Humperdinck: Hänsel und Gretel

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Humperdinck
LABELS: EMI Studio
WORKS: Hänsel und Gretel
PERFORMER: Hermann Prey, Ilse Gramatzki, Eugen Hug, Brigitte Lindner, Edda Moser, Ursula Roleff, Thomas Frohn; Cologne Children’s Choir, Gürzenich Orchestra/Heinz Wallberg
CATALOGUE NO: CMS 7 69669 2 ADD (Reissue, 1974)
Humperdinck’s fairy-tale opera is about children, but essentially for adults. Wielding a mighty Wagnerian apparatus with delicacy, he threw a rich assortment of German Romantic musical imagery together in a blend that miraculously retains an essential innocence and avoids becoming kitsch.

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This 1974 recording makes a feature of non-adult performers, not only as the folk-dancing, witch-molesting children but as the Sandman and Dew Fairy too. Effective though this might be on stage, on disc the preponderanceof piping trebles can be wearing.An over-the-top child-munching Witch from Edda Moser, a particularly cross Mother (Ilse Gramatzki) and a jovial Father (Hermann Prey) complete the cast.

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Heinz Wallberg draws a lovely warm sound from his orchestra, though his witches ride at a rather well-behaved pace. The sound is three-dimensional but there are occasional problems of balance, and the voices have a curiously appliqué quality. George Hall