About this Recording
8.111128-31 - WAGNER: Meistersinger von Nurnberg (Die) (Schoeffler, Gueden, VPO, Knappertsbusch) (1950-1951)
English 

Richard Wagner (1813-1883)
Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
Comic Opera in Three Acts

Hans Sachs, cobbler - Paul Schoeffler (bass-baritone)
Veit Pogner, goldsmith - Otto Edelmann (bass)
Kunz Vogelgesang, furrier - Hugo Meyer-Welfing (tenor)
Konrad Nachtigall, tinsmith - Wilhelm Felden (bass)
Sixtus Beckmesser, town clerk - Karl Dönch (baritone)
Fritz Kothner, baker - Alfred Poell (baritone)
Balthasar Zorn, pewterer - Erich Majkut (tenor)
Ulrich Eisslinger, grocer - William Wergnick (tenor)
Augustin Moser, tailor - Hermann Gallos (tenor)
Hermann Ortel, soapmaker - Harald Pröglhöf (bass)
Hans Schwarz, stocking-weaver - Franz Bierbach (bass)
Hans Foltz, coppersmith - Ljubomir Pantscheff (bass)
Walther von Stolzing, a young Franconian knight - Gunther Treptow (tenor)
David, Sachs' apprentice - Anton Dermota (tenor)
Eva, Pogner's daughter - Hilde Gueden (soprano)
Magdalena, her nurse - Else Schürhoff (soprano)
A Night Watchman - Harald Pröglhöf (bass)

Vienna State Opera Chorus
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Hans Knappertsbusch

Recorded 2-9 September, 1950 (Act 2)
and 11-22 September, 1951 (Acts 1 and 3) in the Musikvereinsaal, Vienna

First issued on Decca LXT 2646/7 (Act 1), 2560/1 (Act 2) and 2648/9 (Act 3)
Reissue Producer and Audio Restoration Engineer: Mark Obert-Thorn

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Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg embraces the daily life, the bustle, the humanity and diverse characters of the medieval city of Nuremberg in the sixteenth century. Some of the characters Wagner chose were in fact based on real people: Hans Sachs (1494-1576) and Konrad Nachtigall. The Guild movement had developed during earlier centuries through various craftsmen's organizations. They would continue until the late 19th century, by which time they had virtually disappeared and new labour organizations in the form of trades unions would supplant the original Guilds. Although Gyrowetz and Lortzing had both composed earlier versions of a similar story that featured the hero Hans Sachs in 1834 and 1840, Wagner was undaunted by this fact. He depicts accurately the rigidity and pedantic rules that governed the weekly Sunday meetings of the Guilds, held after morning church services. Competitions took place and prizes were awarded with members promoted into various classes. In a letter to Mathilde Wesendonk dated 3 February 1862, Wagner remarked: "even the titles of the mastersongs and their melodies are, with the exception of a few invented by me, genuine: on the whole I am amazed by what I am able to make from just a few notes". This was to be the only occasion on which the composer used so directly an historical source, in this case, Johann Christoph Wagenseil's Buch von der Meistersinger holdseligen Kunst. Wagner used the names of the 12 old Nuremberg Masters, the titles of the songs, the strict rules for song composition, the exhaustive list of mistakes, penalties and the technical expressions. The libretto, by the composer himself, even makes use of historical texts. It is some aspects of the final text that would come to taint Wagner and his posthumous reputation by the highjacking via the National Socialist party for their ideals of a greater freer Germany.

In the case of the music, Wagner also attempted to create a language that fitted in with 16th-century Nuremberg, but brought it forward two centuries: the composer described his style as 'applied Bach'. For example: the procession across the meadow is replete with dotted rhythms recalling the style of a French overture. Then if there is the feel of the old in the chorale in Act I Scene 1 'Das zu dir der Heiland kam', it is Wagner looking back but using his own musical language. The inclusion of a passacaglia in the concluding pages of the opening Prelude can be observed, as the formal nature of the opening of the Quintet in Act III Scene 4.

