OP1782. DIE MEISTERSINGER, Live Performance, 16 Aug., 1943, w.Abendroth Cond. Bayreuth Festival Ensemble; Paul Schöffler, Friedrich Dalberg, Erich Kunz, Ludwig Suthaus, Erich Witte, Hilde Scheppan, etc. (E.U.) 4-Myto 00143. - 8014399501439
“Hermann Abendroth (1883–1956) deserves a greater reputation than he has. His neglect is largely due to the fact that he was active in a generation of giants, being a contemporary of Furtwängler, Klemperer, Toscanini, Stokowski, Walter, Beecham, Mravinsky, and Mengelberg, to single out just some of the leading lights. He held the post of Kapellmeister of the Gürzenich Orchestra Cologne from 1914 to 1934 but was removed by the Nazi authorities because he was found to be too sympathetic to Jews. However, he subsequently had a thriving career. He was appointed Kapellmeister of the Leipzig Gewandhaus, to replace the Jewish Bruno Walter, and he remained there through the Third Reich while regularly conducting the Berlin Philharmonic and appearing at Bayreuth in 1943 and 1944. After the war Abendroth found himself in East Germany, and because of his Nazi associations he was barred from conducting briefly. He protested that he had never attended any political rally or meeting, which ultimately led to his name being cleared. The Communists appointed him as head of the Radio Orchestra in Leipzig. The bulk of his late career was spent in Communist-controlled countries, including Russia and Czechoslovakia, but also Scandinavia.
Abendroth’s style is not easy to pigeonhole. He tended to favor extremes of tempo, so slow movements (or sections of movements) might be slower than the norm, and conversely quick tempi tended to be on the fast side."
"...[Abendroth] was a bright star in the constellation of German musicians. His recordings are less rare than little known, especially in the West. Though most are late, they are all in the old manner and warrant attention from anyone with an interest in musical traditions."
- David Radcliffe, AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE, Jan./Feb., 1996
"Perhaps not a household name except to followers of exceptional, tradition-oriented conductors, Hermann Abendroth was born in Frankfurt am Main in 1883, the year of Wagner 's death, and he studied in Munich, where one of his teachers was Felix Mottl, the legendary conductor and former pupil of Anton Bruckner. His artistic life centered around Cologne and Leipzig. After being conductor of the Cologne Gurzenich Orchestra from 1915 to 1934, he spent eleven years as conductor of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra. He also directed the Cologne Conservatory and had a hand in forming the College of Music. His conducting was marked by his unpretentious objectivity, and this attitude corresponded with the way he pursued his career - straightforwardly and always thinking far ahead. He was an artist with roots to his home and his institution. Just months after World War II he was appointed musical director in Weimar, where he felt at home up to the time of his death in 1956. In 1949 he had also assumed the direction of the Leipzig Radio Symphony, and four years later of the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra. What all of his interpretations share is the sense of architecture and dramatic structure which always places the parts of a movement in the larger context. For Hermann Abendroth, interpreting meant performing a work to the best of one's knowledge, not distorting it whatever the cost with a reading of one's own."
- Zillah D. Akron
“Despite having been born in Germany, bass-baritone Paul Schöffler became a favorite in Austria, both at the Vienna Staatsoper and at the Salzburg Festival. Aside from Friedrich Schorr, he was undoubtedly the finest, most complex interpreter of Hans Sachs in the recorded era. Although his voice could sound slightly dry and lacked the imperious sound for Wotan (which he did sing on occasion), it served him well through an unusually long career. His Sachs at the Metropolitan Opera in November 1964 was superbly sung, remarkable in its stamina, even though Schöffler was 67 at the time. A live recording of Strauss' DAPHNE made in Vienna that same year confirms the impression. The work of an aristocratic artist, Schöffler's interpretations of such roles as Scarpia, Don Giovanni, and Iago were always distinguished, even when not stylistically definitive. The years since his retirement from leading roles have not produced a remotely comparable artist.
Schöffler studied with Waldemar Stägemann in his native Dresden before traveling to Italy to work with baritone Mario Sammarco. His 1926 stage début took place in Dresden in the role of the Herald in LOHENGRIN, beginning an association with that theater that continued until 1939. In 1939, Schöffler was engaged by the Vienna Staatsoper and remained there until 1970 when he was 73 years old. During his long career, he also sang in London, at Bayreuth, at the Salzburg Festival (1938 - 1965), in several Italian theaters and in America at the Metropolitan Opera, in San Francisco, and in Chicago.
Schöffler's London début came as Donner in a 1934 RHEINGOLD, conducted by Beecham. He was well-received by both the public and the critics, later confirming the positive first impression with his ‘excellent’ singing of the title role in Weinberger's SCHWANDA, THE BAGPIPER. In 1936, he sang Scarpia and, with the visiting Dresden Opera, Figaro in Mozart's LE NOZZE DI FIGARO (sung in German as’Die Hochzeit’) and the title role in one performance of DON GIOVANNI. In the Mozart operas, he was praised for both fine singing and histrionic aptitude. He undertook such other roles in London as Jochanaan, Kurwenal, the RHEINGOLD Wotan (described as ‘lightweight’), and, following WWII, Don Giovanni ‘Germanic’), Don Alfonso, and Pizarro with the visiting Vienna Staatsoper company. With the Royal Opera House company, he repeated his Kurwenal and RHEINGOLD Wotan and added Gunther and his genial Sachs.
At Salzburg, Schöffler created the title role in Gottfried von Einem's DANTONS TOD in 1947, and, five years later, he premiered Jupiter in Strauss' DIE LIEBE DER DANAE.
