C1321. OTTO ACKERMANN Cond. Philharmonia Orch., w.Otto Edelmann: Die Walküre - Wotan's Farewell; Der Fliegende Höllander - Excerpts (both Wagner), recorded 1957; w.Elisabeth Schwarzkopf: Capriccio -Closing Scene; Vier letzte Lieder (both Strauss), recorded 1953. (Japan) Opus Kura 7072. - 4582158687723
“Born in Bucharest, in 1909, Otto Ackermann was an important operatic conductor in the German tradition. His first professional position was at the Düsseldorf Opera House, where he was appointed Kappelmeister in 1927, after completing his musical studies at the Royal Academy of Bucharest and the Hochschule für Musik in Berlin. In 1932, he became Chief Kapellmeister at the German Theater of Brno, Czechoslovakia, remaining there until 1935. That year, he moved to Switzerland in 1935, where he was chief Kapellmeister of the Berne Municipal Theater from 1935 to 1947.
World War II prevented the development of an international career, which waited until the years beginning in 1949, when he primarily worked in the Zürich Opera, where he was principal conductor from 1949 to 1953. He became director of the Cologne Opera House in 1955 and returned to Zürich in 1958.
During the 1950s, he began to appear more frequently as guest conductor and was especially valued as a conductor of the leading operettas and of Mozart's operas. He most frequently guest conducted at the Vienna State Opera. Ackermann, who died in 1960, left a number of valued recordings, including a Léhar and Johann Strauss, operettas, and several orchestral song recordings with Elisabeth Schwarzkopf.”
- Joseph Stevenson, allmusic.com
“Otto Edelmann, a leading Austrian bass-baritone of the postwar period particularly known for his interpretations of Wagner and Strauss roles, had a long association with the Vienna State Opera where he sang for 30 years, and also had a close relationship with the Metropolitan Opera, where he made his début in 1954 as Hans Sachs in Wagner's MEISTERSINGER and sang there until April, 1976. His final Met role was Baron Ochs in Strauss' ROSENKAVALIER, one of his signature roles, which he first performed in 1952 at La Scala with Elisabeth Schwarzkopf and Herbert von Karajan.
Born in Brunn am Gebirge, Austria, in 1917, Mr. Edelmann studied in Vienna with Theodor Lierhammer and Gunnar Graarud and had his first engagement in Mozart's NOZZE DI FIGARO in Gera, Germany, at the age of 20. He was subsequently engaged as a company bass in Nuremberg, where he sang his first Waldner in ARABELLA under the baton of the opera's composer, Richard Strauss. In World War II he was conscripted into the German army and spent two years as a Soviet prisoner of war before returning to the stage in 1947, first in Graz, Austria, and soon thereafter with the company of the Vienna State Opera, with whom he made his début as the Hermit in Weber's DER FREISCHÜTZ."
- Anne Midgette, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 16 May, 2003
“The [last] years were not kind to soprano Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, an all-but-universally-adored diva - a beautiful and enormously popular opera star, a revered interpreter of German art song, a central figure in some of the most celebrated recordings of the mid-20th century….her harshly imperious manner in the master classes she gave after retirement infuriated many of her gentler colleagues. She terrified the young Renee Fleming, among others.
Moreover, styles of classical singing had changed, and some listeners found themselves agreeing with the late critic B.H. Haggin, who once complained of Schwarzkopf's ‘excessively mannered and affected phrasing and expressive hamming, exaggerated pouting, archness, gasps and whispers’. The cliché about the forest and the trees could be adapted for Schwarzkopf: There were times when one could hardly hear the music for the interpretation.
Nevertheless, she was a very great artist, one who combined a lustrous and opulent voice, a thespian's gift for intimate characterization, a sharp, creative intelligence and an innate artistic dignity….with Schwarzkopf's death, an era seems well and truly at an end.
Nobody was better placed to benefit from [the new LP] activity than Schwarzkopf, who was married to the all-powerful Walter Legge, then artistic director of EMI Records. He guided and guarded her career with obsessive devotion, and we are the richer for their collaborations.
The best evaluation of Schwarzkopf remains that of the English critic J.B. Steane in his invaluable book THE GREAT TRADITION: ‘The thought and art are so marvelously exact that one wants to call them calculated, which immediately suggests something unfeeling and insincere; yet this is self-evidently absurd, for insincerity, like sentimentality, betrays itself by inexactness and distortion. What one has in Schwarzkopf is a high degree of awareness -- of colors and styles, and of the existence of choice’.”
- Tim Page, WASHINGTON POST, 4 Aug., 2006
"In part because of Elisabeth Schwarzkopf's then unusual concentration on the song literature, she developed an early reputation as the thinking man’s singer. She teamed up early with Walter Legge, the producer, impresario, and later her husband, who coached his wife assiduously in her incredibly detailed if remarkably unspontaneous art….At all points she seems smarter than her material, giving a wink and a nudge to be sure the listener ‘gets it’."
- John Story, FANFARE, March/April, 2005