Magazine article Gramophone

Bayreuth: The Cosima Era

Magazine article Gramophone

Bayreuth: The Cosima Era

Article excerpt

At first glance I felt a pang of excitement at the thought of supplementing Gebhardt's enterprising '100 Years of Bayreuth on Record: The Early Festival Singers 1876-1906' (2004) with a similar collection featuring as many different records. Not so. 'The Cosima Era' is in fact the same box. Still, if you missed this major historic collection first time around, here's your chance to catch up--and I can guarantee revelations along the way. Yes, most of the recordings involve singing into an acoustic recording horn, with resultant limitations in terms of the piano or orchestral accompaniments. But the ear soon adjusts. Many of the voices come through with remarkable clarity--and what a privilege to hear a 15-minute sequence from Act 1 of Die Walkure recorded as long ago as 1910, with the sonorous-voiced Paul Knupfer as Hunding. Generally speaking, the impression is that what we hear are actors who can sing rather than singers who can act, but for me the real discovery was Alfred von Bary (disc 8, trs 19 and 20), Cosima's favourite tenor and someone whose approach to Wagner approximates more to a bel canto style than most other singers included in the set. …

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