OP2793. BORIS GODUNOV (in German), Live Performance, 1957, w.Jochum Cond. Bayerischen Rundfunks Ensemble; Hans Hotter, Hans Hopf, Kim Borg, Lorenz Fehenberger, Martha Mödl, etc.; HANS HOTTER: Wagnerian Arias, recorded 1942-44. (E.U.) 3-Myto 00138. - 8014399501385
“German conductor Eugen Jochum is considered by many to have been the foremost Bruckner conductor of the mid- to late twentieth century; he producing many outstanding recordings of Bruckner's symphonies (as well as worthy interpretations of a great many other composers). He also left to posterity a number of written articles on the interpretation of that composer.
Musical studies began in early childhood (both of Eugen's brothers, Otto Jochum and Georg Ludwig Jochum, went on to become successful musicians in their own right), and Jochum attended the Augsburg Conservatory until he was 20 years of age. He enrolled in the Munich Academy of Music as a composition student of Hermann von Waltershausen, but soon diverted his energies to conducting (working with Siegmund von Hausegger). He worked as a rehearsal assistant at the Munich National Theater, and, after a successful Munich debut in 1926, was invited to join the conducting staff at the Kiel opera. In 1926, having developed a sizable operatic repertory, he moved to Mannheim (1929-1930) and then to Duisburg (1930-1932). Although relatively young, he was asked to serve as music director for Berlin Radio in 1932, and while in that city built an association with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra which would led to many guest conductor appearances in the following decades.
Jochum became music director of the Hamburg opera (and, along with that title, principal conductor of the Hamburg Philharmonic) in 1934, remaining at that post until 1949 -- effectively avoiding Nazi interference with his musical activities. During the 1930s, Jochum continued to champion a number of contemporary composers who had been officially banned by the Nazi party (such as Hindemith and Bartók), though his great love remained the late Romantic repertory.
After forming the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra in 1949, Jochum spent the 1950s developing that organization (in conjunction with his new role as music director for Bavarian radio) and building his stature as a guest conductor around Europe; his Bayreuth debut was in 1953, and he took partial charge of the Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam from 1961-1964. He conducted the Bamburg Symphony orchestra from 1969 to 1973, and was appointed conductor laureate of the London Symphony Orchestra for the 1978-1979 season. From 1950 on Jochum served as the president of the German chapter of the International Bruckner Society.
Jochum's conducting was marked by a fluent, lyric approach (which nevertheless proved capable of drawing tempestuous results from his players when necessary). Above all else he valued a rich, warm sound perfectly suited to the music of Bruckner and Wagner, though recordings show a wealth of insight into the music of other German masters, notably Beethoven, Bach, and Haydn.”
- Blair Johnston, allmusic.com
"Hotter was far, far more than a Wagnerian....[he] sang Lieder at recitals and in the studio throughout his timeless career. All his interpretations evinced a care over matching text to music. Even in Wagner he gave a Lieder singer's attention to the words. In private he was a gentle giant, an engaging raconteur and an intelligent observer of the musical scene"
- Alan Blyth, GRAMOPHONE, March, 2004
"Of all the singers of the 20th century, the man whose voice and presence were most capable of conveying the essence of the archetypal father was bass-baritone Hans Hotter. Blessed with a huge, resonant instrument that could be scaled down to an intimate whisper, the man could sound invincible one minute and vulnerable the next. No matter what he sang, Hotter communicated a profundity and depth of spirit that seemed rooted in a primordial place of holiness and sagacity. If you can imagine a man whose voice could convincingly express the power of a God, the wisdom of a sage, and the humanity of an open-hearted mortal, you can begin to hear the sound of Hans Hotter in your head.
In the world of opera, Richard Wagner's Wotan, the God of Valhalla, is perhaps the greatest Daddy of them all. In DIE WALKÜRE, he has no choice but to punish his favorite daughter Brünnhilde for her sin of intervening in the affairs of mortals. But even as he puts his beloved daughter to sleep, protecting her with a ring of fire, he makes sure that love can dowse the flames and return her to life. It was the Wotan of Hans Hotter, more than of any other recorded singer, that most fully expressed the tortured godliness of this strangely mortal immortal.
At the same time as Hotter dominated the opera stage as Wotan, he became known as a supreme interpreter of German art song. With his voice pared down as necessary, Hotter's lieder interpretations evinced the same strength and surety that thundered through him when he strode across the stage carrying sword and shield."
- Jason Serinus
ï¿½For many of the record-buying public, their impression of German dramatic tenor Hans Hopf was formed upon viewing the wretched photograph that was displayed on the cover of his 1960 EMI recording of TANNHï¿½USER. Appearing bloated and dim-witted, the tenor was sorely misrepresented by a portrait that should never have been released. While his voice had by that time grown beefier and less pliant, Hopf was too serious an artist to have been exposed to such a public relations disaster. For a truer picture, physically and aurally, turn to his Walter in EMI's live recording of Bayreuth's 1951 DIE MEISTERSINGER with Schwarzkopf, Edelmann, and Karajan. Here, before the strain of too many heroic roles took their toll, his singing was strong and highly agreeable, accomplished if somewhat short of poetic. Hopf studied with bass Paul Bender in Munich before making his dï¿½but in 1936 singing Pinkerton with the Bavarian Regional Opera. Affiliations with Augsburg, Dresden, Oslo, and Berlin preceded his extended membership at the Bavarian Staatsoper beginning in 1949. In addition to his Bayreuth dï¿½but, the 1950 -- 1951 season held a first appearance at Covent Garden, where Hopf sang his German-language Radames in an otherwise English-language Aï¿½DA. He was also heard as Walter, pleasing the critics and audiences more for his sturdy singing than for his subtlety. Hopf remained with the Royal Opera through the 1952 -- 1953 season, offering his Walter all three years. At Bayreuth, Hopf worked his way to Parsifal, Tannhï¿½user, and Siegfried by the 1960s. In 1952, he made his Metropolitan Opera dï¿½but as Walter. He continued to appear for five more years, eventually amassing a total of 34 performances in the Wagnerian repertory. At Salzburg in 1954, Hopf made his dï¿½but as Max in Weber's DER FREISCHï¿½TZ. Although most of his career was spent in Europe, Hopf made two further appearances in American opera houses singing Herodes in both Chicago (1968) and San Francisco (1974), both times with Astrid Varnay as his consort. Although the latter production caught him rather late in the day, he was still an arresting Herod, dissolute and clearly not quite stable. In Germany, Hopf had achieved a considerable reputation as Verdi's Otello.ï¿½
- Erik Eriksson, allmusic.com
ï¿½Borg was engaged to sing the oily monk Rangoni to Christoff's Boris Godunov in Issay Dobrowen's ground-breaking recording of Mussorgsky's opera for EMI in 1952. Soon, Deutsche Grammophon was on his trail, and he made a number of recordings of opera, oratorio and song for the company during the following 10 years. Borg was much admired in Germany and, from 1965 to 1968, was a member of the Hamburg State Opera. But he was always welcome in his native Scandinavia, and from 1960 was a member of the Stockholm Opera, where his Scarpia was much praised in 1963. In 1971, he sang Fafner and Hagen in the company's performances of Wagner's RING. A year earlier, he sang Osmin at the Drottningholm festival, another histrionic triumph. He appeared in concerts at the Salzburg festival from 1956, singing Mozart, and in 1965-66 sang Pimen in Karajan's staging of BORIS GODUNOV.ï¿½
- Alan Blyth, THE GUARDIAN, 30 May, 2000