OP1539. DER ROSENKAVALIER, Live Performance, 20 July, 1952, München, w.Erich Kleiber Cond. Bayerischen Staatsoper Ensemble; Maria Reining, Elisabeth Grümmer, Erna Berger, Kurt Böhme, etc. (E.U.) 3–Myto 00136. - 8014399501361
“Erich Kleiber decided to become a conductor while still a student at the Prague Conservatory after hearing Gustav Mahler conducting his Sixth Symphony. As choirmaster at the German Theater in Prague, he made his conducting début in 1911 directing the music for a stage comedy. A composer in his student years, his works include violin and piano concertos, orchestral and chamber works.
Following a series of appointments as conductor at Darmstadt, Barmen-Eberfeld, Düsseldorf, and Mannheim, he became general music director of the Berlin State Opera in 1923. In addition to the mainstream repertory, Kleiber introduced unfamiliar works such as Schönberg's PIERROT LUNAIRE, Janácek's JENUFA, Bittner's DAS ROSENGÄRTLEIN, and, after an astounding 132 rehearsals, gave the first U.S. performance of Berg's WOZZECK in 1924. His U.S. début as an orchestral conductor was with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra in 1930.
As conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra and a friend of Alban Berg, Kleiber was planning a Berlin performance of the five symphonic interludes from Berg's opera LULU, but, incensed by the Nazi regime's hostility to atonal music and growing political interference in his choice of programs, he resigned his Berlin post in 1934, left Germany, and appeared as guest conductor in London, Prague, Brussels, Buenos Aires, Amsterdam, and Salzburg. In 1939, Kleiber took up residence in Buenos Aires and became an Argentine citizen. He conducted opera at the Teatro Colón, trained the Buenos Aires Symphony Orchestra and toured extensively in South America with various orchestras. From 1943 he was with the Havana Philharmonic Orchestra, leaving for Europe in 1948.
In postwar Europe, Kleiber was ready to return to his roots. In 1951, he accepted the position of conductor at the Berlin State Opera, then located in the Communist sector of East Berlin, and from 1950 to 1953 conducted at London's Covent Garden opera house. Once again, however, he became dissatisfied with the atmosphere of repression and resigned his Berlin post in 1955. Before his relatively early death, he appeared as guest conductor of orchestras in London, Vienna, Cologne, Stuttgart, and other European centers.
Despite his early enthusiasm for twentieth century music, Kleiber is best remembered for minutely rehearsed and finely balanced interpretations of Beethoven, Mahler, and Bruckner. Even when in Berlin, where much of the Classical and Romantic repertory was familiar to the performers, he usually called five rehearsals before a concert. A perfectionist by nature, he insisted on complete faithfulness to the score. In his words, ‘[t]here are only two enemies of good performance: one is routine and the other improvisation’.
After his death, a performance by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra became available on CD, as did the ROSENKAVALIER he recorded in 1954.”
- Roy Brewer, allmusic.com
“Maria Reining was the jugendliche-dramatische soprano who took over the majority of Lotte Lehmann's rôles at the Vienna State Opera when Lehmann left in 1937, and continued singing them into the early 1950s. She proved hugely popular with the public because of her naturally beautiful soprano and lovely looks, the voice as we hear it obviously part of the outgoing, unaffected personality. On disc she recorded for Telefunken just before the war, for Electrola during it, and for Decca after, most notably her Marschallin in the legendary DER ROSENKAVALIER conducted by Erich Kleiber. Perhaps her most notable legacies on disc are her account of the title-rôle in ARIADNE AUF NAXOS, recorded at the Vienna State Opera to celebrate Strauss' eightieth birthday, and her Arabella in the 'unofficial' off-the-air Salzburg Festival performances of Strauss' opera in 1947 (with Hotter as Mandryka).”
- Alan Blyth, GRAMOPHONE, Sept., 1992
“In comparison with her contemporaries, Grümmer was a greatly under-recorded soprano. Since she possessed an attractive, cream-toned voice, a splendid florid technique, and a smooth legato delivery allied to a pleasing stage presence, it is curious that she was so neglected by the major record companies.”
- Vivian A. Liff, AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE, May / June, 2011
"Elisabeth Grümmer was one of a wonderful constellation of German lyric sopranos who dominated the Central European opera houses and concert halls in the 1950s and '60s."
- Kurt Moses, AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE, March/April, 2010
"Elisabeth Grümmer was one of the best German lyric sopranos of the 1950s and 60s….the listener will be struck by [her voice’s] beauty, its evenness and smoothness over its entire range. Grümmer was a stylish singer who colored her voice well and gave convincing portrayals of her operatic heroines."
- Kurt Moses, AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE, Jan./Feb., 2005
"Berger was able to sing well into her 60s with no loss of vocal quality, perhaps because she always sang in a very natural manner and never forced nor abused her voice. Here, her coloratura, with many embellishments, verges on the spectacular. Berger’s singing is…as fluent and natural as a bird’s and always has charm to spare."
- Kurt Moses, AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE, March/April, 2002
"The name inseparably associated with the Busch era at Dresden is that of Erna Berger, one of the most astonishing soprano voices in the coloratura range and also a very sensitive Lieder-singer....after Busch, Furtwängler had a special esteem for her, calling her 'a classical singer with a very romantic soul'."
- Kurt Pahlen, GREAT SINGERS, p.96