WAGNER: "The Potted Ring" Volume III Götterdämmerung
WAGNER: Acts 2 and 3 of Tristan and Isolde
TCJAIKOVSKY: Eugene Onegin
Here is the conclusion of the remarkable "Potted Ring" series on Pristine, which began with excerpts from Rheingold and Die Walküre (REVIEW), and continued with Siegfried (REVIEW). Now we have everything recorded for HMV, all in transfers by Mark Obert-Thorn who has displayed remarkable ingenuity in putting this together. On a few occasions, some interludes were not recorded for the specific seizes, but were available elsewhere so they are incorporated to provide a more complete performance. This set of excerpts from Götterdämmerung is magnificent in performance; these are the top Wagner singers of the time. What a pleasure it is to hear the feminine but assured singing of Florence Austral as Brünnhilde, and the remarkable Rudolf Laübent.al as Siegfried! And we have the authority and power of conductors Albert Cotes (who conducts most of he excerpts). Leo Blech and, briefly, Karl Muck. The important Index disk contains other excerpts from the opera and a complete index of the 90 motives from The Ring, played by the LSO conducted by Lawrence Collingwood, These are identified in CD notes and identified by number only on the recording. Collectors are familiar with the Motive compilation included in the Decca Ring set conducted by Solti. There are only 40 tracks in this version, but they are much more extensive. Most of the motives in the earlier set are only a few seconds; the longest is :22. The Solti version places the motives in context with much longer samples. This Volume II of "The Potted Ring" on Pristint, like the two previous issues, is essential in any Wagner collection.
German soprano Erna Schlüter (1904-1969) began her career singing mezzo roles (Delilah, Santuzza, Fricka, the Marschallin), then Verdi and Puccini soprano roles, and turned to dramatic soprano roles including Brünnhilde, Isolde and Elektra. Schlüter was a favorite with leading conductors including Bruno Walter, Sir Thomas Beechm and Wilhelm Furtwängler. She made relatively few recordings but they include two of Elektra, one a studio recording made in Hamburg in 1944 conducted by Eugen Jochum, the other a 1947 BBC broadcast directed by Beecham. On this welcome Andromeda set we hear her as Isolde in a Berlin State Opera Tristan performance March 10,1947, conducted by Furtwängler. Unfortunately only acts 2 and 3 are available, but they are magnificent. Furtwängler is acknowledged as possibly the finest conductor of this music; his 1951 EM recording is definitive, particularly when heard in Pristine's outstanding remastering (REVIEW). Schlüter is an ideal Isolde, more feminine than most, and she is fearless on those top notes. Her Tristan, Ludwig Suthaus, is perfect; he was at his peak of performance, and the rest of the cast also is first-rate. The real star here is the conductor; you will not hear a more impassioned presentation of this music. Audio s excellent for its time. No texts, virtually no documentation, but this is a recording all lovers of this opera should investigate. This is a budget reissue.
The Vienna State Opera assembled a first-class cast for its presentation of Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin on an unspecified date in 1955. George London was Onegin, Leonie Rysanek was Tatiana, Anton Dermota was Lensky, and the chorus and orchestra were directed by the respected Berislav Klobucar. And what a performance it is—everyone in top form, and just to hear Rysanek's impassioned singing of the Letter Scene justifies getting this set. This was a grand night at the Vienna State Opera captured in reasonably good mono sound. This also is budget-priced.
R.E.B. (April 2015)