Wagner: Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg - Ridderbusch, Kollo, Janowitz, Schreier, Lagger, Leib, Meyer; Karajan. Salzburg, 1974
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A performance of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg is always an event, even if it is a revival. When you add Herbert von Karajan to the mix you know that you are in for a real spectacle, both aurally and visually. Karajan doesn’t disappoint in conveying the opulence and pomp of Wagner’s only comedy, but where he is at his best is during the intimate moments particularly the prelude to Act III. Karajan is able to evoke all of Hans Sachs’ wistfulness from the cello section of the Berlin Philharmonic who sing their line with no less intensity than the great singers on the stage. This is just one of the many memorable moments of this performance. Karl Ridderbusch gets a chance to show his softer side as Hans Sachs and reveals a musical sensitivity that I didn’t know he had in him. René Kollo is an ideal Walther von Stolzing combining the impetuous rashness as well as the poetic lyricism of the character. Gundula Janowitz brings a pure tone to the role of Eva but tends to tire vocally during some of the higher lying passages. In typical fashion, Karajan recruits some excellent singers for the smaller parts including Kerstin Meyer as Magdalene, Peter Lagger as Pogner, Manfred Jung as Eisslinger and in a bizarre turn he divides the two Night Watchman solos between two singer, the later taken by none other than Gerhard Stolze. The performance is captured in superb stereo sound.