OP2060. DIE WALKÜRE, Live Performance, 23 Sept., 1959, w.Konwitschny Cond. Royal Opera House Ensemble; Hans Hotter, Amy Shuard, Astrid Varnay, Ramón Vinay, Kurt Böhme, etc. (E.U.) 3-Walhall 0316. - 4035122653168
“Franz Konwitschny (1901-62) was a large and rotund fellow, a fine musician who is less known internationally than he should have been, mostly because he rarely ventured outside the communist controlled east European countries. He was for many years director of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, and his recordings with them include a fine stereo set of the Beethoven symphonies. Actually, he was a powerful Beethoven conductor, and his Eroica with the Staatskapelle Dresden is surely among the best of the 20th Century. He was a fine opera conductor also, and made excellent recordings of Wagner’s FLYING DUTCHMAN, TANNHÄUSER and TRISTAN."
- John P. McKelvey, AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE, May/June, 2012
”Almost forgotten a generation after his death, Franz Konwitschny, director of both the Gewandhaus Orchestra in Leipzig and the Berlin State Opera from 1949 until his death in 1962, was much the finest and by far the most successful East German conductor of his time. Konwitschny didn't seek to match the glamour of Herbert von Karajan, his West German opposite; he was interested in something else entirely. Born in 1901 at the height of German romantic idealism, Konwitschny came of age in the milieu of post-War modernism, and in his maturity the one influence tempered the other so that the classic Konwitschny performances were clean and lucid but enormously concentrated and unbearably intense. For latter-day [listeners] who know best Karajan's more charismatic recordings, Konwitschny…will clear the mind, cleanse the palette and sooth the spirit.”
- James Leonard, allmusic.com
"The dramatic soprano Astrid Varnay (1918–2006) was born into an operatic family: her mother was a coloratura soprano and her father a spinto tenor. The year in which she was born they founded the Opera Comique Theatre in Kristiania, Sweden, although they were both born in Hungary, and they managed it until 1921.The family then moved to Argentina and later to New York, where her father died in 1924. Her mother subsequently remarried another tenor, and the young Astrid, after studying to be a pianist, decided at the age of eighteen to become a singer. She worked intensively, first with her mother and then with the Metropolitan Opera conductor and coach Hermann Weigert, whom she later married. She made her sensational stage début at the Metropolitan in 1941, substituting at short notice for Lotte Lehmann as Sieglinde in Die Walküre with no rehearsal. After this triumph, six days later she replaced Helen Traubel in the same opera as Brünnhilde, and her operatic career was effectively launched. She made her Covent Garden début in 1948 and, at the suggestion of Kirsten Flagstad, her Bayreuth Festival début in 1951. She sang every year at Bayreuth for the next seventeen years and at the Met until 1956, when she left following a disagreement with Rudolf Bing. She henceforth concentrated her career on Germany where she was revered, living in Munich. She moved from the dramatic soprano repertoire into that for mezzo-soprano in 1969, and during the 1980s into character parts. She made her last appearance in Munich in 1995, almost fifty-five years after her Metropolitan début. Her brilliant career is well documented in both commercial and unofficial sound recordings."
- David Patmore
"Chilean-born Ramón Vinay began his operatic career as a baritone (Mexico City, 1938), singing many of the major baritone roles…, but after study with tenor René Maison, he began a second career as a tenor (Mexico City, 1943), and after a long, distinguished career as a tenor, returned to the baritone repertoire in the 1960s, retiring in 1969 with a final Iago. He was most noted for tenor roles requiring great heft and power….His services were in demand everywhere."
- Charles H. Parsons, AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE, May/June, 2006