OP0301. DIE MEISTERSINGER Act III, recorded 1938, w.Böhm Cond. Dresden Staatsoper Ensemble; Torsten Ralf, Hans Hermann Nissen, Sven Nilsson, Eugen Fuchs, Margarethe Teschemacher, etc. [What a magnificent performance! Truly legendary!]; HANS HERMANN NISSEN: Songs & Operatic Arias; TORSTEN RALF: Operatic Arias. (Austria) 2-Preiser 89236. Very long out-of-print, Final Sealed Copy! - 717281892360
“This is a fascinating sound document from 1938. For its age, the balance and sound quality is very good and the cast is stunning with Hermann Nissen (who sang the role under Toscanini in Salzburg 1936) as Sachs. Torsten Ralf is a fresh voiced Walter and Teschemacher is a radiant and innocent Eva. Eugen Fuchs is a wonderful Beckmesser who avoids shouting the role. Naturally, under Böhm, the performance slips along at a fine pace and he knows how to structure the opera. One wishes that the rest of the opera had survived. This is a ‘must’ for Wagner fans and for lovers of opera performances of an earlier time.”
- Ned Ludd
"This recording, made in 1938 in Dresden, was the last major recording of Wagner to come out of Germany before the war. The conductor was Karl Böhm, who had been serving as the head of the Dresden opera since 1934, when he succeeded Fritz Busch (who had been driven into exile by the Nazis). When this recording was released by Victor, it was highly acclaimed by critics, who singled out the choral singing, conducting and recording quality for special praise."
"[Böhm had a] natural, essential music-making….the magical ease and naturalness of transition from one tempo to another, the human warmth, the humor, restrained pathos, the aristocratic and refined taste in final ritardandos and the incredible energy of the man."
- Walter Legge, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 5 Feb., 1995
“Karl Böhm was one of the greatest conductors of the twentieth century in the German tradition. He studied music as a child and continued to work and study in music while serving in the Austrian Army during World War I - and while completing a doctorate in law. He never had conducting lessons, but made close studies of the work of both Bruno Walter and Karl Muck.
In 1921 he was hired by the Bavarian State Opera in Munich, and then he became Generalmusikdirektor in both Darmstadt (1927) and Hamburg (1931-1933). He gained a reputation for his fine performances of Mozart, Wagner and Richard Strauss, as well as his championing of modern German music, including operas by Krenek and Berg. Böhm débuted in Vienna in 1933, leading Wagner's TRISTAN UND ISOLDE. In 1934 he became director of the Dresden State Opera, Richard Strauss's favorite theater. There, Böhm conducted premieres of Strauss's Die schweigsame Frau (1935) and Dafne (1938). He remained at the helm in Dresden through 1943, at which point he became director of the Vienna State Opera (1943-1945). Richard Strauss was not in official favor, and Joseph Goebbels banned any recognition of the great composer's 80th birthday in 1944. However, Böhm participated in a de facto observance, as a large number of Strauss' orchestral and operatic works ‘just happened’ to be played about the time of the birthday.
After the war, Böhm was forbidden to perform until he underwent ‘de-Nazificatio’, a procedure whereby prominent Austro-Germans were investigated for complicity in Nazi crimes. He was eventually cleared of any suspicion, and was permitted to resume work in 1947.
Böhm oversaw the German repertory at the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires (1950-1953), and again served as director of the Vienna State Opera (1954-1956). He débuted in the USA at the Metropolitan Opera with Mozart's DON GIOVANNI in 1957, and took prominent German orchestras and opera companies on tour. The Vienna Philharmonic bestowed on him the title ‘Ehrendirigent’, and he was proclaimed Generalmusikdirector of Austria. He left a legacy of many great recordings, including a complete Wagner RING cycle considered by many critics to be the best. While his Wagner and Strauss were sumptuously Romantic, his Mozart was scrupulously Classical in approach.”
- Joseph Stevenson, almusic.com