OP0396. DER RING DES NIBELUNGEN, Live Performance, 1953, w.Krauss Cond. Bayreuth Festival Ensemble; Wolfgang Windgassen, Ramón Vinay, Astrid Varnay, Regina Resnik, Hans Hotter, Hermann Uhde, Josef Greindl, etc. (Germany) 13-Archipel 0250. Boxed Set. Outstanding sound! Now out-of-print, final copy! - 4035122402506
“…this Krauss performance, in amazingly good sound, captures a level of conducting inspiration and of consistent vocal and dramatic insight probably never equaled by any other recorded RING, live or studio.
Krauss is best remembered as a Strauss specialist (Richard and Johann Jr.). This was the only summer he conducted at Bayreuth, sharing the RING with Joseph Keilberth and also leading PARSIFAL. He died suddenly in May of 1954, at the age of 61. And yet he proves himself a magisterial Wagnerian, quicker and more intense than more overtly Germanic conductors like Furtwängler or Hans Knappertsbusch, but full of a lyricism that balances his quite remarkable passion.
The love duets in the first act of DIE WALKÜRE and the third act of SIEGFRIED, as well as the oaths on the spear in Act II of GÖTTERDÄMMERUNG, attain a rare intensity. But lesser moments, like the coltish beginning of Act II of DIE WALKÜRE or the jocular/truculent second scene of the third act of SIEGFRIED are likewise enlivened. This is quite simply a great interpretation.
The singers, too, have rarely been equaled as an ensemble. This was Windgassen's first summer of Siegfrieds at Bayreuth, and while he later learned to express himself more poetically, he was never in fresher, more generous voice. Hotter is at his peak as Wotan, firm and sure, and Varnay brings a wonderful womanly intensity to Brünnhilde, with little of the edgy, constricted quality that mars some of her singing elsewhere. Greindl, too, who soon developed an annoying wobble, is in solid technical command here, and down the line (with a couple of lesser exceptions) this is a cast of practiced, inspired Wagnerians that would be hard to match today…. do yourself a favor: if you love Wagner, get this RING ….It's a performance for the ages.”
- John Rockwell, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 5 June, 1988
“1953 was the third year of 'New Bayreuth', with the pattern each year of two cycles of the RING, several performances of PARSIFAL, and two other dramas, one in a new production, being established. In 1953 the major crises was the absence of Hans Knappertsbusch, who in the first two years had already come to be the backbone of the musical side. So, rather late in the day, Wieland Wagner summoned to Bayreuth two conductors of the generation after Knappertsbusch: Clemens Krauss to conduct PARSIFAL and the second cycle of the RING, and Joseph Keilberth to conduct the first RING cycle and the new production of LOHENGRIN.
This was the first year in which Hans Hotter sang all three Wotans, and he is in stupendous form the whole way through. For the first time at Bayreuth Martha Mödl sings Brünnhilde, and she too is at her finest, that unmistakeable voice full and warm. And this was also the first year that Wolfgang Windgassen sang Siegfried, a role he made his own for at least the next 15 years. In 1953 he sings with a volume and energy which has him in line with his predecessors rather than his successors.
This Cycle (and the later one under Clemens Krauss) established the major figures for the next five years, Hotter always as Wotan, Varnay and Mödl more or less alternating as Brünnhilde, and Windgassen, with one exception, Siegfried, similarly Gustav Neidlinger as Alberich. No more satisfactory RING cast has been assembled since, indeed none can touch it.”
- Hans Lick
“Clemens Heinrich Krauss was a leading Austrian conductor, particularly associated with the music of Richard Strauss, who got to his major positions by the resignation of conductors less sympathetic to the German Nazi regime.
His mother was Clementine Krauss, a leading Viennese actress and singer. He was also related to Gabrielle Krauss (1842 - 1904), an important nineteenth century soprano. His father was a figure in the Austrian Imperial Court. When Clemens went into music, he used his mother's name because of its theatrical history.
When he was a boy, he was a chorister in the Hofkapelle (Imperial Choir). He attended the Vienna Conservatory, graduating in 1912. He studied composition with Grädener and theory with Heuberger. After graduation he was chorus master in the Brünn Theater (1912 - 1913), and there he made his conducting début in 1913.
