OP1980. PARSIFAL - Act I, Live Performance, 1946, Buenos Aires, w.Kleiber Cond. Teatro Colon Ensemble; Torsten Ralf, Emanuel List, Herbert Janssen & Rose Bampton; PARSIFAL - Excerpts from Acts I & III, Live Performances, Covent Garden, 1937 & 1949, w.Reiner & Moralt Cond. Royal Opera House Ensemble; Torsten Ralf, Ludwig Weber, Herbert Janssen & Robert Easton; PARSIFAL - Excerpts, recorded 1925-49, w.Muck, Weissmann, Barbirolli, Ormandy, Moralt & Siegfried Wagner Cond. Frida Leider, Gotthelf Pistor, Lauritz Melchior, Alexander Kipnis & Fritz Wolff. (Canada) 3-Immortal Performances IPCD 1006, w.Elaborate 46pp Booklet & notes by Richard Caniell. Restoration, re-creation & transfers by Richard Caniell. - 625989620621
"...a remarkable job of correcting pitch changes, sonic deficiencies, and repairing missing lines to present a flowing, uninterrupted act. [Caniell] also takes missing passages from other sources, taking great care to match the sound characteristics and make a seamless flow between the segments. A most commendable release and highly recommended."
- Bill Russell, THE RECORD COLLECTOR, 2009
“Erich Kleiber decided to become a conductor while still a student at the Prague Conservatory after hearing Gustav Mahler conducting his Sixth Symphony. As choirmaster at the German Theater in Prague, he made his conducting début in 1911 directing the music for a stage comedy. A composer in his student years, his works include violin and piano concertos, orchestral and chamber works.
Following a series of appointments as conductor at Darmstadt, Barmen-Eberfeld, Düsseldorf, and Mannheim, he became general music director of the Berlin State Opera in 1923. In addition to the mainstream repertory, Kleiber introduced unfamiliar works such as Schönberg's PIERROT LUNAIRE, Janácek's JENUFA, Bittner's DAS ROSENGÄRTLEIN, and, after an astounding 132 rehearsals, gave the first U.S. performance of Berg's WOZZECK in 1924. His U.S. début as an orchestral conductor was with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra in 1930.
As conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra and a friend of Alban Berg, Kleiber was planning a Berlin performance of the five symphonic interludes from Berg's opera LULU, but, incensed by the Nazi regime's hostility to atonal music and growing political interference in his choice of programs, he resigned his Berlin post in 1934, left Germany, and appeared as guest conductor in London, Prague, Brussels, Buenos Aires, Amsterdam, and Salzburg. In 1939, Kleiber took up residence in Buenos Aires and became an Argentine citizen. He conducted opera at the Teatro Colón, trained the Buenos Aires Symphony Orchestra and toured extensively in South America with various orchestras. From 1943 he was with the Havana Philharmonic Orchestra, leaving for Europe in 1948.
In postwar Europe, Kleiber was ready to return to his roots. In 1951, he accepted the position of conductor at the Berlin State Opera, then located in the Communist sector of East Berlin, and from 1950 to 1953 conducted at London's Covent Garden opera house. Once again, however, he became dissatisfied with the atmosphere of repression and resigned his Berlin post in 1955. Before his relatively early death, he appeared as guest conductor of orchestras in London, Vienna, Cologne, Stuttgart, and other European centers.
Despite his early enthusiasm for twentieth century music, Kleiber is best remembered for minutely rehearsed and finely balanced interpretations of Beethoven, Mahler, and Bruckner. Even when in Berlin, where much of the Classical and Romantic repertory was familiar to the performers, he usually called five rehearsals before a concert. A perfectionist by nature, he insisted on complete faithfulness to the score. In his words, ‘[t]here are only two enemies of good performance: one is routine and the other improvisation’.
After his death, a performance by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra became available on CD, as did the ROSENKAVALIER he recorded in 1954.”
- Roy Brewer, allmusic.com
"Dramatic tenor Torsten Ralf achieved both artistic and popular success in several of the repertory's heaviest tenor roles. His large, smoothly produced voice was not quite of Heldentenor caliber, given that it lacked the baritonal lower register thought of as necessary for such challenges as Tannhï¿½user, Tristan, and Siegfried. But Ralf possessed unusually full and powerful top notes, fitting him ideally for such roles as Walter von Stolzing and the often painfully high Strauss heroic tenor roles. Indeed, one of the latter was his own creation. Ralf was a conscientious musician, seeking to follow the composer's intentions. When, however, he sang the final B flat at the conclusion of 'Celeste Aida' softly as Verdi notated, his reward was only a smattering of applause.
Ralf made his debut in Stettin as Cavaradossi in a 1930 production of TOSCA. He sang at Chemnitz in 1932 and 1933, then in Frankfurt from 1933 to 1935. In 1935, he began an eight-year association with Dresden, where he appeared as Apollo in the premiere of Strauss' DAPHNE in 1938. A recording made at the time testifies to Ralf's extraordinary facility in the very high tessitura of the role. Ralf's dï¿½but in London also took place in 1935 and he remained with Covent Garden until the outbreak of WWII made his return impossible. He revisited London once more in 1948, as Radames.
