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Customer reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

on 1 February 2014
The singing here is top-notch. That should not come as a surprise to anyone who has taken a look at the cast! The singers must have enjoyed recording this because they sound so involved. The conducting work seems very well judged to my ears and the sound quality is very good. This must be considered a classic recording of this work. Other reviewers seem to agree on that.
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on 16 May 2016
product arrived within allotted time and was exactly what I wanted at a good price
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 14 June 2012
All three of these excellent analogue studio recordings were made in the heyday of the 70's when there was still a market for such things; I own and enjoy them all so I thought it might be helpful to make comparison across all three to assist anyone wanting only one on their shelves. I found, to my surprise, that my old allegiance to the Solti set needed reconsideration.

First, all three have great merits and all are in excellent sound although the earliest - the RCA set from 1971 is the cleanest and clearest, with the Solti coming next and the Sony a clear third owing to some slight cloudiness and lack of detail compared with the other two. I particularly like the touch of reverb surrounding the witch's "Hokus-pokus" for Eichhorn and its higher recording sound level of gives more lift to proceedings - as indeed does Eichhorn's conducting, which is the most alert, animated and responsive of the three. Solti adopts a rather grand, Wagnerian manner which is a tad static while Pritchard's literal direction constitutes that recording's greatest weakness; he fails to find the lift and colour in the score so ably brought out by Eichhorn. You have only to listen to the great orchestral set pieces such as the Prelude, the Pantomime or the Witch's Ride to hear how stiff and stolid both Pritchard and even Solti are alongside Eichhorn's lift, flexibility and drive.

Regarding the singing, I was struck afresh by the aptness of the casting for Eichhorn. The contrast between Moffo's darker, boyish Hänsel and Donath's crystal-voiced Gretel is perfect. All three sibling pairings are delightful: Pritchard has two of the loveliest voices ever to grace a stage in Frederica Von Stade and Ileana Cotrubas, whose oboe tone and plangent sweetness combine with melting beauty; they are especially touching in their duet before settling down to sleep in the open. I found Solti's pair too mature: Fassbaender is just a little blowsy as Hänsel and Popp too sophisticated and glamorous in timbre for the child Gretel. Popp is much more aptly cast as the Dew Fairy for Eichhorn.

Similarly, Christa Ludwig is better cast as the Witch in 1971: she is the funniest and the most engaging without resorting to the hammy excesses of Anny Schlemm for Solti - nor does she have Schlemm's wobble. Södeström is wheedling, clever and subtle for Pritchard; no mugging but reliant upon a wide variety of vocal colours without sacrificing vocal quality.

While I am often no fan of the recently deceased Fischer-Dieskau, I readily concede his superiority to a bluff Walter Berry and a slightly barking but jolly Nimsgern as the father; his famous word-painting really brings this likeable character alive. Solti's mother, Julia Hamari, is a little bland and Ludwig is too much the shrill harridan for Pritchard whereas Eichhorn's less well-known Charlotte Berthold represents the happy medium between those two extremes.

The three singers playing the Sandman are all delightful but Te Kanawa is almost too aloof and exquisite while Norma Burrowes is a little ordinary in comparison with Arleen Augér's bell-like purity. Solti's Dew Fairy is a rather hyper Edita Gruberova, Pritchard has the charming Ruth Welting and Eichhorn the aforementioned Lucia Popp, who, again, just gives Eichhorn the edge over the others.

Ultimately, therefore, despite the beauties of the singing for Pritchard and the grandeur of the playing for Solti, I find that the vintage Eichhorn set combines the greatest number of virtues in a recording that is rather brisker than the other too by some six minutes, reflecting his tautness and overall care for shaping compared with Solti's somewhat lax spaciousness and Pritchard's four-square literalism. There is a directness and honesty about Eichhorn's account which strikes me as being truest to the fairy-tale simplicity of this gorgeous opera.
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on 7 July 2011
Completely agree with the other review posted. Stellar cast, right down to the smallest roles and a bold sound production from RCA. No translation of the German in the booklet, but it's so melodious and the story so familiar you really won't need it. The only question now is why I listen so rarely?

A very plausible recommendation for an opera innocent.
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on 30 January 2010
While this recording dates from 1971, it is still as fresh and compelling compared with many later recordings. It is always a delight to hear Anna Moffo (Hansel) again. She was an American Soprano, but her diction in the German language along with that of Helen Donath (Gretel),is impeccable. It is also interesting to hear a younger Fischer-Dieskau as well as the young Lucia Popp.
I have quite a few ADD remasters of the EMI Classics label, but this is my first RCA Classics (ADD) remastered recording.It is equally as good.
This performance is the complete work of Hansel and Gretel, lasting an hour and 40 minutes along with spoken dialogue. It is performed with sensitivity and true professionalism, as well as being technically a fine recording. I can recommend this recording in any CD library.
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on 1 June 2014
Please be aware that the MP3 samples offered in this listing are not the Eichhorn recording. I should have thought that nobody could mistake the feeble baritone singing Father for Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau.
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