Gustav Neidlinger = Arias by MOZART, VERDI, WAGNER, R. STRAUSS – with various soloists & conductors – Preiser

by | Jan 29, 2011 | Classical Reissue Reviews | 0 comments

Gustav Neidlinger = MOZART: The Gardener of Love: 2 Arias; Don Giovanni: Ho capito, Signor, si; VERDI: Aria from The Force of Destiny; WAGNER: Arias from Die Meistersinger; Das Rheingold; Siegfried; Gotterdammerung; Die Walkuere; R. STRAUSS: “Da lieg’ ich” from Der Rosenkavalier – Gustav Neidlinger, bass-baritone/Rudolf Schock, tenor/ Erich Witte, tenor /Hans Hotter, baritone/Josef Greindl, bass/ Sieglinde Wagner, contralto/Conductors: Rolf Reinhardt/ Clemens Krauss/Leopold Ludwig/Hans Knappertsbusch/ Rudolf Kempe/Wilhelm Schuchter/ Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt

Preiser 93475, 79:45 [Distr. By Albany] ****:

It was German Heldentenor Max Lorenz who first recognized the lofty heroic baritone roles for which Gustav Neidlinger (1910-1991) appeared born to fulfill–eventually realized–in his twenty seasons at the Bayreuth Festival and a quarter century of appearances at the world’s great opera houses. Gifted with brilliantly clear diction and a range that easily moved between baritone and basso, Neidlinger seemed fated to sing the spiteful Alberich in Wagner’s Ring Cycle, a role that defined him despite his natural capacity to extend beyond its narrow dramatic possibilities. Rarely cast as Wotan, the few documents that testify to his talent in this commanding character argue that Neidlinger could rival his friend Hans Hotter for power and projection.

The four bands of this Preiser release (1950-1952) give us excerpts from Mozart and Verdi, baritone roles that display vocal lyricism and a capacity even for patter figures (in Mozart) that well suit Neidlinger in buffo roles. The Verdi (in German) from Radio Hamburg (1952) under Schmidt-Isserstedt adds more breadth in the vocal range, alternately stentorian and martially spirited. The role of Baron Ochs in Der Rosenkavalier (1955, with Sieglinde Wagner) well suits Neidlinger, who brings a pathetic bluster to the old man’s vain efforts at seduction, voluptuously underlined by Schuchter’s fervent conducting of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra.

With the Meistersinger aria from 1956 under Kempe we have a richer tonal world, the voice already tinged with basso color and authority, an etude on the melismatic “tablature” of the vocal contest which dominates the plot. The 1953 Bayreuth Festival has Clemens Kraus at the helm in Das Rheingold and Siegfried, and Neidlinger in his element as Alberich, sharing the stage with Erich Witte and Hans Hotter, and Hotter and Josef Greindl, respectively. The dark “forge” motif of the Nibelungen haunts the Rheingold scene, rife with the guilt of the gods who will steal their source of power, a crime which the mortal Siegfried must redeem. Alberich, having forsaken love, alternately vaunts his pride and reveals his vulnerability to the wiles of the gods. Neidlinger manages some chilling effects without any sign of strain, the low tessitura quite grating with its Sprechstimme. In the Twilight of the Gods excerpt from the 1957 Bayreuth Festival under Knappertsbusch–”Schaefst du, Hagen, mein Sohn?”–Alberich approaches the morally loathsome Hagen with the proposition that they shall wrest power from Wotan, provided Hagen remains loyal to Alberich, his father. The convocation of dark voices reaches a mighty culmination in the Siegfried excerpt–Neidlinger, Hotter, and Greindl–enacting the cave sequence of the Wanderer, Alberich, and Fafner, “In Wald und Nacht vor Neidhoehl’ halt’ich Wacht,” in which the Hate motif and The Curse motif pit Wotan’s F Minor chords against the B Minor tragedy that the series of (serpentine) betrayals invokes.

Finally, we relish the rare opportunity to hear Neidlinger in the most poignant of Wotan’s moments, his fiery farewell to his daughter in The Valkyrie from 1958 under Schuchter at the Berlin State Opera. With heroic pathos to spare, Neidlinger intones the heaving resignation of his paternal agony, only to invoke Loki to surround Brunnhilde with magic fire. Consonant with the other Wotan’s Farewell performances from the period–George London, Hermann Uhde, and Hans Hotter–Neidlinger achieves a monumental vocal stature, each musical period rising to the complement of pain in Wagner’s strings and horns in the Valhalla motif. Convulsive and piquant at once, the enunciation devastating in its tortured clarity. I’ve auditioned this performance twice already, and I cherish it as I have the Tibbett/Stokowski, Hermann Uhde/ Dimitri Mitropoulos, and London/Knappertsbusch, and this one proves even more ardent and heart-wrenching.

— Gary Lemco

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