OP1988. TRISTAN UND ISOLDE, Live Performance, 13 Dec., 1951, w.de Sabata Cond. La Scala Ensemble; Max Lorenz, Gertrude Grob-Prandl, Elsa Cavelti, Sven Nilsson, Sigurd Björling, etc. (E.U.) 3-Myto 00219. Primitive sound. - 0801439902190
“This set, recorded in 1951, is strongly cast, splendidly played, and thrilling in its direction by de Sabata, a great Wagner conductor….This is so flawed sonically that it can be recommended only to specialists who require everything by de Sabata, or Lorenz, or La Scala.”
- John P. McKelvey, AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE, May/June, 2010
“Although he was a composer and a violinist and pianist of virtuoso caliber, Victor de Sabata (born Vittorio) was best known as one of the world's leading conductors, particularly of Italian opera. During the first few years of his career his concentrated on composition. His opera IL MACIGNO (The Rock) was premiered at La Scala in 1917 and was frequently played during the next few years.
Arturo Toscanini (who frequently performed de Sabata's tone poem JUVENTUS of 1919) encouraged de Sabata to consider a conducting career. He began to conduct in 1918, but continued composing as his conducting career gathered steam. He wrote several other orchestral works, mainly with an intriguing mixture of Romantic-era Italian lyricism and dramatic episodes. He soon became the conductor of the Monte Carlo Opera. With that company he gave the world premiere of Ravel's L'ENFANT ET LES SORTILÉGES in 1925. His first performance in the United States was with the Cincinnati Symphony in 1927. He conducted that orchestra through much of 1929, but left to assume a post at La Scala in Milan, débuting there in 1930 with Puccini's LA FANCIULLA DEL WEST. He remained affiliated with La Scala to the end of his life. He concentrated on a broad spectrum of the traditional repertory, plus modern composers like Stravinsky, Debussy, Ravel, Puccini, Sibelius, Strauss, and his Italian contemporaries. He was active as a guest conductor, appearing at the Vienna State Opera in 1936 and the Berlin Philharmonic in 1939. He became closely associated with Wagner's TRISTAN UND ISOLDE, leading him to be invited to conduct in Bayreuth in 1939. After World War II he resumed his international touring. He led a special series of all the Beethoven symphonies in 1947 with the London Philharmonic, brought the La Scala company to Britain in 1950, conducted 14 concerts in March, 1950 with the New York Philharmonic in Carnegie Hall, and conducted in several other American cities.
He was known for a precise ear and original interpretations. He had the elasticity of tempo characteristic of the Romantic era. This rhythmic freedom and his unusual interpretations caused him to be criticized in later years as eccentric, which bothered him. Ill health caused him to give up regular conducting in 1953, but not before he led one of the all-time classic opera recordings, Puccini's TOSCA, with Callas, di Stefano, and Gobbi. His conducting at the funeral of Toscanini on 18 February, 1957, was his last performance. He remained associated with La Scala as artistic superintendent from 1953 until his death.”
- Joseph Stevenson, allmusic.com
“One of the three potent Wagnerian heroic sopranos born within a half year of each other, Gertrud Grob-Prandl, according to numerous colleagues, outshone both Astrid Varney and Birgit Nilsson in sheer amplitude. Soprano Irmgard Seefried swore that ‘the walls shook’ when Grob-Prandl sang TURANDOT, and indeed, the great-voiced soprano achieved celebrity in Italy surpassing even that accorded her in her native Austria. Grob-Prandl's voice was not merely immense, it was firmly knit and true, with a fast vibrato that avoided any taint of the unwieldy. If her passagework in Mozart was slightly labored, her dramatic roles were all sung with lyricism as well as power. Working mostly with Papier Singer-Burian, Grob-Prandl found herself engaged by the Vienna Volksoper even before the end of her four-year academic program. After her 1939 début there as Santuzza, she was plunged into the hochdramatisch repertory, including Leonore, Elisabeth, Ariadne (heard by Strauss), and a lengthy list of large Italian roles, all sung in German. A hoped-for production of Strauss' DIE ÄGYPTISCHE HELENA under the composer's baton came to naught due to the widening war in Europe. In January 1944, Grob-Prandl joined the Vienna Staatsoper where she sang for nearly three decades, although from 1945 to 1947, she was the leading dramatic soprano in Zürich. With the Vienna Staatsoper destroyed by Allied bombs during WWII and so many sets and costumes reduced to