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Wagner: The Mastersingers of Nuremberg / Goodall, Bailey, Mangin, Sadler's Wells Opera Orchestra, et al

Album Summary

>Wagner, Richard : Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
Performers Conductor Ensemble Composer

Notes & Reviews:

This is the first time that the legendary centenary production of Wagner's 'The Mastersingers of Nuremberg' conducted by Reginald Goodall has been available on disc.

The Times
There might be flaws in this long-awaited CD release of the original performance, but few of them come from Goodall's thrilling grasp of Wagner's late comic opera. Compelling, joyous, often magnificent, Goodall displays a great sense for overall dramatic architecture and a spaciousness that highlights detail.

Sunday Times
The performance is greater than the sum of its parts: individual roles may have been more lustrously sung on disc, but it is hard to think of a more satisfying team than Norman Bailey (a noble Sachs, earthy and poetic), Alberto Remedios (a liquidly sung, golden-toned Stolzing), Derek Hammond-Stroud, (a pernickety, word-perfect Beckmesser), Margaret Curphey (occasionally lemony-tinted, but radiant on the top line of the quintet) and Gregory Dempsey (a David who really sings the notes). Goodall's towering achievement shines through the sometimes boxy recording.

The Guardian
Avid Wagnerites have been clamouring for the commercial release of these two performances for ages. Broadcast on Radio 3, from Sadler's Wells and the Royal Opera House respectively, they have cult status among postwar British Wagner interpretations, and each also represents a significant moment in its company's history. Reginald Goodall's English-language performances in 1968 marked the start of a 15-year-long Wagnerian golden age, as far as Sadler's Wells (later English National) Opera was concerned. Bernard Haitink's Meistersinger - the high point of his tenure as Covent Garden's music director - was broadcast in July 1997, on the eve of the house's closure for refurbishment. Stylistically, they are antithetical. Goodall's at times overwhelming performance is at once extremely slow and phenomenally intense, while Haitink is swift, mercurial and altogether more relaxed. Goodall never lets us forget that Meistersinger is a parable of poetic creativity, and there is an overriding sense of metaphysical resonance and elation in his interpretation. Haitink, meanwhile steers us through an urbane social comedy, before anchoring the work in the final scene, when Walther (Gösta Winbergh) gives the song's first performance, as Sachs (John Tomlinson) gazes contentedly on. Goodall has marginally the more consistent cast, the product of his determination to train an ensemble of house singers. Bailey's nobly introverted Sachs has claim to being the most beautiful on disc, and few Walthers have ever matched Remedios in poetic fervour. Winbergh, very much his equal in vocal ease and beauty, is more impulsive and also, tellingly, more obviously aristocratic. Goodall has the better Eva in the ecstatic Margaret Curphey, while Haitink's Nancy Gustafson is having an off night. On the other hand, Thomas Allen's subtly characterised Beckmesser, for Haitink, is preferable to Derek Hammond-Stroud's snarling caricature on the Goodall set.

Gramophone Magazine
Goodall's understanding of what every beat of this core means, and his successful communication of that to his personally trained cast, is a thing of wonder. Climaxes are immense; timers may tell us it's slow, but the pulse never flags.

BBC Music Magazine
It's eminently listenable, capturing the musical and spiritual glow of Goodall's orchestra and voices, masterfully embodying the comedy's entwining pain and laughter. ... this is not only something very special, but (for Anglophones) strikingly accessible. Pure gold!

Penguin Guide
Quite a revelation. The radio recording captures the atmosphere thrillingly.


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Works Details

>Wagner, Richard : Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
  • Performers: Norman Bailey; David Bowman (Baritone); John Brecknock (Tenor); Margaret Curphey (Soprano); Stafford Dean (Voice); Gregory Dempsey (Tenor); David Gray (Voice); Derek Hammond-Stroud (Baritone); Noël Mangin (Bass); Gerwyn Morgan; Julian Moyle (Baritone); Dino Pardi; Alberto Remedios (Tenor); Ann Robson (Mezzo Soprano); James Singleton (Double Bass); Eric Stannard (Bass); David Vocal]
  • Conductor: Reginald Goodall
  • Ensemble: Sadler's Wells Opera Orchestra
  • Running Time: 228 min. 31 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Form: Opera/Operetta
  • Written: 1862-1867
  • Studio/Live: Live