OP1980. PARSIFAL – Act I, Live Performance, 1946, Buenos Aires, w.Kleiber Cond. Teatro Colón 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 Tannhäuser, 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 Aïda’ softly as Verdi notated, his reward was only a smattering of applause.
Ralf made his début 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 début 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 début 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 TANNHÄUSER 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
“After studying law and serving as an officer in World War I, Janssen studied with Oskar Daniel in Berlin and made his late début at the Berlin State Opera in 1922 as Herod in Schreker’s DER SCHATZGRÄBER. He remained with the company until 1938 where he was very successful not only in Wagner but also in Verdi and French operas. He also appeared as Orest and Prince Igor. Guest appearances followed in Vienna and Buenos Aires. He was regarded as the outstanding exponent of the lighter Wagnerian baritone parts (Kurwenal, Wolfram, Amfortas, Gunther, Telramund, Kothner, Donner, Heerrufer) and appeared at Covent Garden (1926 - 1939) and Bayreuth (1930 - 1937). The Nazi regime caused him to leave Germany (1938). He made his début at the Philadelphia Opera in 1939 (as Wotan in SIEGFRIED!). He was immediately engaged at the Met and remained there from 1939 to 1952. He was a frequent guest at all major American opera houses. After Friedrich Schorr’s retirement in 1943 he reluctantly took over the heavier rôles of Wotan and Hans Sachs, but they did not suit his voice. He considered the loss of vocal refinement and darkening of his famous upper tones. Herbert Janssen had always been a favorite recitalist and conquered a new generation of concertgoers, when he reappeared in London as a Lieder singer after World War II. He often stated that he would have preferred to sing Italian operas; he loved Verdi! At the end of his career he became a vocal coach.
Janssen’s voice carried a depth of feeling and it was of dramatic and individual character. He is famous for his Wagner recordings and they belong to his greatest achievements. His lieder recordings are true treasures!”
- Andrea Shum-Binder, subito-cantabile
"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