Parsifal (1961)  (Knappertsbusch;  Jess Thomas, George London, Ludwig Weber, Hans Hotter, Gustav Neidlinger, Irene Dalis)  (4-Melodram GM 1.0049)
Item# OP0894
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Product Description

Parsifal (1961)  (Knappertsbusch;  Jess Thomas, George London, Ludwig Weber, Hans Hotter, Gustav Neidlinger, Irene Dalis)  (4-Melodram GM 1.0049)
OP894. PARSIFAL, Live Performance, 1961, w.Knappertsbusch Cond. Bayreuth Festival Ensemble; Jess Thomas, George London, Ludwig Weber, Hans Hotter, Gustav Neidlinger, Irene Dalis, etc. (Croatia) 4-Melodram GM 1.0049. Outstanding sound quality! Long out-of-print, Final Sealed Copy! - 608974110499


“Hans Hotter’s riveting, gloriously detailed Gurnemanz reveals new subtleties with each rehearing, George London’s Amfortas improves upon his 1951 reading for Knappertsbusch, and Gustav Neidlinger’s malevolently projected Klingsor ups Act 2’s expressive stakes by a country mile. It’s not a perfect PARSIFAL by any means, but it’s surely the best-engineered and most cleanly executed example on disc of Knappertsbusch conducting Wagner in the theater.�

- Jed Distler,

“Transfer to CD leaves me in no doubt that this is the most moving and satisfying account of PARSIFAL ever recorded, and one that for various reasons will not easily be surpassed. Nobody today, not even Goodall, can match Knappertsbusch's combination of line and emotional power. Nobody else manages to sustain the breadth and gravity of Act 1 so effortlessly as Knappertsbusch - nobody quite equals his sense of searing remorse in the latter part of Act 2; none manages the architectural grandeur and solemnity of Act 3. The weight of the interpretation isn't compromised by slow tempos as it sometimes can be in the 1951 performance. On it can be heard, at its most compelling, the magnificence of the Bayreuth chorus and orchestra, and the marvellous blend achieved between stage and pit that is Bayreuth's unique secret. Another reason this version will be so hard to rival is the Wagnerian heights of achievement in the singing. As Robin Holloway commented in OPERA ON RECORD (Hutchinson: 1979), '’Hotter is all-surpassing and makes every other Gurnemanz seem generalized�. Whether being sad, admonitory, spiritual or celebratory, this Gurnemanz commands the stage by virtue of warm, grand tone and verbal detailing. George London's Amfortas, also heard on the 1951 set, is as urgent and tormented as Amfortas should be, quite frightening in his anguished declamation. Jess Thomas, a little too non-commital in Act 1 (though this standing-apart isn't wholly inappropriate), comes into his own in Act 2, playful with the Flowers, forcefully dismissive and pained with Kundry. Inspired by Hotter, he rises to heights of feeling in the Good Friday music�.Knappertsbusch's total concept, and the vocal calibre of his cast, all heard so vitally now on CD.'

- Alan Blyth, GRAMOPHONE, June, 1986

"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."

- John Rockwell, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 11 July, 1993