C1318. ARTURO TOSCANINI Cond. NBC S.O.: Lohengrin - Act I Prelude; Tristan - Act I Prelude; w.HELEN TRAUBEL & LAURITZ MELCHIOR: Excerpts from Tristan, Tannhäuser, Die Walküre & Götterdämmerung – Live Performance, 22 Feb., 1941, Carnegie Hall; ARTURO TOSCANINI Cond. NBC S.O.: Der Fliegende Holländer – Overture (plus rehearsal); Tannhäuser - Act III Prelude; w.HELEN TRAUBEL & LAURITZ MELCHIOR: Die Walküre - Act I, Scene 3 - 1947 rehearsal. (Canada) 3-Immortal Performances IPCD 1043. Transfers by Richard Caniell. Program Notes by Robert Matthew-Walker, William Youngren & Richard Caniell. Specially priced at Three discs for the price of Two. - 748252293244
"This benefit performance in Carnegie Hall, featuring Lauritz Melchior and Helen Traubel, caused a sensation among opera lovers. No one ever dreamed of such an Immolation; here Toscanini and Traubel gave a performance which surpasses their later commercial recording. Helen Traubel was at that time the greatest native-born Wagnerian soprano in the United States (having been born in St Louis to German immigrants, her diction is excellent), and she is magnificently partnered by Toscanini and the orchestra….The concluding half of Toscanini’s Wagner programme was given over to substantial extracts from the final part of the Ring Cycle, GÖTTERDÄMMERUNG, taking full advantage of the presence of Traubel (as Brünnhilde) and Melchior (as Siegfried). It begins with the short orchestral prelude to the duet in which Brünnhilde sends Siegfried on his journey down the Rhine, followed by Siegfried’s subsequent death and Funeral March and Traubel’s magnificent account of Brünnhilde’s Immolation. The noted critic BH Haggin has recalled that, when he was visiting at Toscanini’s home discussing recordings, the Maestro said of this performance: ‘You must hear the Immolation Scene with Traubel. Ah, che bella voce, che bella voce!’ Clearly, at that time, Toscanini felt he had found his ideal Brünnhilde.”
- Robert Matthew-Walker, Program Notes
“The 22 Feb. 1941 program included selections from LOHENGRIN, TANNHÄUSER, DIE WALKÜRE, TRISTAN UND ISOLDE and GÖTTERDÄMMERUNG. Though some of these have previously been issued, the entire concert has never before been commercially available. As a bonus, 20 minutes from a 1947 rehearsal of DIE WALKÜRE are added….Two days after the concert, on 24 February, Toscanini, Traubel, and the NBC Symphony went into the studio to record the final composition on the 22 February program, Brünnhilde’s Immolation….Finally, there is the 20-minute segment of a rehearsal of Act I, Scene 3 of DIE WALKÜRE from April 1947….As Toscanini implied in the comment about the LOHENGRIN Prelude, Wagner inhabited a musical world as new as a recently discovered planet.”
- William Youngren, Program Notes
“…the final ‘Heil’ sung by Traubel in the GÖTTERDÄMMERUNG Dawn Duet…in which she sang off-pitch with a note that was virtually squawked and then quickly cut off, Melchior, hearing this, abandoned his part of the phrase. This has been remedied….A second repair was a bad horn note in the Rhine Journey….Toscanini approved the [corrected] recording…but on the condition that it was [to be issued] with corrections. For some reason, whether through interference with Gardner (as reported by Haggin in his book about Toscanini), or for some other reason, the RCA LP and the CD release retained Traubel’s bad note which Gardner had assured Toscanini would be remedied from the rehearsal. This has now been belatedly corrected….The Gardner tapes of this concert included some but not all of the broadcast commentary by the inestimable Gene Hamilton, the best of the pre-Ben Grauer commentators.
[In the WALKÜRE scene] there are occasions when Toscanini is loudly objecting but the orchestra keeps playing. This is because Toscanini has not stopped conducting. Other instances which can be confusing occur when Toscanini seems to be talking to the orchestra but they are buzzing in low conversation among themselves; this is when Toscanini has left off addressing the orchestra…stepped off the podium and is addressing one or more musicians privately which the microphone picks up. [On the 3rd CD, Toscanini conducts the] RIENZI Overture (1938); FLYING DUTCHMAN Overture Rehearsal (29 March 1946); TANNHÄUSER Overture, 29 November 1953.”
- Richard Caniell, Program Notes