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Hans Knappertsbusch’s 1950/51 recording of Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg was the first complete studio recording of the opera and remains a classic. It offers alert and affectionate conducting, a cast that would have been familiar to opera-goers in Vienna at the time, as well as the Vienna Philharmonic and Staatsoper chorus. Paul Schoeffler’s warmly sung Sachs is perhaps without equal, and the same could be said of Hilde Gueden’s Eva, whose fresh and silvery voice is light of tone but not of weight. Günther Treptow’s Walther slightly flickers in focus, but on the whole the voice is firm and at times stentorian, and Anton Dermota’s David is beautifully sung. Add Karl Dönch’s traditional Beckmesser and Otto Edelmann’s rolling bass as Pogner, and it’s a great line-up. One drawback is the sound – not just because it’s in mono, but because the recording capability of the time isn’t what we are now used to. Opening notes are sometimes clipped, the strings sound very scratchy indeed and there’s an annoying pre-echo, audible whenever there’s a moment of hush. Be warned, but don’t let it deter you from adding this to your library.

Francis Muzzu Read the full review on Agora Classica


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