OP0298. PARSIFAL - Act III, recorded 1943, w.Knappertsbusch Cond. Berlin Opera Ensemble; Carl Hartmann, Hans Reinmar, Ludwig Weber & Elsa Larcen. (Italy) Documents LV 943. Very long out-of-print, Final Copy! - 8011662901064
“A PARSIFAL for the ages! Ever wonder what the big deal is about Wagner's PARSIFAL? Listen to this recording! First, the 1942 sound. 1942? A bit compressed sonically, but clear - amazing for the vintage. Better than many recorded 20 years later! Second, the 1942 singers: not names I'm familiar with (and mostly likely in the good graces of the Nazi leadership) but solid. Karl Hartmann, as Parsifal, has the slightly baritonal tenor that works perfectly for Wagner's heldentenor roles. Third, Knappertsbusch is amazing here; he really has the measure of this work. The downside: Act III only! Try this recording - you'll become a PARSIFAL fan!”
- Ron Meyers, 27 March, 2013
"The conductor Hans Knappertsbusch had an unmatched way with Wagner's PARSIFAL. I heard Knappertsbusch conduct PARSIFAL at Bayreuth, but I never saw him there. At Bayreuth, the sunken orchestra pit masks both conductor and orchestra, and after PARSIFAL there are no curtain calls.
Knappertsbusch is legendary today as one of the last Teutonic musical mystics, conductors who protracted Wagner's ruminations to extreme length but sustained a solemn rituality that brisker modern maestros miss. Knappertsbusch's gravity was enlivened by an intuitive sense of drama. Famous for his lack of interest in rehearsals (‘You know the work, I know the work - till tonight then’, he once said, dismissing an orchestra early), he responded to the music as the occasion inspired him and swept his players along.
No opera was closer to him than PARSIFAL. Although the facts are unclear, it was apparently the first work he ever conducted in public, and definitely the last. In between came a youthful apprenticeship with Hans Richter and Siegfried Wagner at Bayreuth, countless performances and, finally, under the most emotionally charged circumstances imaginable, the chance to lead it at Bayreuth. But because of his lack of success in the Nazi era, Knappertsbusch was the preeminent choice when the Allies finally allowed Bayreuth, which had become a potent symbol of Nazi ideology, to reopen in 1951.
In all, this Bayreuth account is a magisterial statement of the score, never surpassed on records. It reduces the 1943 version of Act III to merely historical status, however fascinating, Weber in more youthfully firm (but less affectingly fragile) voice, and a Parsifal and Amfortas (Carl Hartmann and Hans Reinmar)."
- John Rockwell, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 11 July, 1993