OP2779. PARSIFAL, Live Performance,1969, Buenos Aires, w.Leinsdorf Cond. Teatro Colon Ensemble; Wolfgang Windgassen, Theo Adam, Victor de Narcke, Franz Crass, Régine Crespin, etc. (Slovenia) 3-Living Stage 1043. Long out-of-print, final copies! - 3830257410430
“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
“Theo Adam, a German opera singer whose varied career spanned the second half of the last century and who made a particularly strong impression internationally with his Wagnerian roles, was a regular at the Bayreuth Festival in Germany beginning in the early 1950s, and in February 1969 he made his debut at the Metropolitan Opera in one of his signature roles, Hans Sachs in Wagner’s DIE MEISTERSINGER.
At a time when, for many operagoers, the singing was the only thing that mattered, Mr. Adam brought an actor’s sensibility as well as a fine voice to the stage. ‘Mr. Adam has developed the vocal and histrionic aspects of his art with equal care and success’, Allen Hughes wrote in THE NEW YORK TIMES in reviewing Mr. Adam’s Met debut. ‘His voice is relatively light in weight and texture, and he sang here with a smoothness and flexibility that basses do not invariably possess’. ‘Mr. Adam is not a tall man, he has not let himself get fat, and he moves lithely’, Mr. Hughes added. ‘Indeed his movements, so splendidly scaled and timed, made his acting a joy to follow’.
By the time he retired in 2006 he had appeared in operas and recitals all over the world. For his final performance, that November at the Semperoper in Dresden, he reprised the role of the hermit in Carl Maria von Weber’s DER FREISCHÜTZ, which he had first performed at the same house in 1949.
Mr. Adam joined the rosters of both Bayreuth and the Berlin State Opera in 1952. He first performed the role of Wotan in the Wagner RING operas in 1963, and in 1967 he took his Wotan to the Royal Opera House in London. Metropolitan Opera audiences got to see him as Wotan in DIE WALKÜRE in 1969, just after his Met debut as Hans Sachs.
Mr. Adam was also known for numerous other roles, including the title character in Alban Berg’s WOZZECK. Philip Borg-Wheeler, reviewing a 1973 recording of that opera for Music Web International, said of Mr. Adam’s performance that ‘we have here arguably the most magnificent Wozzeck on record’.
- Neil Genzlinger, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 15 Jan., 2019
"Although sometimes billed as a bass baritone, Franz Crass was a high bass with an instrument of unusual warmth and suppleness. In an age in which most German basses offered weighty, droning sounds, Crass' very beautiful instrument ideally fit such roles as Sarastro (he sang the Sprecher in DIE ZAUBERFLOTE as well), Rocco in FIDELIO, and the Hermit in DER FREISCHUTZ. Not until the arrival of Kurt Moll was there a European bass quite so mellifluous. After his first few recordings, especially those with Otto Klemperer, Crass was invited to take on many engagements, both in the studio and on-stage. In 1954, he was offered a contract by the Stadischen Buhnen Krefeld/Munchen-Gladbach and remained there for two years before joining Hanover's Landestheater. In 1959, he began a long association with the Bayreuth Festival, performing in LOHENGRIN and returning in DER FLIEGENDE HOLLANDER the following year. In later years, he appeared there in several operas recorded for commercial release. From 1962 to 1964, Crass performed with the Cologne Opera, moving thereafter to the Hamburg State Opera. As his career expanded, he was a frequent guest in Munich, Vienna, at La Scala, and at Covent Garden. During his prime, Crass recorded many of his finest roles. At least two live performances of his Dutchman were preserved, matched in vocal splendor only by Hans Hotter's WWII-era document. Crass was the superb Sarastro in Karl Bohm's ZAUBERFLOTE that also featured the elegant Tamino of Fritz Wunderlich. Various recordings of Bach demonstrate how much better the composer's bass arias sound when sung by a full and genuinely beautiful voice."
- Erik Eriksson, allmusic.com
"To be sure, one of the remarkable assets of Crespin's singing was the power and size of the voice. She could compete on even grounds with Nilsson when they sang together in DIE WALKURE, and with Corelli in WERTHER.
But there was much, much more to Crespin than sheer visceral impact. She sang with subtlety, a variety of colors depending on the demands of the music and the dramatic moment, and always with real involvement. Her singing was filled with nuance, with a wide range of dynamic shading, and was always founded on a beautiful glowing tone."
