OP2040. CAPRICCIO, recorded 1958, w.Sawallisch Cond. Philharmonia Orch.; Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Eberhard Wächter, Nicolai Gedda, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Hans Hotter (CREATOR) & Christa Ludwig. (Germany) 2-Naxos 8.112034/35. Transfers by Mark Obert-Thorn. - 636943203477
“Wolfgang Sawallisch, one of the last of the old-school German conductors, who led the Philadelphia Orchestra for nearly a decade and the Bavarian State Opera in Munich for two decades before that, embodied the German type of the ‘Kapellmeister’ in the best sense: a man steeped in music, who knew every note of every score he conducted (often from memory), who was a supportive accompanist as well as an informed interpreter and who understood how to train, develop and lead an orchestra. Never flashy, even somewhat understated, he was, at his best, insightful and illuminating.
While Mr. Sawallisch was renowned throughout Europe, he might have remained little known to American audiences had the Philadelphia Orchestra not tapped him to take over as music director in 1993. When he arrived at age 70, he underwent a veritable renaissance, evidently enjoying a new freedom, both artistic and political — far from the political squabbling that had increasingly overshadowed his last years in Munich. ‘The last 10 years, with the Philadelphia Orchestra’, he said in 2006, ‘were really the top years of my symphonic life’. His time in Philadelphia was therefore a particularly happy ending to his career. Against some expectations, the reserved, intensely private German thrived in America, and the orchestra responded warmly to him.”
- Anne Midgette, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 24 Feb., 2013
“Dame Schwarzkopf (1915-2006) was a Flower Maiden in Wagner's PARSIFAL in her opera début. As the Marschallin in Strauss' DER ROSENKAVALIER she made history....she possessed not only an unmistakable timbre, but also a bewitching beauty.”
“Christa Ludwig was one of the most admired mezzo-sopranos of her generation, with a wide repertoire of both lieder and opera. She brought a fine sense of musicianship as well as drama to her performances. Her rôles ranged from Dorabella in COSÌ FAN TUTTE to Brangane in TRISTAN UND ISOLDE and Clytemnestra in ELEKTRA, and she was the creator of the role of Claire in Gottfried von Einem's BESUCH DER ALTEN DAME. Her technique and upper register were solid enough to let her sing the Marschallin in DER ROSENKAVALIER and the Dyer's Wife in DIE FRAU OHNE SCHATTEN, parts almost exclusively sung by sopranos -- though she did retreat from plans to sing Isolde and Brünnhilde. She was also a noted lieder performer, especially of Mahler.
She made her operatic début as Prince Orlofsky in Strauss' DIE FLEDERMAUS in 1946, at the Frankfurt State Opera, where she was a member of the company until 1952. She then moved to Darmstadt to study acting with the director Gustav Sellner. After two years, she and her mother (who was still teaching her) moved to Hanover, where she began to sing leading rôles such as Carmen, Ortrud, and Kundry. Her Salzburg début was in 1954 as Cherubino, and followed by her 1955 début in the same rôle at the Vienna State Opera, at the invitation of Karl Böhm, where she sang for more than 30 years. In 1957, she sang with Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, who encouraged her husband Walter Legge, the famous producer, to sign Ludwig with EMI records. Ludwig's United States operatic début was in 1959 in Chicago, as Dorabella. In the 1970s, she went through a vocal crisis due to menopause, and she took some of the most demanding rôles out of her repertoire and began to give more attention to songs. Again she challenged the typical views of repertoire, and sang material, such as WINTERREISE, that is most often associated with male voices, especially baritones. Working with Leonard Bernstein, she developed a special affection for Mahler (whose music Bernstein championed when Mahler was relatively obscure.)”
- Anne Feeney, allmusic.com
“Christa Ludwig is the Lotte Lehmann of her generation.”
- Donal Henahan, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 22 March, 1990