The plot is inspired by the life of Hans Sachs, the cobbler-poet, who is also a significant member of the Mastersingers' Guild. Then there is the knight Walther von Stolzing who desires to marry Eva, and her goldsmith father Veit Pogner. The latter has decided to give her hand to the winner of a song competition who must also learn the complex rules of the craft guild. Walther is helped by Sachs, and is declared the eventual winner, despite the absurd antics of the Town Clerk, Beckmesser.

The score remains one of the greatest achievements in Wagner's composing career, incorporating an allegory of his own struggle for his individuality and ongoing radical ideas within a very human comedy: it could be said to reconcile tradition with innovation. That opening 'great' C major chord of the opening Prelude and development of the principal themes are handled with remarkable skill and show that reconciliation is the true overriding theme of the whole opera. It is a composition that displays Wagner's beauty of workmanship and texture together with an almost inexhaustible variety of symphonic invention. Little wonder therefore the opera continues to remain in the standard repertory.

It was in 1845 that Wagner first sketched a scenario, ten years after he had visited Nuremberg with his brother-in-law at the age of 22. The work occupied Wagner with many interruptions until 1867. The première of the complete opera eventually took place at the Munich Court Opera on 21 June 1868.

With the introduction of tape-recording in early 1950, the Decca Record Company had begun recording complete operas in Vienna in June that year, beginning with Die Entführung aus dem Serail under Josef Krips. The next opera, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, was planned for September that same year. In fact only Act II was initially planned, and, if successful, Acts I and III would be made the following year. It was to be the first complete studio recording of the opera. (Back in 1938, EMI's German affiliate Electrola had recorded Act III in Dresden, and, but for the outbreak of World War II, had planned to record the other two acts the following year but this never happened.).

In the years following the return to peace in Europe, Decca's classical recording director Maurice Rosengarten, who was based in Zürich, had slowly signed up an impressive roster of artists. These included Hans Knappertsbuch, Paul Schoeffler, Hilde Gueden, Gunther Treptow and, the prize of all, the Vienna Philharmonic, which hitherto had been the exclusive property of EMI. Thus plans were put in place to record the Wagner opera in Vienna with many of these contracted artists. As the producer of this recording, Victor Olof, wrote some years later; "This was indeed a massive undertaking involving an orchestra of 95 musicians, a stage band, a chorus of a hundred or more voices and a cast of 17 singers of the State Opera. This was a veritable army for a producer to control single-handedly, and our modest [recording] equipment of four channels was put to the limit of its power".

During the original sessions, which took place in the Grosser Saal of the Musikverein, Paul Schoeffler became ill. It was out of the question to cancel the recording, so Olof was obliged to carry on and edit in the soloist's part when he had recovered and was free to sing. In those early years of fairly primitive tape editing such an undertaking was no mean feat.

The conductor chosen for this enterprise was Hans Knappertsbusch, who started recording for Decca in 1947, having earlier built up an enviable reputation as a Wagnerian conductor. He was also somewhat bohemian in manner with a very ready wit, at times a trifle risqué. Olof recalled that on one occasion during the sessions that he felt the double basses were rather too loud, to which the conductor wickedly replied: "Good, I'll go and kill off a couple!"

Decca chose Paul Schoeffler (1897-1977) as the cobbler Hans Sachs, by general consent the finest exponent of the rôle at that time of the recording, born in Dresden, where he first studied before moving to Milan to work with Marco Sammarco. His début was as the Herald in Lohengrin in Dresden in 1925, the following year becoming a member of that company, remaining until 1938. From there he moved to the Vienna State Opera until he retired in 1970. His London début was as Donner in 1934 at Covent Garden where he would sing until 1953; he first appeared in 1938 at Salzburg, where he sang regularly until 1965. Schoeffler made his first American appearance at the Metropolitan Opera in New York in 1950 after which he continued for nine seasons until 1964. In addition to creating the title-rôle in Gottfried von Einem's Dantons Tod in 1947 and Jupiter in Strauss's Die Liebe der Danae in 1952, both at Salzburg, his repertoire also included Don Giovanni, Scarpia, Amfortas, Kurwenal, Pizarro, Iago, Orest, Wotan and the Grand Inquisitor. He also sang in the 1950s in San Francisco. After retiring he came to live in Britain, where his sister was married to the English conductor Mark Lubbock. He died in Amersham, Buckinghamshire.

