Humperdinck: Hansel And Gretel / Cotrubas, Von Stade
I had remembered the Wagnerian bite and power of Solti's reading, but the warmth of Pritchard's is much more apt for this lovely work, and comes out all the more sympathetically on CD. With beautifully pointed playing from the Gurzenich Orchestra, rhythmically resilient, conveying the impression of performers who know the piece in the theatre, Pritchard is the one who consistently conjures up a more genial, more winning tone of voice. I even find Pritchard's relatively relaxed reading of the Witch's Ride—prompting the one reservation made by LS over the conducting in his very favourable original review—has points of advantage over Solti's fierceness... In particular I have been struck even more than before how delicately Ileana Cotrubas and Frederica von Stade characterize the two children, conveying freshness and childish innocence, while in fact exercising the most sophisticated vocal control...
As LS said, there is not a weak link in the Pritchard cast, with a very distinctive Witch from Elisabeth Söderström, strongly characterized, even caricatured but without the grotesqueries of such a traditional mezzo as Anny Schlemm on Decca. The element of rawness in Christa Ludwig's singing as the Mother gives an apt bite to the character, while Nimsgern is an upstanding Father, firmer, less middle-aged than most... Some of the most ravishing singing of all comes from Dame Kin Te Kanawa as the Sandman.
-- Gramophone [11/1988]
Catalog Number: SONY79217
Composer: Engelbert Humperdinck
Conductor: John Pritchard
Orchestra/Ensemble: Cologne Gürzenich Orchestra
Performer: Christa Ludwig, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Elisabeth Söderström, Frederica Von Stade, Ileana Cotrubas, Ruth Welting, Siegmund Nimsgern