OP0186. DER FLIEGENDE HOLLÄNDER, Broadcast Performance, 1951, w.Schüchter Cond. NDR Ensemble; Hotter, Werth, Aldenhoff, Böhme, Krebs, etc. (E.U.) 2-Walhall 0038. Long out of print, Final Copy! - 4035122650389
"Hotter was far, far more than a Wagnerian....[he] sang Lieder at recitals and in the studio throughout his timeless career. All his interpretations evinced a care over matching text to music. Even in Wagner he gave a Lieder singer's attention to the words. In private he was a gentle giant, an engaging raconteur and an intelligent observer of the musical scene"
- Alan Blyth, GRAMOPHONE, March, 2004
"Of all the singers of the 20th century, the man whose voice and presence were most capable of conveying the essence of the archetypal father was bass-baritone Hans Hotter. Blessed with a huge, resonant instrument that could be scaled down to an intimate whisper, the man could sound invincible one minute and vulnerable the next. No matter what he sang, Hotter communicated a profundity and depth of spirit that seemed rooted in a primordial place of holiness and sagacity. If you can imagine a man whose voice could convincingly express the power of a God, the wisdom of a sage, and the humanity of an open-hearted mortal, you can begin to hear the sound of Hans Hotter in your head.
In the world of opera, Richard Wagner's Wotan, the God of Valhalla, is perhaps the greatest Daddy of them all. In DIE WALKÜRE, he has no choice but to punish his favorite daughter Brünnhilde for her sin of intervening in the affairs of mortals. But even as he puts his beloved daughter to sleep, protecting her with a ring of fire, he makes sure that love can dowse the flames and return her to life. It was the Wotan of Hans Hotter, more than of any other recorded singer, that most fully expressed the tortured godliness of this strangely mortal immortal.
At the same time as Hotter dominated the opera stage as Wotan, he became known as a supreme interpreter of German art song. With his voice pared down as necessary, Hotter's lieder interpretations evinced the same strength and surety that thundered through him when he strode across the stage carrying sword and shield."
- Jason Serinus
“Aldenhoff first appeared at the Bayreuth Festspielhaus in 1951 as Siegfried in DER RING DES NIBELUNGEN under both Knappertsbusch and Karajan, and returned there to repeat the rôle several times until 1957. He appeared in Bavarian State Opera Munich between 1950 and 1958 in operas by Weber and Verdi, and in Richard Strauss' DIE ÄGYPTISCHE HELENA, and sang Siegfried in GÖTTERDÄMMERUNG at Covent Garden in 1957. He made his Met début as Tannhäuser, and also appeared at La Scala, the Paris Opéra and the Opernhaus Zürich. Bernd Aldenhoff was not only one of the last heldentenors, but also one of the most interesting. Knappertsbusch called him the most ‘human heldentenor’ of his time. As an interpreter, Aldenhoff was, without a doubt, the most precise and sensitive Wagner tenor of his generation. He died in Munich on 8 October, 1959 at the peak of his career from food poisoning.
The dramatic soprano Astrid Varnay (1918–2006) was born into an operatic family: her mother was a coloratura soprano and her father a spinto tenor. The year in which she was born they founded the Opera Comique Theatre in Kristiania, Sweden, although they were both born in Hungary, and they managed it until 1921.The family then moved to Argentina and later to New York, where her father died in 1924. Her mother subsequently remarried another tenor, and the young Astrid, after studying to be a pianist, decided at the age of eighteen to become a singer. She worked intensively, first with her mother and then with the Metropolitan Opera conductor and coach Hermann Weigert, whom she later married. She made her sensational stage début at the Metropolitan in 1941, substituting at short notice for Lotte Lehmann as Sieglinde in Die Walküre with no rehearsal. After this triumph, six days later she replaced Helen Traubel in the same opera as Brünnhilde, and her operatic career was effectively launched. She made her Covent Garden début in 1948 and, at the suggestion of Kirsten Flagstad, her Bayreuth Festival début in 1951. She sang every year at Bayreuth for the next seventeen years and at the Met until 1956, when she left following a disagreement with Rudolf Bing. She henceforth concentrated her career on Germany where she was revered, living in Munich. She moved from the dramatic soprano repertoire into that for mezzo-soprano in 1969, and during the 1980s into character parts. She made her last appearance in Munich in 1995, almost fifty-five years after her Metropolitan début. Her brilliant career is well documented in both commercial and unofficial sound recordings."
- David Patmore
"Wilhelm Schüchter was one of those prodigiously talented German conductors who had the misfortune to live in a time filled with geniuses at the podium: Furtwängler, Walter, Abendroth, von Karajan, Krauss, Böhm, Knappertsbusch, Kempe, Schmidt-Isserstedt and Klemperer. In such company, he never had a chance to move into the forefront of his profession outside of Germany. Despite his lack of international success, however, Schï¿½chter managed to leave behind one major recording of LOHENGRIN that deserves to be a part of any serious Wagner collection.
Schüchter studied with Hermann Abendroth. He made his debut at the podium in Coburg in 1937, conducting CAVELLERIA RUSTICANA and PAGLIACCI. His first major appointment came that same year, as conductor in the opera house in Wurzburg, where he stayed for three years. In 1940, he took an appointed conductor at the opera house in Aachen, a post he held for two years, working under Herbert von Karajan. Two years later, he joined the Berlin State Opera.
Following the Allied victory and the reorganization of German cultural life, in 1947 Schüchter joined the North German Radio Orchestra as a conductor and deputy to Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt. His major recording career began soon after, principally for EMI during the late 78 rpm and early LP era.
His major activities and his most significant legacy, however, were in the operatic field. In 1953, Schüchter conducted EMI's first recording of a complete version of Wagner's LOHENGRIN with his North German Radio Orchestra and Rudolf Schock in the title role, Gottlob Frick as King Henry, Maud Cunitz as Elsa, and Josef Metternich as Friedrich. This performance remains one of the most finely crafted recordings of the opera ever laid down and is competitive with all subsequent stereo and digital recordings. The singing has a warmth and power that resounds more than 40 years later and the playing is extraordinary, a match for any orchestra in the world. Moreover, the sound -- despite being limited to mono -- is extraordinary for its era, being both rich and close.
Unfortunately, Schüchter never got to record another complete opera, eclipsed as he was outside of Germany by figures such as Karajan and Klemperer. His career in the concert hall was more successful; in 1958, he took a three-year appointment as the chief conductor of the NHK Symphony Orchestra in Tokyo, and after his return to Germany in 1962, he was made music director of Dortmund. It was in this post, in just three years, that Schüchter achieved fame in Germany, raising the musical standards in Dortmund so high that he was promoted in 1965 to artistic director and general manager of the Dortmund State Opera. He remained in this position for the rest of his life and was acclaimed for the excellence of the productions mounted by the company and its overall rise to prominence within Germany. His Wagnerian performances in particular were singled out for praise by critics.
Schüchter was among the first generation of conductors in Germany who understood the use of the orchestra in the studio and this is reflected in his recordings. In contrast to Wilhelm Furtwängler or Hans Knappertsbusch, he saw the intrinsic value of recording and he paid special attention to the spaciousness and opulence of the sound he achieved. When working with sympathetic producers and engineers, as on his LOHENGRIN, the results were extraordinary."
- Bruce Eder, allmusic.com