For the rôle of the goldsmith Veit Pogner the Viennese bass-baritone Otto Edelmann (1917-2003) was selected. He had studied at the Vienna Akademie and made his début in Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro in Gera in 1937. For the following three seasons he was a member of Nuremberg Opera. Drafted into the German army, Edelmann was later captured and imprisoned as a prisoner of war by the Soviets. Eventually released, he joined the Vienna State Opera in 1947 and remained with the Company for 36 years. His career also took him to the stages of La Scala, Munich, Covent Garden, the Metropolitan, as well as the festivals in Bayreuth, Edinburgh and Salzburg. He sang Hans Sachs at Bayreuth in 1951, an interpretation which can be found on Naxos (8.110872-75). Another notable recording included Ochs in Der Rosenkavalier under Karajan in 1956. Later he turned more to teaching and in 1982 was appointed Professor of Singing at the Akademie in Vienna. His sons Paul Armin and Peter have both enjoyed careers as baritone singers.

Karl Dönch (1915-1994) was born in Gaen, Austria, and died in Vienna. He spent virtually all his career as a member of the Staatsoper in Vienna, graduating from the chorus to smaller rôles, which included Bartolo in Il barbiere di Siviglia, Melitone in La forza del destino, Faninal in Der Rosenkavalier and Beckmesser in Die Meistersinger. He first sang at the Salzburg Festival in 1951 and later appeared in Berlin and Buenos Aires. Dönch created Leiokritris in Frank Martin's Penelope, St. Just in Dantons Tod (Gottfried von Einem) and sang in premières of Die Zaubertrank and Der Sturm, both by Frank Martin. His recordings include Die Fledermaus (Naxos 8.111036-7).

The tenor Gunther Treptow (1907-1981) was born and died in Berlin. Originally he studied as a baritone but moved up to become a tenor, making his début as the Italian Tenor in Der Rosenkavalier in Berlin in 1936. He was employed later by the Volksoper in Vienna where he sang the rôles of Florestan, Max, von Stolzing and Pedro in D'Albert's Tiefland. His career was confined to Germany during the war years but he returned to Vienna in 1947. This was followed by appearances in Italy (Bologna and Venice) and the Metropolitan in New York in 1951, the same year in which he sang at the re-opened Bayreuth Festival. His later career was one that took him to all parts of the musical globe. He retired from the stage in 1971.

The Yugoslav-born tenor Anton Dermota (1910-1989) first studied piano and composition in Ljubljana before starting vocal studies in Vienna. Making his début in Cluj (formerly Klausenberg) in 1934 in Die Zauberflöte, he was engaged by Bruno Walter for the Vienna State Opera during the 1936/7 season. He appeared in Paris under Walter in November 1937, singing in Mozart's Requiem and Bruckner's Te Deum, followed by the Salzburg Festival the following year. A decade later he appeared in London with the visiting Vienna Company (with whom he sang for 40 years). Dermota sang Florestan at the opening of the rebuilt Staatsoper in Vienna in the autumn of 1955. His career also embraced engagements in Rome, Naples, Czechoslovakia and Hungary. From 1966 onwards he taught singing and coached at the Vienna Akademie. In 1980 he sang Tamino in Die Zauberflöte to mark his 70th birthday. Dermota was a greatly admired Mozartian, in the direct line of Patzak and Tauber. He also enjoyed a parallel career in the concert hall, often appearing with his wife Hilde as his accompanist.

