In the summer of 1953 Walter Legge assembled an all-star cast for the very first studio recording of Humperdinck's finest opera, Hansel and Gretel. Herbert von Karajan was chosen to conduct, continuing the relationship that Legge had forged with him during the recordings of Le Nozze di Figaro and Die Zauberflöte in 1950. Legge used the orchestra he had himself founded after the war. The Philharmonia lacked a permanent conductor but successfully enticed guest conductors such as Furtwangler and Toscanini to perform with them in London. Karajan conducted the orchestra regularly in the early 1950s and this recording clearly reflects the comfortable familiarity between them.
The siblings, Hansel and Gretel, are sung by Elisabeth Grümmer and Elisabeth Schwarzkopf. While Schwarzkopf gives us all the clarity, precision and insight anyone could want, Grümmer gives us youthful innocence as well as a very credible boyish boldness in her singing. It’s a performance as Hansel that surely has never been bettered on record.
Also included are six bonus tracks of arias sung by Elisabeth Grümmer by Mozart and Richard Strauss. All the recordings have been XR remastered by Andrew Rose for Pristine, and rendered in Ambient Stereo for a superb listening experience.