OP2902. DIE MEISTERSINGER, Live Performance, 22 Feb., 1936, w.Bodanzky Cond. Met Opera Ensemble; Friedrich Schorr, René Maison, Emanuel List, Eduard Habich, Elisabeth Rethberg, Karin Branzell, etc. (Canada) 3-Immortal Performances IPCD 1035. Restoration, re-creation & transfers by Richard Caniell. - 748252900005
"While Schorr was still pretty imposing in 1939, he’s even better here in 1936. His mellow voice...projects a kind of humane authority and the wisdom of experience . . . . Elisabeth Rethberg uses her beautiful lyric soprano to great effect—she’s a dream Eva....We get a good bit of Milton Cross’ post-act patter, which also ‘authenticates’ the performance as well as giving the broadcast atmosphere ....The 46-page booklet contains no libretto but does include a detailed plot synopsis and, as usual for this producer, profuse annotations."
- James Miller, FANFARE, May/June, 2014
“…the vocals are more natural…There is no doubt as to the improvements as an A/B comparison conclusively revealed. The Overture to act I in the Immortal Performances release is in far better sound than one would credit for 1936….Here, Schorr’s marvelously full yet focused voice seems perfectly in step with Wagner’s intentions, and in the new transfer one can really follow the perfectly sculpted phrases… His ‘Wahnmonolog’, too, is heard with new clarity. Detail is more immediately audible, without doubt, and altogether the experience is more comfortable.
Rethberg was one of the great Evas…and her scene with Sachs in the central act is gripping. Karin Branzell provides a lovely complement to her in the role of Madalene. Maison’s Walther sounds even more youthful, freed (to an extent) from some of the mists of time; his act III ‘Morgenlich leuchtend’ is magnificent, the voice still confident and heroic at this late stage in the piece.
The sound copes better with the louder moments overall, enabling the work’s final choral paean to Holy German Art to make a deeper impression on the listener…this 1936 MEISTERSINGER, with its outstanding cast, is a ‘must’ for all serious Wagnerians, and this incarnation is now beyond doubt the one to have.”
- Colin Clarke, FANFARE, May/June, 2014
“In company with Chaliapin’s Boris, Richard Mayr’s Baron Ochs and Pinza’s Don Giovanni, Schorr’s Hans Sachs is one of the unmatched portrayals of the century….Schorr rings all the changes in Sachs’ character in the second act. He begins with a forthright ‘Wie duftet doch der Flieder’, the ‘Lenzes Gebot’ section voiced with intimacy and sentiment and crowned by a lovely dolcissimo tone at ‘Dem Vogel…. No tonal roughness disturbs the warm humanity of his cobbler poet.
Schorr completely dominates the final act, introducing a rich sonority into his low voice in the ‘Wahn’ monologue (a vivid contrast to the perfect mezza voce employed at ‘Ein Kobold’). His conversational manner as he teaches Walther is natural, and in the Beckmessser scene he seems genuinely amused – a delightful shine illumines his voice. Throughout the act, Schorr’s instrument takes on added color and vibrancy….he never falters in his full vocal paean to German art which brings the opera to a close – (‘Habt Acht!’ is sung with a dark, powerful tone). How willingly one joins the guilds and populace in congratulating Sachs-Schorr.
Rethberg is in lovely voice throughout; the role lies for the most part in her middle range, which on this afternoon is mellow and natural in color with no hint of veiled tone or insecurity of pitch. Eva’s finest moments occur in the final act, and here Rethberg is splendid, her outburst to Sachs flooding forth full of passion and love….She leads the quintet with firm, quiet tones devoid of sentimentality. The scenes between Rethberg and Schorr are notable for vocal poise and dramatic conviviality, the seeming spontaneous interplay born of long acquaintance and self-confident artistry.
Maison is a master of the long phrase and conducts Walther’s line with surety….”
- Paul Jackson, SATURDAY AFTERNOONS AT THE OLD MET, pp.108 & 110
“For MEISTERSINGER there was Sachs of Schorr and Eva of Rethberg. They set standards for all time in those roles. Schorr had a noble bearing and a kind of wisdom and humanity in his singing that nobody else in my time has been able to duplicate. Rethberg’s silvery voice, so perfectly placed, so easily produced, imbued with an older tradition, so intense and, at the same time, vocally relaxed, was unique.”
- Harold C. Schonberg, 'Backward Times', THE NEW YORK TIMES, 1994
“Now, given a chance to re-approach this MEISTERSINGER broadcast with a new restoration process, I believe the tonal spectrum and vocal presence and range is now much improved over our previous [Guild] edition, sufficient to justify this re-issue. Given this, the performance values shine even more brightly, triumphing over the recording’s limitations. With a little faith and imagination, you may find yourself, as I did, traveling back in time, to sit before a radio in February 1936 listening to Friedrich Schorr and Elisabeth Rethberg sing in a realization of DIE MEISTERSINGER that will thereafter be lauded as ‘one of the great ones’, from the early history of broadcasts from the Old Met.”
- Richard Caniell, Program Notes