Wagner: Parsifal - Windgassen, Mödl, Hotter, Greindl, Neidlinger, Adam; Knappertsbusch. Bayreuth, 1954
Listen to a Sample:
As far as performances of Parsifal go, you can't get that much better than this. Wolfgang Windgassen takes on the title role and sings with assuredness and lyricism that he would not necessarily retain into the 60s. Martha Mödl brings all of her trademark intensity to Kundry and as an added bonus she could still legitimately sing it in 1954. It was a good reminder that before the vocal problems that would plague most of her career, she actually knew a thing or two about singing. Although it may be sacrilege to say so, I do not think that Amfortas is the ideal role for Hans Hotter. Although he was a superlative interpreter his voice, to my ears, is just a little too wooden to convey the absolute anguish of the character. Amfortas is not about stoicism it is about unending pain and torment. Josef Greindl is an avuncular Gurnemanz. It should come as no surprise to anyone that with Hans Knappertsbusch at the podium we are dealing with a longer evening than the usual Parsifal (which is pretty long to begin with.) The miracle about this conductor is that as a listener it is almost impossible to perceive of the music being slower. Ones feels their own heart rate actually slowing down with the pacing of the opera. The sound is excellent.