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CD Review

Richard Wagner

Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg

  • Thomas Stewart
  • Sandor Konya
  • Gundula Janowitz
  • Thomas Hemsley
  • Brigitte Fassbaender
  • Gerhard Unger
  • Franz Crass
Bavarian Radio Symphony & Chorus/Rafael Kubelík
Arts Archives 43020-2 4CDs 273m ADD Recorded 1967
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Arts have made Wagnerian enthusiasts indebted to them with two priceless reissues of Kubelík recordings dating from the charismatic Czech conductors' tenure at the Bavarian Radio. This 'Meistersinger' is a fantastic recording that deserves its resurrection and can safely be recommended as one of the best issues now available.

Kubelík directs a noble and passionate course through this, Wagner's longest opera and at times his most comic. You can feel a deep Germanic thread running through the wonderful overture and sailing right through to the opening chorus, you can sense that there is a strong master at the helm. Stewart is an imposing Sachs, his diction is perhaps slightly faulted but there is nothing wrong with his imposing singing that relly is wonderful.

The other soloists are also at the peak of their vocal prime. Gundula Janowitz is a mercurial Eva whilst Brigitte Fassbaender excels as Magdalene with Gerhard Unger also a very creditable David. I really enjoyed the beautiful Second Act which can occasionally seem tedious if in the wrong hands but Kubelík handles all with a delightful knowledge of the score. The glorious Third Act with its Finale is also quite impressive in the 1967 sound.

One would obviously have to have the legendary greats such as the 1971 Karajan (EMI) and the magnificent Guild reissue from the Metropolitan. However, I cannot think of anyone purchasing this set feeling in any way short changed as its price, it also offers a complete libretto and extensive notes. On to 'Parsifal' now!

Copyright © 2003, Gerald Fenech