OP2626. GÖTTERDÄMMERUNG, Live Performance, 2 Oct., 1959, w.Konwitschny Cond. Royal Opera House Ensemble;
Wolfgang Windgassen, Hermann Uhde, Gottlob Frick, Otakar Kraus, Astrid Varnay, Amy Shuard, etc. (E.U.) 4–Walhall 0368. - 4035122653678
“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 most important singer of the German Heldentenor repertory in the 1950s and 1960s, Wolfgang Windgassen employed his not-quite-heroic instrument, believable physique, and considerable musical intelligence to forge memorable performances on-stage and in the recording studio. Although his voice lacked the sensuous appeal of Melchior's or Völker's, it was never unattractive and never employed to obvious effect. Indeed, it conveyed a youthfulness that suited the young Siegfried especially well."
- Erik Eriksson, allmusic.com
“Hermann Uhde’s American mother was a student of the famous baritone Karl Scheidemantel. He was trained as a bass, by Philipp Kraus at the Opera School in Bremen, where he made his début as Titurel (1936). After engagements in Freiburg and Munich he appeared for the first time in baritone rôles at the Deutsches Theater im Haag in 1942. A prisoner-of-war from April 1945 to February 1946, he did not return to the stage until 1947. He subsequently appeared at the opera houses of Hamburg, Vienna and Munich where he became a member of the ensemble. He gained great success in rôles such as Mandryka, Gunther and Telramund, in which he was particularly admired. The artist was regularly invited to the Bayreuth Festival from 1951 to 1960 where he became one of its most important members, appearing as Holländer, Klingsor, Gunther, Donner, Wotan in RHEINGOLD, Telramund and Melot. He was also a guest at the Salzburg Festival and performed a superb Wozzeck at the Met (sung in English!) where he regularly appeared from 1955 to 1961 and again in 1964. He sang at the Grand Opéra Paris as well as at other European opera houses. He created several rôles, including Creon in Orff’s ANTIGONAE, the baritone rôles in Britten’s THE RAPE OF LUCRETIA and Wagner-Régeny’s DAS BERGWERK ZU FALUN. He died of a heart attack during a performance of Niels Viggo Bentzon’s FAUST III, at Copenhagen in 1965.”
- Andrea Shum-Binder, subito-cantabile
"The dramatic soprano Astrid Varnay 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