Academic journal article ARSC Journal

Testament

Academic journal article ARSC Journal

Testament

Article excerpt

Testament has issued a previously unpublished live performance of Wagner's Parsifal conducted by Rudolf Kempe at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden on 16 June 1959 (SBT4 1455, www.harmoniamundi.com). The cast is generally solid, headed by Gottlob Frick's noble portrayal of Gurnemanz and a most moving Amfortas by Eberhard Waechter, both beautifully sung. Otakar Kraus offers a most imposing performance as Klingsor, after a somewhat rough vocal start in Act II. Karl Liebl possessed a rather small voice by heldentenor standards, and he's overextended in some of the more taxing passages, particularly in the Second Act. Yet he offers a sensitive and convincing characterization of the title role, a solid "house" standard rather than a world-class one (he was replaced by Jon Vickers for the last two performances that season). Gerda Lammers is undistinguished as Kundry, her thin voice often troubled by unsteadiness. The real star of this performance is Kempe who, while eschewing the weight and breadth of Hans Knappertsbusch, nonetheless avoids Clemens Krauss's tendency to rush this score. Kempe's approach is more relaxed than Krauss, though there's no loss of urgency in the opera's more dramatic moments, particularly the Klingsor/Kundry scene in Act II. Overall, Kempe offers a beautifully paced, musically coherent performance. …

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