OP1122. SIEGFRIED, Live Performance, 1955, w.Keilberth Cond. Bayreuth Festival Ensemble; Wolfgang Windgassen, Hans Hotter, Astrid Varnay, Paul Kuën, Gustav Neidlinger, Maria von Ilosvay, Josef Greindl, etc. (England) 4-Testament Stereo SBT4 1392, from Unpublished Decca recording. Outstanding sound! Final Sealed Copy! - 749677139223
"The first release of the first stereo recording of the work, the historical importance of this set of Wagner's SIEGFRIED is undeniable. Recorded by Decca at the 1955 Bayreuth Festival, this performance directed by Joseph Keilberth was to have been issued as part of the first complete RING cycle. But persuaded that only a studio recording could do the work justice, Decca decided to shelve Keilberth's performance, a decision that led to Georg Solti recording SIEGFRIED with the Vienna Philharmonic and ultimately to the release of a RING cycle that many still regard as the finest ever recorded. But aside from its inherent historical value, what's its aesthetic value? While much better than average, Keilberth's Siegfried doesn't challenge the established order. The casting is mostly terrific with the youthful Wolfgang Windgassen in the title role, the masterful Hans Hotter as Wotan, the cunning Paul Kuën as Mime, the deceitful Gustav Neidlinger as Alberich."
- Ned Ludd
“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
“Joseph Keilberth was a German conductor active during the mid-twentieth century. His talents developed early: he pursued a general education and musical training in Karlsruhe, and at the age of seventeen joined the Karlsruhe State Theater as a répétiteur (vocal coach - a common starting place for European conductors). He remained with the theater and ten years later he was appointed general music director
He remained there until 1940, when he was appointed chief conductor of the German Philharmonic Orchestra of Prague. He became chief conductor of the Dresden State Opera in 1945. With a minimum of disruption for deNazification he remained in that position until 1950. In 1949 he became chief conductor of the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra, which was in fact a reunion. After the War, the German population of the Sudetenland (the German-speaking part of Czechoslovakia), which had been the excuse for Hitler's occupation of the country, were returned to Germany, and with them went the German Philharmonic of Prague, Keilberth's old orchestra, which settled in Bamberg. Causing unwary biographers some confusion, he also became the chief conductor of the Hamburg Philharmonic in 1950.
He frequently appeared as a guest conductor elsewhere in Germany, notably with the Berlin Philharmonic and, beginning in 1952, the Bayreuth Festival, and appeared regularly at the Salzburg and Lucerne festivals. In 1952 he also led his first performance in the Edinburgh Festival with the Hamburg State Opera.
He was a favored conductor for the RING and other operas through 1956. In 1959 he succeeded Ferenc Fricay at the helm of the Bavarian State Opera in Munich. There, history repeated itself. Keilberth died after collapsing during a performance of Wagner's TRISTAN UND ISOLDE, just as Felix Mottl—conductor at the same theater - had done in 1911.
Keilberth was very strong in Mozart and in the Wagnerian repertory, and in later German classics such as Pfitzner, Bruckner, Richard Strauss, Max Reger, and Paul Hindemith. His classic recordings included Hindemith's opera CARDILLAC.”
- Joseph Stevenson, allmusic.com