OP0352. PARSIFAL, Live Performance, 29 March, 1956, Roma, w.Jochum Cond. RAI Ensemble, Roma; Wolfgang Windgassen, Ferdinand Frantz, Ludwig Weber, Alois Pernerstorfer, Hermann Uhde, Martha Mödl, etc. (Slovenia) 4-Living Stage 4035169. Long out-of-print, final copies! - 3830025741803
“The most important singer of the German Heldentenor repertory in the 1950s and 1960s, Wolfgang Windgassen employed his not-quite-heroic instrument, believable physique, and considerable musical intelligence to forge memorable performances on-stage and in the recording studio.
The tenor made his début as Alvaro in LA FORZA DEL DESTINO at Pforzheim in 1941. In 1945, he joined the Württembergisches Staatstheater in Stuttgart, steadily moving from lyric rôles to more heroic parts; he remained a singer there until 1972. Upon making his début in the first postwar season at Bayreuth in 1951, he came to international attention. His Parsifal, growing from uncomprehending innocence to maturity and service, was a moving portrayal and was recorded live by Decca Records. Windgassen became indispensable at the Bayreuth Festival, excelling as Lohengrin, the two Siegfrieds, Tannhäuser, and Tristan. There, he earned the respect and devotion of the three leading dramatic sopranos of the age: Martha Mödl, Astrid Varnay, and Birgit Nilsson. Elsewhere, Windgassen made positive impressions at La Scala (where he débuted as Florestan in 1952), Paris (Parsifal in 1954), and Covent Garden, where he appeared as Tristan in 1954. Although regarded by English critics as somewhat light of voice for Wagner's heaviest tenor rôles, his lyric expression and dramatic aptness were wholly admired. The Metropolitan Opera briefly heard him as Siegmund beginning in January 1957 and as Siegfried. Windgassen did not return to America until 1970, when he sang Tristan to the Isolde of Nilsson at San Francisco. Beginning that same year, he turned to stage direction. Among Windgassen's finest recordings are his Bayreuth PARSIFAL, captured with a superb cast under Knappertsbusch's direction, his 1954 Bayreuth LOHENGRIN under Jochum, his SIEGFRIEDs under both Böhm at Bayreuth and in the studio with Solti, and his Bayreuth TRISTAN with Böhm conducting and Nilsson as his Isolde.”
- Erik Eriksson, allmusic.com
“Hermann Uhde’s American mother was a student of the famous baritone Karl Scheidemantel. He was trained as a bass, by Philipp Kraus at the Opera School in Bremen, where he made his début as Titurel (1936). After engagements in Freiburg and Munich he appeared for the first time in baritone rôles at the Deutsches Theater im Haag in 1942. A prisoner-of-war from April 1945 to February 1946, he did not return to the stage until 1947. He subsequently appeared at the opera houses of Hamburg, Vienna and Munich where he became a member of the ensemble. He gained great success in rôles such as Mandryka, Gunther and Telramund, in which he was particularly admired. The artist was regularly invited to the Bayreuth Festival from 1951 to 1960 where he became one of its most important members, appearing as Holländer, Klingsor, Gunther, Donner, Wotan in RHEINGOLD, Telramund and Melot. He was also a guest at the Salzburg Festival and performed a superb Wozzeck at the Met (sung in English!) where he regularly appeared from 1955 to 1961 and again in 1964. He sang at the Grand Opéra Paris as well as at other European opera houses. He created several rôles, including Creon in Orff’s ANTIGONAE, the baritone rôles in Britten’s THE RAPE OF LUCRETIA and Wagner-Régeny’s DAS BERGWERK ZU FALUN. He died of a heart attack during a performance of Niels Viggo Bentzon’s FAUST III, at Copenhagen in 1965.”
- Andrea Shum-Binder, subito-cantabile
“German conductor Eugen Jochum is considered by many to have been the foremost Bruckner conductor of the mid- to late twentieth century; he producing many outstanding recordings of Bruckner's symphonies (as well as worthy interpretations of a great many other composers). He also left to posterity a number of written articles on the interpretation of that composer.
Musical studies began in early childhood (both of Eugen's brothers, Otto Jochum and Georg Ludwig Jochum, went on to become successful musicians in their own right), and Jochum attended the Augsburg Conservatory until he was 20 years of age. He enrolled in the Munich Academy of Music as a composition student of Hermann von Waltershausen, but soon diverted his energies to conducting (working with Siegmund von Hausegger). He worked as a rehearsal assistant at the Munich National Theater, and, after a successful Munich debut in 1926, was invited to join the conducting staff at the Kiel opera. In 1926, having developed a sizable operatic repertory, he moved to Mannheim (1929-1930) and then to Duisburg (1930-1932). Although relatively young, he was asked to serve as music director for Berlin Radio in 1932, and while in that city built an association with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra which would led to many guest conductor appearances in the following decades.
Jochum became music director of the Hamburg opera (and, along with that title, principal conductor of the Hamburg Philharmonic) in 1934, remaining at that post until 1949 -- effectively avoiding Nazi interference with his musical activities. During the 1930s, Jochum continued to champion a number of contemporary composers who had been officially banned by the Nazi party (such as Hindemith and Bartók), though his great love remained the late Romantic repertory.
After forming the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra in 1949, Jochum spent the 1950s developing that organization (in conjunction with his new role as music director for Bavarian radio) and building his stature as a guest conductor around Europe; his Bayreuth debut was in 1953, and he took partial charge of the Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam from 1961-1964. He conducted the Bamburg Symphony orchestra from 1969 to 1973, and was appointed conductor laureate of the London Symphony Orchestra for the 1978-1979 season. From 1950 on Jochum served as the president of the German chapter of the International Bruckner Society.
Jochum's conducting was marked by a fluent, lyric approach (which nevertheless proved capable of drawing tempestuous results from his players when necessary). Above all else he valued a rich, warm sound perfectly suited to the music of Bruckner and Wagner, though recordings show a wealth of insight into the music of other German masters, notably Beethoven, Bach, and Haydn.”
- Blair Johnston, allmusic.com