OP2965. TANNHAÜSER - Abridged , recorded 1930 (Complete, as recorded), w.Karl Elmendorff Cond. Bayreuth Festival Ensemble; Ivar Andrésen, Herbert Janssen, Sigismund Pilinszky, Joachim Sattler, Maria Müller, Erna Berger, etc. (Canada) 2–St Laurent Studio YSL 78-233. Transfers by Yves St Laurent.
“Karl Elmendorff was a German conductor whose career was almost exclusively tied to the opera house. Elmendorff was a prominent conductor who led major performances at some of the most prestigious venues, including at the Bayreuth Festival, the Dresden State Opera, Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Bavarian State Opera, and others. Critically, Elmendorff is generally viewed as a seasoned master of a broad repertory largely of German, Italian, and French opera; he was particularly known for his incisive interpretations of Wagner's operas. Elmendorff's efforts to promote German opera in Italy and Italian opera in Germany helped create a climate of reciprocal pursuit in the operatic traditions of both countries.
Karl Elmendorff was born in Düsseldorf, Germany, on 25 October, 1891. From 1913-16 he studied conducting at the Hochschule für Musik Köln under Hermann Abendroth and Fritz Steinbach. In 1916 Elmendorff débuted at the Düsseldorf Opera, and he continued to regularly conduct there until 1920. He served as first conductor at the Bavarian State Opera (1925-1932) under music director Hans Knappertsbusch, and during this time he also conducted at the Berlin State Opera. He also served as the music director at the National Theater Mannheim from 1935-1942. Meanwhile, he was occupied during his summers: from his 1927 Bayreuth début (Wagner's TRISTAN UND ISOLDE), Elmendorff was a regular at the Bayreuth Festival until 1942.
Elmendorff served at the Dresden State Opera from 1942, but returned to the posts he held with the Kassel Staatstheater and Hessische Staatstheater from 1948-1956. He freelanced in his remaining years, appearing at opera houses throughout Europe, including La Scala.”
- Robert Cummings, allmusic.com
“After studying law and serving as an officer in World War I, Janssen studied with Oskar Daniel in Berlin and made his late début at the Berlin State Opera in 1922 as Herod in Schreker’s DER SCHATZGRÄBER. He remained with the company until 1938 where he was very successful not only in Wagner but also in Verdi and French operas. He also appeared as Orest and Prince Igor. Guest appearances followed in Vienna and Buenos Aires. He was regarded as the outstanding exponent of the lighter Wagnerian baritone parts (Kurwenal, Wolfram, Amfortas, Gunther, Telramund, Kothner, Donner, Heerrufer) and appeared at Covent Garden (1926 - 1939) and Bayreuth (1930 - 1937). The Nazi regime caused him to leave Germany (1938). He made his début at the Philadelphia Opera in 1939 (as Wotan in SIEGFRIED!). He was immediately engaged at the Met and remained there from 1939 to 1952. He was a frequent guest at all major American opera houses. After Friedrich Schorr’s retirement in 1943 he reluctantly took over the heavier rôles of Wotan and Hans Sachs, but they did not suit his voice. He considered the loss of vocal refinement and darkening of his famous upper tones. Herbert Janssen had always been a favorite recitalist and conquered a new generation of concertgoers, when he reappeared in London as a Lieder singer after World War II. He often stated that he would have preferred to sing Italian operas; he loved Verdi! At the end of his career he became a vocal coach.
Janssen’s voice carried a depth of feeling and it was of dramatic and individual character. He is famous for his Wagner recordings and they belong to his greatest achievements. His lieder recordings are true treasures!”
- Andrea Shum-Binder, subito-cantabile
"[Andrésen’s] voice was as black as coal, strong as steel, and steady as a rock, with plenty of projecting power to spare. His characterizations were influenced by a strong spiritual element that gave him dignity and philosophical insight into the text….This is Wagnerian singing at its best."
- Charles H. Parsons, AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE, Sept./Oct., 2006
“Maria Müller was born in Terezín, Bohemia. She studied in Vienna with Erik Schmedes, and débuted in Linz in 1919 as Elsa in Lohengrin. She also sang at the Deutsches Theater in Prague 1921-1923 and at the Staatsoper, Munich in 1923-1924.
On 21 January 1925, she made her début at the Metropolitan Opera in New York as Sieglinde in DIE WALKÜRE. The next day, Olin Downes wrote in The New York Times: ‘young Czech soprano .. was warmly welcomed. She has a fresh and youthful voice, a little small for the demands of her role, much grace and sincerity as an actress. Not often is the figure of Sieglinde so human, so tender and so appealing to the beholder’. The same year she sang Donna Elvira in DON GIOVANNI. She sang a total of 196 performances at the Metropolitan Opera between 1925 and 1935.
In 1930-1939, she was a regular in Bayreuth. Some of her major roles were Eva in DIE MEISTERSINGER VON NÜRNBERG in 1933, plus Sieglinde and Elsa in 1936. The New York Herald Tribune wrote in 1936 from Bayreuth: ‘Müller's voice is fresher and more beautiful then when she was at the Metropolitan’.
At Salzburg, she appeared as Eurydice (1931), Reiza (1933) and Donna Elvira (1934). She made her Covent Garden début as Eva in 1934, and sang Sieglinde in the 1937 Ring Cycles. Her large repertory included the title roles in DIE AGYPTISCHE HELENA, JENUFA and Gluck’s IPHIGENIE EN TAURIDE, Pamina, Tosca and Marguerite. Müller possessed a warm, vibrant voice and sang with a rare purity of tone.
After World War II she retired to live at Bayreuth, where she died in 1958.”
“Each of these disks, from Canadian engineer Yves St Laurent… [feature] St Laurent's natural transfer – made without filtering, like all his dubbings – it is easy to listen to, despite the surface noise.”
- Tully Potter, CLASSICAL RECORD QUARTERLY, Summer, 2011