powder, those operas for which a production could be pulled together were the ones to be heard following the cessation of hostilities. Thus, Grob-Prandl was heard in some 35 performances of DIE FLEDERMAUS as Rosalinde, a luxury seldom thereafter accorded her. In 1949, she made an appearance at Salzburg in the important but rather brief role of the First Lady. Grob-Prandl's first WALKÜRE Brünnhilde was sung in 1949 with Clemens Krauss as her conductor. With conductor Rudolf Moralt, she undertook the SIEGFRIED and GÖTTERDÄMMERUNG Brünnhildes that same year, finding in them both strength and lyric expression. The role of Isolde was introduced with the Vienna Staatsoper shortly before the company took its production from the Theater an der Wien to Brussels. Grob-Prandl's enormous success there resulted in her being made a Kammersängerin when the company returned to Vienna. In Italy, the soprano relished working with Victor de Sabata, whose TRISTAN UND ISOLDE she found graceful and poetic. Grob-Prandl appeared at Covent Garden in 1951 to sing TURANDOT in English with Sir John Barbirolli conducting. Her mastery of Turandot, in fact, most endeared her to Italian audiences who appreciated her stentorian sound and fiery top notes. Bayreuth eluded her, as did America, except for the 1953 season in San Francisco when she appeared as the WALKÜRE Brünnhilde, Isolde, and Amelia. With Nilsson later dominating the big roles in America, there was little call for Grob-Prandl's services. Aside from regular appearances in Italy and occasional guest performances in other European houses, Grob-Prandl primarily sang at her home theater in Vienna, retiring in 1972 while her voice was still in its prime.”
- Erik Eriksson, allmusic.com
“Dramatic tenor Max Lorenz usually made the most of a hard-edged and often intractable voice in singing the heroic rôles of Wagner and the high-lying lyric/dramatic ones of Strauss. A riveting stage figure (trim and athletic in appearance), he was, in his prime, perhaps the most credible visual exponent of Siegmund and the two Siegfrieds. His musicianship, likewise, was more reliable than that of most other singers of the big German rôles. Yet his voice was so unmalleable and his technique so unorthodox, that his performances required of the listener a considerable period of adjustment. Once the accommodation was made to a vocal mechanism that sounded as though its soft palate had been constructed of concrete, significant rewards awaited.
Following study in Berlin, Lorenz was awarded a prize in a competition sponsored by a city newspaper. He was subsequently engaged by Fritz Busch for Dresden and made his début there in 1927, singing the secondary rôle of Walter in TANNHÄUSER. His performance as Menelaus in Strauss' ÄGYPTISCHE HELENA, premiered in Dresden in 1928, prompted the composer to recommend Lorenz to Berlin where they were seeking a tenor for the same rôle. Lorenz left Dresden, joining the Berlin Staatsoper in 1933.
Meanwhile, he had made his début at the Metropolitan Opera in 1931. His Walter in DIE MEISTERSINGER was received as the work of a ‘serious artist and an intelligent musician’, though one afflicted with a ‘hard and unyielding tone quality’ that changed little during the ensuing two decades of Metropolitan appearances. Perhaps the continued presence of Lauritz Melchior made it impossible for New York audiences to adjust to the much less beautiful sound produced by Lorenz.
London heard Lorenz for the first time on-stage in 1934 when his Walter made a good impression. He returned to Covent Garden in 1937 for the title rôle in SIEGFRIED and was found too lightweight for the arduous rôle, but an ‘eminently cultivated and musicianly singer’ nonetheless. Bayreuth proved a more hospitable venue for Lorenz's unique art. For a decade beginning in 1933, the tenor sang Siegfried and Tristan to considerable acclaim and gained a reputation as a singing actor of exceptional ability. Recordings from the theater preserve his Siegfried, sung with rare intensity and rhythmic spring. From 1937, he was a regular at the Vienna Staatsoper, as well as a frequent visitor to other European houses. In the post-WWII era, he sang in Italy, performing both Wagner and Verdi, and appeared in both Mexico City and Buenos Aires. Salzburg heard him frequently, as did other festivals such as those at Amsterdam, Florence, and Zürich. In addition to his dramatic leading rôles, Lorenz took on contemporary parts in the premières of Gottfried Von Einem's DER PROZESS in 1953, Rolf Liebermann's PENELOPE in 1954, and as late as 1961, of Rudolf Wagner-Régeny's DAS BERGWERK ZU FALUN.”
- Erik Eriksson, allmusic.com