerian's voice may wobble at times, but more often there is the
tender vibrancy of an infinitely sensitive and wise observer of human
frailty and folly. The monologues in Acts II and III are moments of
profound (in both senses) introspection, while the public moments of
the final scene are so movingly voiced as to stamp this particular
Sachs indelibly in one's roster of great Wagner memories. An heroic
André Cluytens is very good with the small things, giving the principals
both the space and support to shape their important moments in the way
they need. Macrocosmically, this is generic "Meistersinger" conducting,
moving forward broadly but without great distinction, and with some
severe lapses of ensemble--particularly in the Act II riot.
M&A's source tape is not the best, being afflicted with moments of
drop-out and cross-talk, as well as sporadic pitch-waver that makes
Greindl and Schmitt-Walter even more trying than need be.
The Kubelik/Calig "Meistersinger" remains an unequivocal first choice.
Hotter, Windgassen and Fischer-Dieskau, however, are strong inducements
for "Meistersinger" devotees to investigate this set.