Humperdinck - Hansel und Gretel Double CD
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A welcome back to this famous recording from the vaults of the Yellow Label, with the great Rita Streich and Gisela Litz. An opera based on a childrens tale, but by no means childish! The inherent horror of the tale is painted in Wagnerian colours and the dramatic tension is spine-tingling! Poor Humperdinck! Remembered today for just one work, overshadowed by both Wagner and Richard Strauss (the final indignity came with having his name taken by a 1960s crooner!), he was highly respected by both his colleagues, and assisted Wagner at Bayreuth in 1881-2 working on the premiere of Parsifal. Of his nine works for stage, Hansel und Gretel has remained a firm favourite in opera houses around the world. A skilful blend of Webers Der Freischütz, Wagners Meistersinger and Siegfried, it weaves a magical spell upon the listener. Conjuring up all the childhood fears of what lives in deep in the forest, and things that go bump in the night (this is after all based on a Grimm Brothers tale!), Humperdincks magical score is full of wonderful tunes. The casting of a mezzo-soprano, as Humperdinck intended, rather than a soprano in the part of Hansel, means that there is more differentiation of voice here than in the Columbia (Karajan) discRita Streich is very well cast as Gretel.That admirable artist Res Fischer is a much better witch than Columbia's Else Scharhof, really sings all of her part, instead of mouthing it, and is more sinister. Gramophone
Top Customer Reviews
The Wagnerian heft of the Witches' Ride and the Dream Pantomime doesn't really come across under Fritz Lehmann's literal direction and it's hard to detect much change in mood or ambience when we enter the dark forest. The key moment when the witch is shoved into her own oven is lively but hardly climactic.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The Wagnerian heft of the Witches' Ride and the Dream Pantomime doesn't really come across under Fritz Lehmann's literal direction and it's hard to detect much change in mood or ambience when we enter the dark forest. The key moment when the witch is shoved into her own oven is lively but hardly climactic.
With so many satisfying alternative versions available I cannot in all conscience recommend this one, despite its bargain price - unless you are a Rita Streich completist. My personal favourite is the 1978 set conducted by Pritchard with the dream pairing of Cotrubas and Von Stade, closely followed by Solti's recording with Popp and Fassbaender as sister and brother - also made in 1978. If you want a bargain, you could do far worse than the 1971 Eichhorn set with Helen Donath and Anna Moffo as delightful siblings; all three are preferable to this dull re-issue on the Brilliant label and all are by and large far better sung and played.