This recording of a live performance of MEISTERSINGER from Bayreuth 1957 definitely merits five stars. For those of you who don't already know this, Gustav Neidlinger (PeaceBeUponHim) was the undisputed master of Wagner's "howling-and-spitting" villain roles, Alberich and Klingsor, from the early 1950s until the mid 1970s. He sang with unmatched sulfur, cannon-ball density, huge volume, dark tone, and powerful dramatic interpretation. He sang more spontaneously and from-the-gut than most singers. He was the first of his generation to sing these roles with musical line and connected legato, rather than as a series of isolated shouts, grunts, and bellowings. He was typecast for these villainous roles as soon as he set foot on the stage, and almost never performed as a good-guy.
Richard Wagner's reputation rests on his tetralogy, Der Ring des Nibelungen, and the other music dramas he created, including Lohengrin, Tannhäuser, Tristan und Isolde, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, and Parsifal, which revolutionized all aspects of late Romantic music and left their mark on modern music as well. Yet there is a small body of non-operatic works that shows a more relaxed Wagner working on a much smaller scale: his Siegfried Idyll for chamber orchestra, a group of songs, and a collection of pieces for piano. This double CD by Pier Paolo Vincenzi presents Wagner's complete piano music with three sonatas, a large-scale fantasia, and eleven short pieces that show the composer's attempts at finding a more personal and intimate voice.
“I do not know precisely what is my destination: however, I do know that 1 evening, after for the 1st time hearing a symphony by Beethoven, I became feverish & ill. As soon as I recovered, I became a musician.” Thus Richard Wagner described the enormous impression that Beethoven’s music had made on him in his novelette Eine Pilgerfahrt zu Beethoven (a pilgrimage to Beethoven). Although it is difficult to separate fact & fiction in this novelette, Beethoven’s music did indeed exert a major influence on the life of the young composer. Wagner was 17 years old when he 1st heard Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, a work which was to play a central role during his entire life, & which he was, for instance, to conduct in 1846 at the opening of the Festival Theatre in Bayreuth.
Performances of the music of Richard Wagner will for many be associated with Ivбn Fischer's elder brother Adam who has conducted complete Ring cycles at Bayreuth & in Budapest. Those, however, who follow the concert schedules of Ivбn Fischer & his phenomenally hard working Budapest Festival Orchestra will know that they have performed the Wagner programme featured on this SACD – or variations on it - to great acclaim in many of the major European cities over the past couple of years.
Esoteric have produced a remarkable transfer that preserves beautifully the hall sound, spatial information and detail. The brass and mass strings have excellent detail, revealing a lot of subtle harmonies and variation – a boon for anything Wagner. This contributes to an overall impression of sophistication and restraint and goes perfectly with Karajan's Wagner.
Ostensibly Richard Wagner's opera Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg tells a humorous tale about artistically inclined craftsmen. Goldsmith Veit Pogner promises his daughter Eva's hand in marriage to the winner of a song contest, to which three men are potentially eligible. But upon closer inspection, what is at first glance a harmless farce in a middle-class setting emerges as a profound social analysis. Wagner uses his protagonists to show how a community deals with tradition and those who break with it and just how much innovation and deviation from the norm it can tolerate - as well as to examine what value society places, and should place, on art. "'Meistersinger' that's on an entirely new Wagnerian scale…it is full of smart ideas and moments of effective theater." (The Washington Post)
Staged and directed by Richard Wagner's grandson Wolfgang at the Bayreuther Festspiele in 1984, this production of Wagner's only comedy dispenses with the common cliches to reveal the humanity of each character. Here, Beckmesser is no longer a foolish caricature but a cultivated intellectual; Stolzing emerges as a thoughtful individual rather than aggressive aristocret; and Hans Sachs sheds his solemn patriarchal veneer to become a likeable middle-aged man. “Hermann Prey´s interpretation of Beckmesser as a cultivated intellectual is a triumph of dramatic and vocal artistry: a stunning performance . . . Brilliant . . . Bernd Weikl as Sachs – an almost unique combination of musical refinement and expressive power.” (Abendzeitung, Munich)
English-speaking audiences have always found Die Meistersinger to be a life-enhancing celebration of wisdom, art and song. So it proves in David McVicar's production – the first at Glyndebourne – which is updated to the early-19th century of Wagner's childhood. At the centre of a true ensemble cast is Gerald Finley, a 'gleamingly sung', 'eminently believable' Sachs (The Independent on Sunday), supported by the dynamic conducting of Vladimir Jurowski which, like McVicar's production, uses Glyndebourne's special intimacy to bring sharp focus to bear on the subtlety of Wagner's musical and dramatic counterpoint.