Wagner: Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg - Schöffler, Seefried, Beirer, Frick, Kunz; Reiner. Wien, 1955
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Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg has had a troubled relationship throughout its history. Lovers of the opera will highlight its unsurpassed humanity and the genius of Wagner's formal structure of the work. Its detractors can't get passed Sach's act III monologue that smacks a little too close to third Reich ideology (despite being written a generation earlier.) This performance, however seems more about reconciliation. Taking place in Vienna just ten years after the end of the war, one senses an urgency in conveying the true meaning of this opera; a rhapsody for art, German and otherwise. There is a very moving spontaneous and prolonged ovation from the audience in Act III at the entrance of Hans Sachs. Who knows what on stage prompted this, but one senses the raw emotion both on stage and off it. Strong performances abound particularly from the Hans Sachs of Paul Schöffler. Irmgard Seefried is a winsome Evchen. Hans Beirer shows that besides the obvious heft of his voice, he know a thing or two about singing. His Preislied is both burnished and sweet and remarkably executed especially given the slow pacing of Fritz Reiner who otherwise leads an organic and spirited performance. The sound is excellent, however, as always, in the interests of full disclosure I will say that there is some mild clicking in the last CD comprising about 40 seconds total.