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CD Review

Engelbert Humperdinck

Hansel and Gretel
Opera in Three Acts

  • Brigitte Fassbaender
  • Lucia Popp
  • Walter Berry
  • Julia Hamari
  • Anny Schlemm
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra/Georg Solti
Decca 470567-2 107m DDD
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This magic fairytale 'children's opera' has had many successful recordings over the years and Sir Georg Solti's version is surely amongst the front runners. Having been previously available on full price discs for a decade, it has now been issued in the laudable paperback opera series with the libretto on CD-ROM.

The trio of singers match perfectly well together. Fassbaender is in glorious voice here with some particularly telling singing in the Second Act. Lucia Popp is also at the top of her range, this much lamented singer is given a lastingly glorious tribute here. Berry and Hamari are also on top form as the Mother and Father whilst Schlemm's Witch is suitably grotesque and sinister.

I will not be going into detail on the respective arias and sections and the playing of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra is beyond reproach, and it is enhanced considerably by the magnificent Decca recording. Although I still retain particular affection for the timeless recording with Karajan in 1953 featuring Schwarzkopf in her absolute prime, this late analogue recording at mid price is a huge bargain.

Copyright © 2003, Gerald Fenech