OP2665. DIE MEISTERSINGER - Excerpts, Live Performance, 22 May 1928, w.Leo Blech Cond.Berlin Staatsoper; Friedrich Schorr, Emanuel List, Leo Schützendorf, Robert Hutt, Carl Jöken, Elfriede Marherr-Wagner & Lydia Kindermann; Robert Hutt: 3 solo renditions, recorded 1919; Blech, Collingwood, Coates, Ljungberg, Schumann, Rethberg, Melchior, Laubenthal, Schorr,etc.: various renditions, recorded 1926-31. (England) 2-Symposium 1232/33. Final copy! - 760411232024
During the 1927-28 concert season, recordings were made at the Berlin State Opera during public performances of three works: La Bohème, Der Rosenkavalier and Die Meistersinger. For the last of the three, two performances were recorded. Fourteen sides were taken down on April 29th, 1928, while another 32 sides (many of them duplicating the earlier recorded portions) were waxed on May 22nd at the performance given in honor of Wagners 115th birthday. From these, the 20 sides of the issued set were chosen. There was no thought at the time of recording the work complete. In selecting which excerpts to release, the focus seemed to be on portions which were not already available or likely to be available as single disc releases. Thus, we have no Preludes, nor either of Sachs monologues. Instead, we have David explaining the song rules to Walther and Pogner discussing his doubts with Eva, as well as scenes which work better in the unedited long-form of an actual performance, like the extended Schusterlied scene from Act 2. We do have the finale, which the same performers had already recorded in the studio the previous year; but one couldnt imagine ending the set without it. The overriding raison dêtre for the recording, however, was the preservation of Friedrich Schorrs portrayal of Sachs, which was already considered in a class by itself.
- Mark Obert-Thorn
any recorded document of Wagner in performance dating from before the Nazi period is exceptionally valuable. Among the few such extant recordings, one of the most extraordinary is the live, 1928 performance from the Berlin State Opera of DIE MEISTERSINGER von NURNBERG - allegedly Hitler's favorite opera
.This is the earliest known in-concert electrical recording made in Europe outside of the U.K., recorded in the Theater Unter den Linden in Berlin by studio technicians and therefore not utilizing radio as a technological midwife. The sound, while somewhat distant and not of consistent volume, is quite good for its era, but the performance is something memorable; it is led by Leo Blech and stars legendary bass-baritone Friedrich Schorr, believed by many to have owned the role of Hans Sachs, perhaps for all time. He is joined by tenor Robert Hutt, a Heldentenor who has a light lyric top end, sounding almost like an Italian tenor; Hutt sings with such gusto and joie de vivre it's contagious. Curiously, the whole production sounds Italian, with brisk tempi and a lightness of tread uncommon to any Wagner opera; DIE MEISTERSINGER is, after all, a comedy.
These [excerpts] start and end seemingly at random points, and all of them taken together only work out to about 72 minutes, not even a third of DDIE MEISTERSINGER's length
.the Symposium label has used this recording as a kind of base element in a complete MEISTERSINGER filled out with a variety of other recordings, even including some acousticals. Although the 1928 Berlin State Opera recording of DIE MEISTERSINGER consists of only remnants of an opera performance, it still adds up to a lot, and there is a certain value to hearing this recording as a contiguous whole rather than being momentarily preempted by foreign material
.this should be considered essential listening.
- Uncle Dave Lewis, allmusic.com
Friedrich Schorr set the standard for Wagnerian heldenbariton singing for the two decades between 1920 and 1940. His mahogany-colored bass-baritone may have lacked ultimate freedom in the highest reaches of the great heroic roles, but its beautiful, firmly knit timbre and absolute steadiness (and the singer's mastery of legato) made mockery of the notion that Wagner must be barked and not sung. Whether in the reflective moments of Hans Sachs, Vanderdecken's despair or Wotan's angry outbursts, his control of dynamics and clarity of utterance made his characterizations both riveting and complete. In an age of great Wagnerian singing, he stood at the very forefront.
Schorr was heard by the intendent of the Graz Opera who invited him to make his début in that venue. At the age of 23 and having disclosed nothing about the performance to his parents, the young singer sang the exacting role of Wotan. Armed with the positive reviews, Schorr traveled to Vienna to show his father the contract that had been his reward. The budding heldenbariton was given his father's blessing to become a professional singer and his career began in the deepest waters of the bass-baritone repertory.
Schorr remained at Graz from 1911 to 1916, appearing often as a guest at the Vienna Opera where he quickly became a favorite with its discerning public. From 1916 to 1918, he was a member of Prague's National Theatre, after which he spent five years at Cologne. From 1923 to 1932 (and the rise of Hitler), Schorr was a leading artist in Berlin not only in the Wagnerian wing, but in such other roles as Busoni's FAUST, Cardinal Borromeo in Pfitzner's PALESTRINA, and Barak in Strauss' DIE FRAU OHNE SCHATTEN. During this same period, beginning in 1925, Schorr was a frequent performer at the Bayreuth Festival. Even though his being a Jew was tolerated by Nazis prior to their ascension to power, Schorr ended his affiliation with Bayreuth in the same year he took leave of Berlin.
Meanwhile, Schorr visited the United States in 1924 with a company presenting a season of Wagner operas at the Manhattan Opera House. Metropolitan Opera manager Giulio Gatti-Casazza heard him and offered a contract, beginning an association that lasted until the singer's retirement in 1943. Following his début on 14 February as Wolfram, Schorr offered his Hans Sachs, described by Lawrence Gilman as a truly great performance and similarly praised by the other New York critics. London, too, benefited from Schorr's artistry in the years from 1924 to the outbreak of WWII. After eliciting enthusiasm for the RHEINGOLD Wotan which served as his début, he roused the London audience to fervent applause for his superlative WALKÜRE Wotan, both wrathful and ruminative, sung throughout with the utmost beauty of tone.
Though no complete role of his was recorded during his prime, Schorr left an estimable legacy of Wagnerian excerpts, performed with such other titans as Frida Leider and Lauritz Melchior. His single contribution to Walter Legge's Hugo Wolf Society Lieder recording series, Prometheus (performed in the orchestral version), would alone secure Schorr's reputation among the immortals.
- Erik Eriksson, allmusic.com