Schöffler's first American stage appearances came well after WWII, when the singer was already in his early fifties. His Met début was on 26 January, 1950, as Jochanaan, a role he sang to the spectacular Salome of Ljuba Welitsch a few weeks later. Schöffler's performance was praised as that of a superior artist, delineating the character with intelligence and involvement. The bass-baritone faced off against Welitsch in two other productions, setting his Don Giovanni at odds with her Donna Anna and, as a ‘brutish’ Scarpia, menacing her fiery Tosca. Over nine seasons, Schöffler sang a total of 91 performances. His 14 roles included Pizarro, Amfortas, Kurwenal, Oreste, and the Grand Inquisitor. San Francisco heard him, too briefly, in Wagner and Strauss, as did Chicago.
Although Schöffler's voice lacked a sensuous timbre, its warmth and firmness left a positive impression, while his musicianship and artistic integrity were unfailingly of the highest order.”
- Erik Eriksson, allmusic.com
“Frederick Dalberg came to South Africa as a child of 12....he left South Africa in 1930 to study in Dresden. In 1931 he joined the Leipzig Opera, becoming first bass three years later. In 1951 he became first bass in Covent Garden, and participated in first performances of works by Britten and Walton, but in 1957 he resigned to accept the position of first bass in the Mannheim Opera [until January 1970].
During his career, Frederick Dalberg performed in many other opera centres, in Rome, Paris, Vienna, Lisbon, Brussels, Hamburg, Cologne, Stuttgart, Frankfurt, and Düsseldorf, and he was engaged for the Bayreuth Festivals to sing in GÖTTERDÄMMERUNG ([a most noteworthy Hagen]), MEISTERSINGER (Pogner), DER RING DER NIBELUNGEN (Fafner) and other Wagner works. He also sang in the Berlin, Glyndebourne and Schwetzingen Festivals and was well-known as a Lieder singer in German cities. For his achievements as operatic, oratorio and Lieder singer, the title of Kammersänger was conferred on him in Germany.”
- South African Music Encyclopedia (J.P. Malan), 1986 edition, Volume I
“Ludwig Suthaus was one of the most important heldentenors in the 1930-51s era. His baritone-based voice was one of great power coupled with sensitivity to text and music. He was able to scale his operatic voice down to the simplicity of a lieder recital. He could produce a warmth of color with ease. Brilliant high notes were also part of his vocal arsenal.”
- Charles H. Parsons, AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE, Sept./Oct., 2007
“Thoroughly Viennese, bass-baritone Erich Kunz excelled in serious roles (although he sang rather few), comic parts and in operetta characterizations. An indispensable participant in recording producer Walter Legge's Champagne Operetta series in the early 1950s, Kunz, together with Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, defined Viennese operetta style - its lightness, grace, and charm. With a rich, masculine voice, he was a definitive Figaro, Leporello, and Papageno in the tradition of Mozart performance that sprang from the Vienna Opera immediately after WWII. An incomparable Beckmesser, his interpretation was preserved on two live recordings, and he left a number of delightful recordings of Viennese café and university songs.
Kunz studied in his native Vienna, primarily with Theodore Lierhammer at the Vienna Academy. His début took place at Tropau in 1933 as Osmin (a part for deep bass) in Mozart's DIE ENTFÜHRUNG AUS DEM SERAIL. Following that, he sang with a number of smaller German theaters before being engaged by the Breslau Opera for three years. Kunz made his first acquaintance with England when he was offered an opportunity to understudy at the Glyndebourne Festival in 1936. He was soon thereafter assigned several smaller roles.
In 1941, Kunz became a part of the company at the Vienna Staatsoper where he remained throughout his career; he was given the title of Kammersänger in 1948. During the war years, he sang throughout Austria and Germany, primarily in Mozart and Wagner . He made his début at the Salzburg Festival in 1942 as Guglielmo in COSÌ FAN TUTTE and in 1943 became the youngest artist ever to have appeared in a major role at the Bayreuth Festival when he sang Beckmesser in DIE MEISTERSINGER.
Once the hostilities ended, Kunz's career assumed a still more international flavor. Opera performances took him to Florence, Rome, Naples, Paris, Brussels, Budapest, and Buenos Aires. His role at the Salzburg Festival grew and he was a part of the Vienna Staatsoper troupe touring England and France in 1947. The following year brought his debut at the Edinburgh Festival.
A Metropolitan Opera début waited until 1952, but Kunz's appearance as Leporello on 26 November brought a warm response from the audience and positive reviews from the critics. Both local and national writers commented upon his handsome voice and subtle comic skills. Many could recall only a few comparable artists in a role frequently immersed in slapstick routine. The Metropolitan Opera enjoyed his presence for just two years. In addition to Leporello, Kunz appeared as Mozart's Figaro, Beckmesser, and Faninal in ROSENKAVALIER. Chicago heard his treasurable Harlequin in ARIADNE AUF NAXOS and Leporello, both in 1964 and, two seasons later, his wily, yet innocent Papageno in DIE ZAUBERFLÖTE.
While musical tastes had moved from the elegant Mozart style of post-war Vienna to an earthier, more robust Italianate approach by the 1960s, Kunz's inimitable stage persona lost nothing of its potency. Nor did his voice; he continued to sing well even in his sixties and continued to undertake small roles (unforgettable cameos, all) to the end of a long career. In addition to opera house appearances, Kunz graced the stage of the Vienna Volksoper from time to time, giving lessons to both audiences and fellow artists in operetta style and singing.”
- Erik Eriksson, allmusic.com