Humperdinck: Königskinder

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Humperdinck
LABELS: Profil Hanssler
ALBUM TITLE: Humperdinck – Königskinder
WORKS: Königskinder
PERFORMER: Thomas Moser, Dagmar Schellenberger, Dietrich Henschel, Marilyn Schmiege, Andreas Kohn, Heinrich Weber; Munich Choir Boys; Bavarian Radio Choir & Orchestra/Fabio Luisi
CATALOGUE NO: PH 05017
Engelbert Humperdinck’s fairytale opera about the goose-girl and the prince who are not recognised by the townsfolk as their king and queen is a powerfully moving indictment of materialism. Left to freeze and starve to death, they share their last crust. Unknown to them it’s poisoned.

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This wonderfully lyrical opera has only been recorded twice: on both occasions in conjunction with Bavarian Radio. Heinz Wallberg’s original 1977 EMI account has still not been surpassed, but is currently deleted. Fabio Luisi’s 1996 version, here reissued on Profil, is more than serviceable, however, and features a marginally more commanding Prince’s Son in the form of Thomas Moser. Dagmar Schellenberger as the Goose-girl lacks the touchingly girlish quality of EMI’s Helen Donath, but her flights of passion quicken the pulse.

A key role is that of the enigmatic Minstrel, who also has some of the best music. Dietrich Hensel dispatches the part stylishly, but one misses the mystery and throbbing poignancy that the incomparable Hermann Prey brought to it for EMI. The Witch is well done by Marilyn Schmiege, and the smaller roles are

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all acceptably sung. Fabio Luisi’s conducting is sensitive to the opera’s characterisation and rises to the score’s glorious mix of pathos and heightened lyricism. Barry Millington