OP2767. FIDELIO - Excerpts, Live Performance, 14 Dec., 1948, Hamburg, w.Schmidt-Isserstedt Cond. NDR Ensemble; Anders, Wegner, Alexander Welitsch, Margot Guilleaume, etc. (Germany) Gebhardt 0025. Long out-of-print, final copies! - 4035122000252
“Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt is one of those conductors whose work was renowned far more among the ranks of his peers (and of very serious listeners) than among the general classical audiences of his era. A believer in strict rhythmic precision, transparent orchestral textures, and the avoidance of excessive mannerisms, Schmidt-Isserstedt and his work were loved by fellow musicians and listeners committed enough to seek it out, eclipsed as it often was by his more flamboyant and well-known rivals. It is a measure of his place in the pantheon of early and middle twentieth century conductors that, while only two or three of his recordings are represented on CDs from major labels, dozens of his performances appear on private collectors labels.
Schmidt-Isserstedt was born in Berlin in 1900 and studied music in Berlin at the university. Although his interest in music extended into modern and contemporary works, his first love was Mozart and he authored a dissertation on the Italian influences in Mozart's early operas. He conducted in different theaters and also composed music during the earlier part of his career, including several orchestral works, Lieder, chamber pieces, and one opera (HASSAN GEWINNT), which was performed for the first time in 1928. During the 1930s, he began recording regularly, most notably in a series of concerti with the legendary violin virtuoso Georg Kulenkampff, in which he conducted the Berlin Philharmonic. Schmidt-Isserstedt remained in Germany during the period of the Nazi regime, and in 1935 was appointed principal Kappelmeister at the Hamburg State Opera. He became the opera director at the Deutsche Oper in Berlin in 1943 and the company's general music director in 1944.
Schmidt-Isserstedt was among the less-controversial musicians working in Germany during the war, and his work and career continued virtually uninterrupted by the Allied victory and the fall of the Nazi regime in 1945. He founded the North German Radio (or NDR) Symphony Orchestra in Hamburg during 1945, which he directed until his retirement in 1971. Schmidt-Isserstedt successfully took the NDR Symphony Orchestra on tour in Europe, the Soviet Union, and the United States during the 1950s. He also began recording regularly for the British Decca/London label with several different orchestras, including the Vienna Philharmonic. From 1955 until 1964, he was also the principal conductor of the Stockholm Philharmonic and made appearances as a guest conductor with more than 100 orchestras around the world, in all of the world's major cities, and with the Glyndebourne Opera (THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO, 1958) and Covent Garden (TRISTAN UND ISOLDE, 1962). During this period, he was also a fervent advocate for the music of Bartók, Stravinsky, and Hindemith.
Schmidt-Isserstedt was popular throughout Europe and his recordings were usually more easily available there than in the United States, where he was most familiar to a cadre of serious listeners. His Beethoven symphonic cycle with the Vienna Philharmonic (which featured some of the most consistently fine and inspired playing in the V.P.O.'s history), however, was readily available in the American catalog for many years and is still highly regarded. His recording of the 9th Symphony, in particular, is still singled out for critical praise. For many years, it was considered one of the two or three finest available on LP (back in the 1970s, if you found this record in someone's collection, you could be certain that they really knew their music and cared about it). His recordings of the Mozart operas, most notably IDOMENEO (his last, released in 1972) and LA FINTA GIARDINIERA (recorded in the then-extant German translation, as DIE GARTNERIN AUS LIEBE) remain among the choicest performances of these works.
Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt never courted publicity or glory in the way that his contemporaries, such as Wilhelm Furtwängler or younger rivals like Herbert von Karajan, did. As a result, his was never a household name. Working quietly, however, and building an orchestra and a postwar reputation from the ground up, he ended up leaving behind a handful of recordings whose worth speaks loudly, even in the digital era, some decades after his death.”
- Bruce Eder, allmusic.com
“Peter Anders was a German operatic tenor who sang a wide range of parts in the German, Italian, and French repertories. He began by singing lyric roles and later undertook dramatic roles with equal success.
Anders was born in Essen and studied at the Berlin Music Academy with Ernst Grenzebach, and later privately with Lula Mysz-Gmeiner, whose daughter Susanne he married. In 1931, he appeared in Berlin in LA BELLE HÉLÈNE, and made his operatic début the following year in Heidelberg, as Jacquino in FIDELIO. Anders sang in Darmstadt (1933–35), Cologne (1935–36), Hannover (1937–38), and then at the Munich State Opera (1938–40), where he took part in the creation of Richard Strauss' FRIEDENSTAG. He returned next to Berlin and sang at the Berlin State Opera from 1940 until 1948. His repertory at that time included lyric roles such as Belmonte, Tamino, Lyonel, Hans, Hoffmann, Leukippos, Alfredo and Rodolfo. Beginning in 1949, Anders undertook such heavier roles as Florestan, Max, Tannhäuser, Lohengrin, Walther, Siegmund, Radames, Otello, with equal success.
Anders made a few guest appearances at the Royal Opera House in London, the La Monnaie in Brussels and the San Carlo in Naples, as well as appearing at the Glyndebourne Festival. Anders sang not only an impressive range of operatic roles but also appeared in several operetta parts. He performed regularly on German radio and in concert and was also active in oratorio and lieder recitals.
He became a favorite of Adolf Hitler's regime and was not required to serve in the armed forces during the Second World War - instead he entertained German troops and participated in propaganda events. These activities tainted his reputation in the post-war world. While at the height of his career, Anders died in a car accident in Hamburg at the age of 46.”
- Zillah Dorset Akron