The Viennese-born soprano Hilde Gueden (1917-1988) studied at her native city's Conservatory in addition to piano and dancing, first appearing in Robert Stolz's operetta Servus, servus in 1934, before making her operatic début as Cherubino in Zürich in 1939. She then appeared in Munich (1941-42) as Sophie, Despina and Zerlina, followed by Vienna (1946-1973) and the Salzburg Festival in 1946. She sang with the Viennese company on their London visit in 1947. Gueden made her American début as Gilda in Rigoletto at the Metropolitan in November 1951. She sang at this house until 1960, her rôles there including Anne Truelove in Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress, Rosalinde in Die Fledermaus, Sophie, Mimì, Zdenka, Zerlina and Susanna. Equally at home in opera and operetta, her repertoire also embraced a number of contemporary works. An extremely glamorous and intelligent person, she also displayed a fine stage presence.

The German contralto Else Schürhoff (1898-1961) was born in Wuppertal and studied in Berlin where she made her début in 1928. Joining the Hanover Opera in 1929, she moved to Munich in 1937 before working at the Staatsoper in Vienna from 1941 until 1953. She then became a member of the Hamburg Company until retirement. Thus, her career was spent almost exclusively in German-speaking countries. In addition to this Meistersinger with Knappertsbusch, she also appeared in complete recordings of Salome with Clemens Krauss (Naxos 8.111014-15), Die Fledermaus (Naxos 8.111036-37) and Hänsel und Gretel (Naxos 8.110897-98), the latter two under Karajan.

The German conductor Hans Knappertsbusch (1888-1965) was born in Eberfeld. He first studied philosophy before turning to music at the Cologne Conservatory under Fritz Steinbach and Otto Lohse (1909-12). His career began at Mühlheim in 1911 in the Ruhr, soon followed by a post in Bochum, and from 1913-18 he worked as conductor in his native Eberfeld. He then moved to Leipzig and in 1922 became General Music Director at the Bavarian State Opera, a position he held until 1936 when he was dismissed by the Nazi régime. He first appeared in London at the Royal Opera House in 1937 conducting Salome. He also conducted at the Salzburg and Zürich Festival at this time, before working in Vienna from 1936 until 1938 and intermittently during the war years, 1946-1950. He then based himself in Munich after 1954. His special affinity with Wagner came to a wider public with his regular appearances at the Bayreuth Festival first with Parsifal and the Ring (both of which exist in a number of live recordings). He famously abhorred rehearsals and never really felt at ease in the recording studio. He was first and foremost a man of the theatre, working in the sunken pit at Bayreuth away from public gaze. At his finest he was able to generate dramatic excitement over long spans of musical form.

When Act II was originally released in February 1951, The Gramophone commented of the singers that "Paul Schoeffler is a fine and wise Sachs, Hilde Gueden is a charmingly naïve Eva, Otto Edelmann is one of the best exponents of Pogner I have heard, Karl Dönch never clowns as Beckmesser, and Else Schürhoff makes a mature Magdalene". Of the conductor it was remarked: "Hans Knappertsbusch and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra play the wonderful score with complete understanding and love".

Malcolm Walker

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Synopsis

Act I

[CD 1 / Track 1] In the Prelude leitmotifs are heard, including those associated with the Mastersingers, Walther's love, the Mastersinger Guild, conventional art, youthful fervour, and love and passion, some finally combining.

Scene 1

[1/2] The first act opens in the church of St Katharine. During the service Eva, daughter of the goldsmith Veit Pogner, and the young knight Walther von Stolzing catch each other's eye, both of them equally captivated, while the congregation sings the final chorale.

[1/3] The service ends and the people start to leave. Walther breaks through to meet Eva, who manages to send her nurse Magdalena back to look for Eva's kerchief. Walther asks Eva if she is already betrothed. Magdalena explains that Eva is pledged to the winner of the coming song contest of the Mastersingers. Magdalena's sweetheart David, Hans Sachs' apprentice, who has started to mark out the place for the coming preliminary test of the singers, is persuaded to teach Walther the rules of the contest. Walther promises to do his utmost to win the contest and Eva's hand and tells her that he will come to see her in the evening.