He made the rounds of regional centers, conducting in Riga (1913 - 1914), Nüremberg (1915), and Sczeczin (1916 - 1921). The latter appointment gave him ample opportunity to travel to Berlin to hear Artur Nikisch conduct the Philharmonic, a major influence. His next appointment was back in Austria, where he became director of the opera and symphony concerts in Graz. In 1922 he joined the conducting staff of the Vienna State Opera and teacher of the conducting class at the State Academy of Germany. In 1923 he became conductor of the Vienna Tonkünstler Concerts (until 1927), and Intendant of the opera in Frankfurt am Maine and director of the Museum Concerts in 1924, until 1929.
He visited the United States in 1929, conducting in Philadelphia and at the New York Philharmonic. Also in 1929 he was appointed director of the Vienna State Opera. Its orchestra, in its independent concert form as the Vienna Philharmonic, appointed him its music director in 1930. He was a regular conductor at the Salzburg Festival from 1926 to 1934. In 1933 and 1934 he gave up his Vienna positions, becoming director of the Berlin State Opera in 1935 after Erich Kleiber resigned in protest over Nazi rule. Leaving Austria for Nazi Germany was no hardship for Krauss, who was a friend of both Hitler and Göring. In 1933 he took over the preparations for the premieres of Strauss' opera ARABELLA when the principled conductor Fritz Busch left. In 1937 he was appointed Intendant of the Munich National Theater, following the resignation there of Knappertsbusch. He became a close friend of Richard Strauss, wrote the libretto to the opera CAPRICCIO (which he premiered in Munich in 1942), and DER LIEBE DER DANAE. He also conducted the premiere of Strauss' anti-War cantata ‘Friedenstag’.
After the Munich opera house was bombed, shutting it down, he returned to conduct the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra until it closed shortly before the end of the War (1944 - 1945). After the War, Allied officials investigated his pro-Nazi activities and because of them forbade him from appearing in public until 1947. Notably, however, they also found that he had frequently acted to assist a number of individual Jews escape the Third Reich machine. When his ban was lifted he resumed frequently conducting the Vienna Philharmonic, including its famous New Years Day concerts.
He conducted at Covent Garden in London (1951 to 1953) and in the 1953 Bayreuth Festival [whose RING of that season is famously notable]. He was married to the soprano Viorica Ursuleac. He was in Mexico on vacation when he died there in 1954.”
- Joseph Stevenson, allmusic.com
“Hotter was far, far more than a Wagnerian….[he] sang Lieder at recitals and in the studio throughout his timeless career….All his interpretations evinced a care over matching text to music. Even in Wagner he gave a Lieder singer's attention to the words….In private he was a gentle giant, an engaging raconteur and an intelligent observer of the musical scene”
- Alan Blyth, GRAMOPHONE, March, 2000
“Hermann Uhde’s American mother was a student of the famous baritone Karl Scheidemantel. He was trained as a bass, by Philipp Kraus at the Opera School in Bremen, where he made his début as Titurel (1936). After engagements in Freiburg and Munich he appeared for the first time in baritone rôles at the Deutsches Theater im Haag in 1942. A prisoner-of-war from April 1945 to February 1946, he did not return to the stage until 1947. He subsequently appeared at the opera houses of Hamburg, Vienna and Munich where he became a member of the ensemble. He gained great success in rôles such as Mandryka, Gunther and Telramund, in which he was particularly admired. The artist was regularly invited to the Bayreuth Festival from 1951 to 1960 where he became one of its most important members, appearing as Holländer, Klingsor, Gunther, Donner, Wotan in RHEINGOLD, Telramund and Melot. He was also a guest at the Salzburg Festival and performed a superb Wozzeck at the Met (sung in English!) where he regularly appeared from 1955 to 1961 and again in 1964. He sang at the Grand Opéra Paris as well as at other European opera houses. He created several rôles, including Creon in Orff’s ANTIGONAE, the baritone rôles in Britten’s THE RAPE OF LUCRETIA and Wagner-Régeny’s DAS BERGWERK ZU FALUN. He died of a heart attack during a performance of Niels Viggo Bentzon’s FAUST III, at Copenhagen in 1965.”
- Andrea Shum-Binder, subito-cantabile