Knappertsbusch: Wagner – Parsifal, Bayreuth 1962 (4 CD, APE)
Knappertsbusch: Wagner – Parsifal, Bayreuth 1962 (4 CD, APE)

Orchestra: Bayreuth Festival Orchestra
Conductor: Hans Knappertsbusch
Composer: Richard Wagner
Audio CD
SPARS Code: A-D
Number of Discs: 4
Format: APE (image+cue)
Label: Philips
Size: 1.11 GB
Recovery: +3%
Scan: no

Amfortas: George London
Titurel: Martti Talvela
Gurnemanz: Hans Hotter
Parsifal: Jess Thomas
Klingsor: Gustav Neidlinger
Kundry: Irene Dalis
Gralsritter 1: Niels Moller
Gralsritter 2: Gerd Nienstedt
Knappen 1: Sona Uervena
Knappen 2: Ursula Boese
Knappen 3: Gerhard Stolze
Knappen 4: Georg Paskuda
Blumen 1: Gundula Janowitz
Blumen 2: Anja Silja
Blumen 3: Else-Margrete Gardelli
Blumen 4: Dorothea Siebert
Blumen 5: Rita Bart
Blumen 6: Sona Cervena

CD 1
01. Vorspiel
02. ‘He! Ho! Waldhuter ihr’
03. ‘Seht dort, die wilde Reiterin!’
04. ‘Recht so! – Habt Dank! – Ein wenig Rast’
05. ‘Nicht Dank! – Haha! Was wird es helfen?’
06. ‘O wunden-wendervoller heiliger Speer!’
07. ‘Titurel, der fromme Held’
08. ‘Weh! Heh!’
09. ‘Nun sag’! Nichts weisst du, was ich dich frage’

CD 2
01. ‘Vom Bade kehrt der Koning heim’
02. Verwandlungsmusik
03. ‘Nun achte wohl und lass mich seh’n’
04. ‘Mein Sohn Amfortas, bist du am Amt?’
05. ‘Wehvolles Erbe, dem ich verfallen’
06. ‘Enthullet den Gral!’
07. ‘Wein und Brot des letzten Mahles’
08. ‘Auszug der Ritter’
09. Vorspiel
10. ‘Ho! Ihr Wachter!’
11. ‘Hier war das Tosen!’

CD 3
01. ‘Komm, komm, holder Knabe!’
02. ‘Parsifal! – Weile!’
03. ‘Dies alles – hab’ ich nun getraumt?’
04. ‘Ich sah das Kind an seiner Mutter Brust’
05. ‘Wehe! Wehe! Was tat ich?’
06. ‘Amfortas! – Die Wunde!’
07. ‘Grausamer! Fuhlst du im Herzen’
08. ‘Vergeh, unseliges Weib!’
09. Vorspiel
10. ‘Von dorther kam das Stohnen’

Also available:  Stiedry: Wagner - Der Ring Des Nibelungen 1951 (11 CD box set, FLAC)

CD 4
01. ‘Heil dir, mein Gast!’
02. ‘Heil mir, dass ich dich wiederfinde!’
03. ‘Zu ihm, des tiefe Klagen’
04. ‘O Herr! War es ein Fluch’
05. ‘Nicht so! – Die heil’ge Quelle selbst’
06. ‘Gesegnet sei, du Reiner, durch das Reine!’
07. Karfreitstagzauber
08. ‘Du siehst, das ist nicht so’
09. ‘Mittag – Die Stund’ ist da’
10. ‘Geleiten wir im bergenden Schrein’
11. ‘Ja, Wehe! Wehe! Weh uber mich!’
12. ‘Nur eine Waffe taugt’
13. ‘Hochsten Heiles Wunder!’

The best of Bayreuth

In the ever growing world of live recordings from the Bayreuth Festival, this 1962 Parsifal is probably the best as a whole. In no other recording is the unique Bayreuth sound so well captured as it is here (it’s too bad that the recordings of Lohengrin and Tannhäuser from the same year (both also on Philips) aren’t available domestically!)
Knappertbusch was THE supreme conductor of Parsifal, and his performances were one of the highlights of the festival for years. Here he is flawless, leading with perfect pacing and balance, setting the standard for how it should be done. Though this performance is a full 20 minutes shorter than his equally famous 1951 reading, tempos are hardly ever rushed (there are one or two spots where I wish he had eased back just a hair). With a better orchestra than in ’51, a chorus at it’s legendary best, and far better engineering, Kna pretty much broke the mold on what the perfect Parsifal should be!
In the title role, Jess Thomas sings with restraint and intelligence, the top notes ringing out perfectly without the typical steely baritonal tenor voice we hear so often. He is surely one of the finest Parsifals on record, although top honors belongs to Jon Vickers two years later.
Irene Dalis may not be the most profound or tortured of Kundrys, but vocally she is up for the task and does just fine.
George London is superior dramatically to his ’51 performance, albeit with some strain from a bit of wear and tear.
Neidlinger is, as John Egolf wrote, “his usual maniacal self”…but what can one expect from a lusty self-castrated grail knight forced into exile with Kundry as his sole companion??
The supporting roles are all taken by a who’s who of veteran singers…Talvela, Stolze, Janowitz, Silja, Nienstedt et al., and all of them are wonderful!
Top honors surely belongs to the great bass-baritone Hans Hotter, here at what turned out to be the mid point of his career. Anyone who has heard Hotter substantially in live recordings knows how varied his singing could be due to his respiratory ailments, but here he is at his Bayreuth best. Unfairly criticized for being a baritone singing a bass role (he had been singing roles such as Boris, the Grand Inquisitor and Marke all through the 50’s), Hotter gives, as Deryk Cooke says “the performance of his life”, adding the abundance of vocal color and nuance that only a master of German Lied could offer. This is truly on of the best Gurnemanz’s on record.
The chorus is as about ideal as one could hope for, and they are so perfectly recorded by the Philips engineers.
With all the Bayreuth Parsifals appearing on CD, there may be a few better moments here and there, but as a whole, between performers and technicians, there will probably never be a better recording.

9 Comments

  1. Great Wagner, great Knappertsbusch. Thank you very much, Whatever.

  2. Wow, my first time hearing Parsifal! It is wonderful, thanks. Next up: Tristan und Isolde.

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