Scene 2

[1/4] Apprentices bring benches for the Mastersingers and call on David to help, while he explains to Walther how he has combined his study of shoe-making with that of the rules of singing. He demonstrates the different tunes and tones of the art and how to sing them. He has been taught by his master, Hans Sachs, but explains the procedure by which one must become a singer and a poet before one can become a Master, able to invent new melodies and words. He tells him of the function of the marker, who is to sit hidden by a curtain, chalking up every mistake, more than seven of which will disqualify the contestant. With a hint of irony David wishes Walther good luck. The apprentices, who have started to dance, echoing David's sentiments, scatter as Pogner and Beckmesser, the Town Clerk, enter.

Scene 3

[1/5] The scene is now set for the contest. Pogner promises to support Beckmesser. Walther rises from his seat and approaches Pogner, whom he already knows. He tells him that love of the art has brought him to Nuremberg and that he wants to become a Mastersinger. Pogner welcomes the gesture, while Beckmesser regards the proceedings with some suspicion, resolving to serenade Eva himself and win her favour. The Masters gather.

[1/6] Fritz Kothner, the baker, calls the names of those summoned to the trial.

[1/7] Pogner addresses them, reminding them how they celebrate the Feast of St John, at midsummer, with an outdoor singing contest, to show the importance the citizens attach to art, not merely seekers after money; for the competition the next day he offers the hand of his daughter Eva in marriage, together with all his goods.

[1/8] Pogner adds that the winner must have Eva's consent to marriage; if she refuse, then she must remain for ever unwed, since she is pledged to marry only a Mastersinger. Hans Sachs suggests that the contest should be decided by the people. The Masters have their misgivings about this radical proposal and Pogner's original offer is accepted, while Sachs and Beckmesser dispute, Sachs declaring that Eva deserves a younger husband than Beckmesser. Pogner presents Walther as a new candidate for the contest, arousing Beckmesser's suspicions. The question is raised of Walther's background, answered by Pogner. Kothner then asks Walther to name his teacher in the art of song.

[1/9] Walther claims the great medieval poet-singer Walther von der Vogelweide as his teacher, while in spring he listened to the birds, claims that are greeted contemptuously by Beckmesser. Walther is asked to sing, and proposes a song of love, which Beckmesser, the Marker, prepares to fault at every turn, reminding him that after seven faults any further mistake will lead to failure.

[1/10] Kothner reads out the rules of composition of a master-song, its sections, verses, rhymes and melodic form. Walther sits in the singer's chair, and Beckmesser calls for him to begin.

[CD 2 / Track 1] Walther begins, singing of the start of spring through the countryside. He contrasts this with winter, while Beckmesser's chalk continues to be heard, as the Marker records the mistakes. Walther continues his song, now a celebration of love. Eventually Beckmesser interrupts, showing his slate, covered with chalk marks. Pogner would hear Walther, but the other Mastersingers agree with Beckmesser, finding no sense in Walther's song.

[2/2] They are interrupted by Hans Sachs, who finds interest in Walther's song, to Beckmesser's distaste and insults. Sachs accuses Beckmesser of personal jealousy, while the latter tells the cobbler to stick to his list and finish the shoes he expects for the festival. Walther tries to continue, to general objections, and when his song comes to an end, he is supported by the apprentices. He leaves, and the rest follow, leaving Sachs alone in thought, as the boys remove the benches and singer's chair.

Act II

Scene 1

[2/3] The scene is a street, with Pogner's grander house on the right, and Sachs' simpler house on the left. The apprentices are closing the window shutters as evening draws on. David recalls the apprentices' song and is greeted by Magdalena, who brings him a basket of food, which she takes back when she hears of Walther's apparent failure. The apprentices have overheard their exchange and tease David. His retaliation is prevented by the appearance of Sachs, and they go together into the house.

Scene 2

[2/4] Pogner and Eva, returning from a walk, stop before Sachs' house, as Pogner would speak with him. They sit, as Pogner thinks better of interrupting Sachs. