Karl Elmendorff (1891-1962) was a stalwart of Bayreuth for fifteen years, from 1927; this was his last year on the Green hill. His reading of Götterdämmerung proves to be full of the wisdom of experience.
As critic Alan Blyth puts it in his program notes: “He evinces a grand overview of the Ring’s overwhelming conclusion, also a mastery in the important Wagnerian attribute of managing transformations, and he never lingers unnecessarily in the manner of some Wagner conductors today.”
Marta Fuchs was one of the ranking Brünnhildes of this era, and Set Svanhold, her Siegfried, became a regular Siegfried and Tristan at Covent Garden and also appeared at the Metropolitan in New York. His 1942 Siegfried was his only appearance at Bayreuth.
Activities were severely restricted at the Bayreuth Festival during World War II, but it is perhaps remarkable that any performances were possible at all given wartime restrictions. No doubt support from on high in the Nazi regime allowed the Bayreuth authorities, and more particularly Winifred Wagner, besotted as she was with the Führer, privileges not available to all artistic ventures in the latter days of the Third Reich. We already have evidence on CD of the superb performances of Die Meistersinger in 1943, under both Furtwängler and Abendroth, that seem to transcend the horrors of war, the artists seeming to forget what was happening in their country: by performing music of such inherent humanity, brutal events could somehow be put on one side. With the Ring’s final drama telling of the ultimate defeat of evil and aggrandizement, we are perhaps nearer the knuckle. However that may be, the Götterdämerung of 1942 also speaks of musical standards, on the whole, being preserved.
This is the second installment in an extensive series of coproductions with Deutsches Rundfunkarchiv to be distributed worldwide by Music & Arts. The first was RICHARD STRAUSS CONDUCTS HIS TONE POEMS-PREVIOUSLY UNISSUED 1936 – 1942 BROADCAST PERFORMANCES FROM GERMAN RADIO ARCHIVES. CD-1057(2), described in detail in our April Release Sheet. The series will feature historic recordings from 1932 to 1950 and will be released for the first time in authorized performances taken from the best sources, carefully reengineered, and presented with commentary from internationally recognized writers. Future volumes include hitherto unissued orchestral performances under Krauss, Abendroth, Furtwängler, Kabasta, Jochum, Schuricht, Knappertsbusch, and Celibidache; piano recitals by Gieseking, Arrau, and Kempff; and vocal performances featuring such outstanding artists of the past as Tiana Lemnitz, Michael Bohnen, Marcel Wittrisch, and Hans Hotter. Although material licensed from Deutsches Rundfunkarchiv has previously appeared on DGG, EMI, Tahra, Philips, and other labels, this is the first series of coproductions dedicated exclusively to mining the extensive historical collection of unissued broadcast performances held by Deutsches Rundfunkarchiv. Maggi Payne, internationally acclaimed sound engineer, is in charge of the technical restoration of the series.s
Richard Wagner: Götterdämmerung, From the performance of 21 July 1942 at the Bayreuth Festival CONDUCTED BY KARL ELMENDORFF Siegfried: Set Svanholm. Gunther: Egmont Koch. Hagen: Friedrich Dahlberg. Brünnhilde: Marta Fuchs. Gutrune: Else Fischer. Waltraute, 1. Norn: Camilla Kallab 2. Norn: Hildegard Jachnow 3. Norn: Charlotte Siewert. Woglinde: Hilde Scheppan. Wellgunde: Irmgard Langhammer. Flosshilde: Margary Booth.
Issued with the kind cooperation of Deutsches Rundfunkarchiv.
Cover Picture: Design by Emil Preetorius for Act II of Götterdämmerung . This and all photos inside courtesy of the Richard Wagner Museum, Bayreuth.