Author Topic: Wagner: Die Walkure Act 3 - Traubel, Janssens, Rodzinski 1945 Free Download  (Read 1543 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline bigshot

  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 697
  • Location: United States
Another free download of one of my transfers. Enjoy!

Wagner: Die Walkure Act 3
Artur Rodzinski & the Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra of New York
Helen Traubel, Herbert Janssen and the Vocal Ensemble of the Metropolitan Opera
Recorded November, 1945 in New York City


The war had wiped away any chance of completing the Vienna/Berlin set of Die Walkure abandoned by Victor in 1936. So Columbia records stepped into the breech with a recording of the final act produced in America. Even though this production can't match Bruno Walter's classic recording of Act 1, there is a lot to recommend it... in particular, the brilliant performance of the American soprano, Helen Traubel in the role she was born to play, Brunnhilde. Herbert Janssen, in his fifties by the time of this recording, was convinced to take on the role of Wotan, a part that was a bit heavy for his vocal range. But he succeeded in projecting the required nobility by bringing the thoughtful acting and beautiful phrasing of a seasoned Lieder singer to the remorseful God. The most pleasant surprise about this recording is the powerful and brilliant conducting of Artur Rodzinski, a conductor not normally thought of as a Wagnerian.

Helen Traubel was born in St. Louis in 1899 and made her debut with the St. Louis Symphony in 1923. Initially, she met resistance at the Metropolitan Opera because they already had a first class Wagnerian soprano in Kirsten Flagstad. But when Flagstad left the US for her homeland of Sweden for the duration, Traubel stepped into her shoes at the Met, making her mark in Tannhauser and Tristan und Isolde. But the role she was most identified with was Brunnhilde. Her voice has been described as a "gleaming sword", full of strength, endurance and purity of tone. Few singers match her in the part, much less surpass her performances as the lead Valkyrie. Traubel was forced out of the Metropolitan in the early 50s, when Rudolph Bing took exception to her performing in nightclubs. This snub propelled her into mainstream show business. She appeared at the Copacabana, in Las Vegas, and on television opposite many famous stars. She passed away in Santa Monica, CA in 1972.

Herbert Janssen was regarded as a truly great Wagnerian baritone by the mid-1920s, appearing at Bayreuth and Covent Garden as Wolfram. He left his native Germany in 1938 because of his objection to the Nazi government, and settling in New York, appeared at the Metropolitan Opera in many major roles. At first, he was reluctant to take on Wagner's demanding bass-baritone roles like Wotan and Hans Sachs. But he was convinced to adopt them after the retirement of Frederich Schorr in 1943. He was a regular performer at the Met until his retirement in 1953. He was a vocal coach in New York until he passed away in 1963.

Artur Rodzinski was born to Polish parents in 1894. He received a Doctorate of Law in 1916, but gave up pursuing a career in law for music. He made his conducting debut in Poland, but soon was working alongside Leopold Stokowski with the Philadelphia Orchestra. He was awarded the conductor's position in Los Angeles in 1929, and served there for four years. For the next decade, he was Conductor and Music Director of the Cleveland Philharmonic, before joining the New York Philharmonic. After leaving the Music Directorship in New York, he went to the Chicago Symphony, and passed away in 1958.

About The Source Material

Before WWII, Columbia records recorded directly to a 78 rpm wax master, simultaneously cutting a 33 1/3 rpm protection master. But wartime shortages, and the slump in the recording industry due to the record ban caused them to cut back on the number of masters they cut. They decided to record three or four sides at a time on a single 12 inch wax master at 33 1/3 rpm. This necessitated dubbing the selected takes to a 78 rpm master for production of the records. Dubbing degraded the sound quality significantly, but by late 1947, they were able to return to cutting directly to the 78 rpm and protection masters and the sound quality improved again. The records recorded in that brief wartime period were not heard with top quality sound until the debut of the long playing record in 1952. Act 3 of Die Walkure was the fifth long playing record released by Columbia. The sound on the LP was vastly superior to the original 78 rpm release, so that is the source I have used to master this CD.

There is a minor drawback though... Since recording tape had not yet been put into use by Columbia, the roughly four minute segments from the 33 1/3 master had to be joined on the fly as the LP was cut. It was difficult to make the side joins flawlessly, and on this recording there is one abrupt edit and another where the pitch shifted a little bit as one record was stopped and the other was started. Rather than try to cut and splice using the inferior 78 rpm issue and risk adding another layer of editing anomaly, I have left the joins as they are on the record. Also, there is a short section of one track where the record was slightly damaged. I have minimized the noise, but was unable to completely eliminate it. These minor problems shouldn't interfere with your enjoyment of the performance in the least.