C1873. OTMAR SUITNER Cond. NHK S.O.: Nozze - Overture (Mozart); Der Freischütz - Overture (von Weber); Tannhäuser - Overture, Tristan - Prelude & Liebestod (both Wagner); 'Pastorale' Symphony #6 in F (Beethoven). (Canada) 2-St Laurent Studio YSL T-1157, Live Performance, 25 Dec., 1971, Tokyo. Transfers by Yves St Laurent.
"Otmar Suitner was one of the last survivors of the old Kapellmeister tradition, learning his crafts as he made his way up the professional ladder in slow and steady stages, rather than the catapult-to-stardom system that deposits young conductors before the public these days. Eventually, Suitner's name was to become a frequent one on recordings, but the fact that he spent most of his working life in the former East Germany meant he was not as familiar a figure on the international scene as his abilities deserve....under the tutelage of the eminent Clemens Krauss, Suitner's first professional position came quickly, in 1942, as ballet répéiteur for the Tiroler Landestheater. The job allowed him to take to the podium occasionally, although for the years after 1944 he was active mainly as a concert pianist. His second post, in 1952, brought more responsibility, as Musikdirektor in Remscheid, near Düsseldorf, whence five years later he progressed to the Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz as Generalmusikdirektor. With his next step, in 1960, he covered several rungs at once, with a move to Dresden as chief conductor of the Staatskapelle, a post that attracted some of major names in conducting: Suitner was preceded there by Fritz Busch, Karl Böhm and Rudolf Kempe, among others, and in 1964 he was succeeded by Kurt Sanderling.
His most prestigious position took the form of a two-part period as Generalmusikdirektor of the Staatsoper in East Berlin - perhaps the foremost musical job in the German Democratic Republic - first from 1964 to 1971 and then again from 1974 to 1990, although he was also busy as a guest conductor during his interregnum. Here his interpretations of Mozart, Wagner and Strauss were admired for their freshness, as was his handling of Italian repertoire - less predictably, perhaps, but then his mother was Italian. His friendship with the composer Paul Dessau was to result in the premieres of no fewer than three operas: PUNTILA in 1966, EINSTEIN in 1973 and LEONCE UND LENA in 1979 - the latter two documented in CD recordings.
Suitner also continued to appear in the West, not least at Bayreuth in the mid-1960s, the far West, as a guest conductor of the San Francisco Opera from 1969, and the Far East. Indeed, he was a frequent guest in Japan, especially with the NHK Symphony Orchestra in Tokyo, where he was made an honorary conductor in 1973. He was also professor of conducting at the Hochschule fur Musik und darstellende Kunst in Vienna from 1977 to 1988."
- Martin Anderson, THE INDEPENDENT, 19 February, 2010