- Henry Fogel, Program Notes, Immortal Performances Set [V2547]
"Régine Crespin, the French operatic soprano and later mezzo-soprano, one of the most important vocal artists to emerge from France in the decades after World War II was widely admired for the elegance, warmth and subtlety of her singing, especially in the French and German operatic repertories. Early on, the natural carrying power of her voice seemed to point to a career as a dramatic soprano. Indeed, she made her 1950 debut at the regional company in Mulhouse, France, singing Elsa in Wagner's LOHENGRIN. Yet Ms Crespin's singing was imbued with nuanced phrasing, telling attention to text, creamy lyricism and lovely high pianissimos. While she had an enveloping voice, she always seemed to keep something in reserve, leading some listeners to sense a touch too much French restraint. But most opera buffs valued Ms Crespin for the effortless richness, lyrical nobility and subtle colorings of her singing. She was also a sophisticated actress whose Junoesque presence commanded attention. Ms Crespin's Metropolitan Opera debut came in 1962 as the Marschallin in DER ROSENKAVALIER, directed by the soprano Lotte Lehmann, who had been the most renowned interpreter of the role. Reviewing Ms Crespin's portrayal, the NEW YORK TIMES critic Harold C. Schonberg wrote that she gave 'a simply beautiful performance' [enriched with]'all kinds of delicate shading'. But when she let out her full voice, he added, it 'soared over the orchestra and all over the house - big, confident and beautiful'. In 1967 she sang Sieglinde to Birgit Nilsson's Brünnhilde at the Met, with Herbert von Karajan conducting a production that he also directed. Reviewing that performance for THE TIMES of London, the critic Conrad L. Osborne wrote that 'Nilsson and Crespin spurring each other on make for the sort of thing one remembers with a chill for years'. In later life Ms Crespin won wide recognition as a voice teacher. During some 1995 master classes at the Mannes College of Music in New York, the students were enraptured not only by her insightful critiques, but by her insider tales about opera stars."
- Anthony Tommasini, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 6 July, 2007
"[Crespin] was surely one of the greatest French singers of the 20th Century; in fact, one of the great singers on records, one whose art goes well beyond the merely vocal. Beyond its size, [her voice] had a beautiful shimmer about it, a glowing quality present in all registers."
- Henry Fogel, FANFARE, March/April, 2005
"Erich Leinsdorf, a conductor whose abrasive intelligence and deep musical learning served as a conscience for two generations of conductors, had a utilitarian stage manner and his disdain of dramatic effects for their own sake stood out as a not-so-silent rebuke to his colleagues in this most glamorous of all musical jobs. In addition, Mr. Leinsdorf - in rehearsal, in the press and in his valuable book on conducting, THE COMPOSER'S ADVOCATE - never tired of pointing out gaps in culture among musicians, faulty editing among music publishers and errors in judgment or acts of ignorance among his fellow conductors. He rarely named his victims, but his messages and their targets were often clear. Moreover, he usually had the solid grasp of facts to support his contentions.
Mr. Leinsdorf moved to this country from Vienna in 1937. Helped by the recommendation of Arturo Toscanini, whom he had been assisting at the Salzburg Festival, Mr. Leinsdorf made his conducting debut at the Metropolitan Opera a year later with DIE WALKï¿½RE. He was 25 years old at the time . A year later he was made overseer of the Met's German repertory, and his contentious style - in particular an insistence on textual accuracy and more rehearsal - won him no friends among singers like Lauritz Melchior and Kirsten Flagstad. Backed by management, he remained at the Met until 1943. At the New York City Opera, where he became music director in 1956, Mr. Leinsdorf's demanding policies in matters of repertory and preparation made him further enemies, and he left a year later. His searches for permanent employment turned mostly to orchestras. After the briefest of tenures at the Cleveland Orchestra during World War II, Mr. Leinsdorf took over the Rochester Philharmonic and stayed for nine years.
Mr. Leinsdorf's last and most prestigious music directorship was at the Boston Symphony, where he replaced Charles Munch in 1962. No contrast in style could have been sharper: Munch had viewed conducting mystically, as a kind of priesthood; Mr. Leinsdorf's policy was to make performances work in the clearest and most rational way. Observers both in and out of the orchestra could not deny the benefits of Mr. Leinsdorf's discipline, but there were some who were hostile to what they perceived as an objectivity that could hardly be called heartwarming.
One American orchestra manager a few years ago responded to musicians' grumblings over Mr. Leinsdorf's rehearsal manner by saying that he was 'good for my orchestra'. And so he probably was."
- Bernard Holland, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 12 Sept., 1993