London critics appreciated Ralf at his first appearance on 8 May, 1935 -- but the opera house administration liked him even more. He had come from Germany to substitute for an ailing singer in LOHENGRIN. Unable to book a flight, he traveled by ship and train, arriving just three and a half hours before performance time. His supple, yet powerful voice appealed greatly to the public and he became an instant favorite. Surprisingly, Ralf's Walter in MEISTERSINGER the next season was felt to be lacking, but Ernest Newman wrote that his Parsifal was the finest he had ever heard. In November 1936, Ralf was a part of the Dresden Staatsoper ensemble visiting London and offered his Bacchus in a single performance of ARIADNE AUF NAXOS, conducted by the composer himself.
During the period of hostilities, Ralf sang in Central Europe. On 26 November, 1945, he made his dï¿½but at the Metropolitan Opera performing Lohengrin under the baton of Fritz Busch, himself new to the company. The critics were pleased with his smooth delivery of the hero's long narratives and a TANNHï¿½USER three months later was regarded as positive. During the interim, Ralf's Walter elicited the opinion that no other tenor within memory had sung the role with so much freshness and ease. Under George Szell's firm direction, Ralf's Otello was fluent in the more lyric stretches, but short on the volcanic intensity needed for the dramatic outbursts. The eloquence Ralf brought to his Parsifal was as welcome at the Metropolitan in March 1947 as it had been in London.
Among Ralf's recordings, the pre-WWII MEISTERSINGER Act III is indispensable, showing his soaring tenor at its best. Ralf was only 53 at the time of his death."
- Erik Eriksson, allmusic.com
"Herbert Janssen - with his plangent, fine-grained voice, keen intelligence, aristocratic musicianship, and (not incidentally) handsome appearance - was the leading German baritone in several major theatres during the 1920s and 1930s. After study with Oskar Daniel in Berlin he was immediately accepted by Max von Schillings for the Berlin State Opera, where he made his debut in 1922 as Herod in Schreker's DER SCHATZGRABER . He remained at the Berlin State Opera until 1937 singing both lyric and dramatic roles, many of them in the Italian repertory. He later appeared in important productions of DER FLIEGENDE HOLLANDER and TRISTAN UND ISOLDE at Covent Garden conducted by Reiner and Beecham, also singing Orest / ELEKTRA and in 1935 taking the title role in Borodin's PRINCE IGOR, for which he was highly praised.
Janssen was a fixture at the Bayreuth Festival from 1930 to 1937. His Wolfram in TANNHAUSER set a standard not approached since, and, fortunately, it was recorded in a somewhat truncated 1930 production. During that decade, he established benchmarks for several Wagner roles, particularly Kurwenal, Telramund, Gunther, and - especially - Amfortas. His interpretation of the latter was an exquisitely sung realization of a soul in torment, achieving a remarkable unity of voice, movement, and makeup. His doggedly loyal Kurwenal is preserved on complete recordings of TRISTAN UND ISOLDE made live at Covent Garden in 1936 and 1937. His tortured Dutchman is also available in a live recording made at Covent Garden and featuring Kirsten Flagstad as Senta.
In addition to his stage work, Janssen acquired a reputation as a superior singer of Lieder. The exceptional beauty of his voice and his interpretive acuity made him a prime candidate for Walter Legge's Hugo Wolf Society venture of the 1930s. Among the finest singers Legge could pull together, Janssen was given the largest assignment and his subscription recordings made throughout the decade remain supreme, even in the face of the best achievements of post-war Lieder singers.
Janssen was very unpopular with the Nazi regime, having turned down a dinner invitation from Hitler at Bayreuth, Janssen left Germany in 1937 and with Toscanini's assistance traveled immediately to Buenos Aires. After a season in Argentina, he came to the United States where he made his debut at the Metropolitan Opera in 1939, remaining at that theater until his stage retirement in 1952.
From 1940 onwards Janssen sang regularly at Buenos Aires and with the San Francisco Opera between 1945 and 1951. Following his retirement in 1952, he remained in New York as a respected teacher.
Janssen's performances were notable for the warm and sympathetic timbre of his voice, his excellent command of legato and clear enunciation, as well as his convincing acting. Also a highly accomplished lieder singer, he had in addition starred in the musical DREI MUSKETIERE at the Metropol Theatre in Berlin during 1928 opposite Gota Ljungberg."
- Erik Eriksson, allmusic.com
"Rose Bampton, an American opera singer who switched from mezzo-soprano to soprano and sang leading roles in both ranges at the Metropolitan Opera. In January, 1940, she appeared at the Met as Aïda one Saturday and as Amneris a week later. By the time she married Wilfrid Pelletier, a conductor at the Met, in 1937 (he died in 1982) [she] decided to return to the soprano repertory."
- Allan Kozinn, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 23 Aug., 2007