Saturday, 26 May 2012

Die Walkure Bayreuth 1951

Leonie Rysanek
 When the Bayreuth festival reopened after the war, recording engineers from Decca and EMI were there to record complete Wagner performances.  Meistersinger and Parsifal were ultimately issued commercially but both ring cycles were also recorded, the first one under Knappertsbusch by Decca and the second one under Karajan by EMI. The Decca tapes were consigned to the vaults, partly due to producer John Culshaw's dislike of live recordings, and only Gotterdammerung seems to have been kept (and was later issued by Testament). EMI only issued Act 3 of Die Walkure but the entire ring remains in their archive. Rheingold and Siegfried later emerged on pirate labels but the complete Walkure has not been released. The Bayreuth performances of 1951 were broadcast throughout Europe and someone managed to capture this off-air extract from Act 1 of Die Walkure, the final 20 minutes. This is the earliest recording of Leonie Rysanek's Sieglinde, a part she would make her own for a large part of the 1950s and 1960s. Her trademark scream as Siegmund pulls the sword from the tree, famously heard on the Bohm live Bayreuth recordings from 1966/7 is absent here, so clearly was something later added to her characterisation. Treptow is a very fine Siegmund.

Die Walkure
Bayreuth August 12, 1951

Sieglinde - Leonie Rysanek
Siegmund - Gunther Treptow

c. Herbert von Karajan

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Meistersinger Leipzig 1938

Josef von Manowarda as Hans Sachs
Here we have most of act two of Die Meistersinger, broadcast live from Leipzip and relayed via shortwave to the USA where it was heard on WEAF New York between 2 and 3pm. It's a rare chance to hear Austrian bass Josef von Manowarda (1890-1942) in an extended recording. Other surviving examples of his art tend to be fragmentary, such as various 1933 performances recorded in Vienna (issued as part of the Koch Swan series), and some pre-war Bayreuth extracts. The only complete role of his that survives, so far as I know, is Sarastro in Die Zauberflote from a 1937 Stuttgart radio broadcast.
The cast of this Meistersinger was a very good one for the time. Frantz was a noted Wagnerian and would go on to be a noted Sachs himself as well as a famous Wotan. Max Lorenz was the leading European heldentenor during the 1930s, dominating particularly at Bayreuth. Margarethe Teschemacher was a leading soprano in Germany during the 1930s and created the role of Daphne for Richard Strauss.
The sound is actually not bad for a shortwave transmission, and some commentary is retained. Particularly interesting is the German announcer sending greetings to America at a time when Germany had recently annexed Austria and was moving against Czechoslovakia.

Richard Wagner
Die Meistersinger von N├╝rnberg
Act II
Reichssender Leipzig - 22 May 1938

Hans Sachs - Josef von Manowarda
Veit Pogner - Ferdinand Frantz
Sixtus Beckmesser - Gerhard Hofmann
Walther von Stolzing - Max Lorenz
Eva Pogner - Margarethe Teschemacher
David - Paul Reinecke
Magdalene - Martha Rohs

Chor und Orchester des Reichssenders Leipzig
Cond. Hans Weisbach