Wagner: Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg - Schöffler, Suthaus, Scheppen, Kunz, Dalberg; Abendroth. Bayreuth, 1943
Listen to a Sample:
This performance of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg is extremely valuable for both musical and historical reasons. Musically it is exceptional. Paul Schöffler is in superb form. His voice is both warm and attractive and never seems to tire. His diction is superb and his connection to what he sings never wanes no matter whatever the vocal challenges that lay before him. It is remarkable how Ludwig Suthaus is able to scale back his oversized tenor to deliver a truly nuanced and even sweet (how often does one use that work to describe a Heldentenor?) performance. Erich Kunz delivers a wonderfully colorful performance as Beckmesser. True he sometimes nears the point of caricature but he never comes across as villainous, just incredibly self-absorbed and ultimately loveable. Hermann Abendroth's tempi are crisp and keep this wonderfully human comedy moving at all times. The darker side of this set is that it was recorded during the Nazi's reign in Germany. In fact the Nazis produced a propaganda film showing Hitler at Bayreuth for a performance from this run. Historians may find this interesting but there is nothing "Nazi" about this performance. And even though Meistersinger can be troubling due to the racist undertones of the character of Beckmesser, this performances seems free of any political dogma. It is simply great Wagner singing. The sound is very good.