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! - 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….The singers, too, have rarely been equaled as an ensemble….this is a cast of practiced, inspired Wagnerians that would be hard to match today.”
- John Rockwell, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 5 June, 1988
“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, 200
“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