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Subject: 1956 Bayreuth MEISTERSINGER (was What became of ..)
From: William D Kasimer <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:[log in to unmask]
Date:Sat, 21 Mar 1998 17:36:45 -0500

text/plain (66 lines)

Marc Musnick <[log in to unmask]> writes:

> Just yesterday, I noticed the release of a
>"Meistersinger", early 50s from Bayreuth with Hotter as Sachs and
>Cluytens conducting.  Is anyone familiar with this performance?

I've had a pirate tape of this performance for about twenty years (in
fact, I believe that I purchased this from a certain member of this
list), and when it was issued (by Music and Arts) last week, decided to
replace it, figuring that the sound would be considerably better.  While
it IS considerably better, it still isn't very good - lots of hiss,
static, dynamic variation, and pitch instability.  It has nowhere near
the sound quality of the available Bayreuth performances of the era
(comparison with the recently released RING from the same year is
particularly unflattering), which is presumably why it's never been
issued previously.

As for the performance, I liked it better twenty years ago.  At that
time, of course, one couldn't buy the Kubelik or second Solti recording,
the Kempe was out of print, and those 30's Met performances were
unavailable, so a cast of Brouwenstijn, Windgassen, and Hotter looked
awfully appealing.  Hotter is definitely past his best.  The voice, as
always, has a pretty noticeable wobble, but on this occasion the tone at
least has some semblance of focus.  Of course, no one listens to Hotter
for vocal perfection, and as always, he makes every other singer of this
role (Schorr excepted) sound either clumsy or generalized.  Brouwenstijn
is fine, although I have to admit that I find her a bit faceless after
Mattila and Gueden.  Windgassen isn't at his best, perhaps because he
sang a few too many performances that year (including a last-minute
Siegmund when Vinay cancelled, added to Siegfried in the same cycle);
much of the higher reaches of the role can only be described as wailing.

It's downhill from there.  Greindl was in pretty good vocal shape that
year, judging from this and his Hagen, but the vocal personality is all
wrong for Pogner.  Stolze is a dreadful David; when he's not crooning or
using Sprechstimme, he often resorts to a sort of Broadway belt that
makes him sound like Reno Sweeney.  The best that I can say of the aging
Schmitt-Walter's Beckmesser is that I've heard worse.  Fischer-Dieskau is
an insufferable, preening, narcissistic Kothner, if you like that sort of
thing.  Cluytens' conducting falls into the "perfectly OK, but nothing
special" category.

In short, worth having for Hotter only, and if you've already got his
1949 Munich b'cast, you might want to pass, unless you find Kupper and
Treptow unlistenable on the earlier one (as I do).  One attraction of the
1956 Music and Arts set is that it's being sold as 4 CD's for the price
of 3.


William D. Kasimer
[log in to unmask]
[log in to unmask]
Sharon, MA

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