OP2785. DER FLIEGENDE HOLLÄNDER, Live Performance, 2 Feb., 1966, w.Sawallisch Cond. La Scala Ensemble; Franz Crass, Leonie Rysanek, Karl Ridderbusch, Claude Heater, etc. (Slovenia) 2-Living Stage 4035125. Long out-of-print, final copies! - 3830025743111
“Wolfgang Sawallisch, one of the last of the old-school German conductors, who led the Philadelphia Orchestra for nearly a decade and the Bavarian State Opera in Munich for two decades before that, embodied the German type of the ‘Kapellmeister’ in the best sense: a man steeped in music, who knew every note of every score he conducted (often from memory), who was a supportive accompanist as well as an informed interpreter and who understood how to train, develop and lead an orchestra. Never flashy, even somewhat understated, he was, at his best, insightful and illuminating.
While Mr. Sawallisch was renowned throughout Europe, he might have remained little known to American audiences had the Philadelphia Orchestra not tapped him to take over as music director in 1993. When he arrived at age 70, he underwent a veritable renaissance, evidently enjoying a new freedom, both artistic and political — far from the political squabbling that had increasingly overshadowed his last years in Munich. ‘The last 10 years, with the Philadelphia Orchestra’, he said in 2006, ‘were really the top years of my symphonic life’. His time in Philadelphia was therefore a particularly happy ending to his career. Against some expectations, the reserved, intensely private German thrived in America, and the orchestra responded warmly to him.”
- Anne Midgette, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 24 Feb., 2013
“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 ZAUBERFLÖTE as well), Rocco in FIDELIO, and the Hermit in DER FREISCHÜTZ. 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 Städischen Bühnen Krefeld/München-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 HOLLÄNDER 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 Böhm's ZAUBERFLÖTE 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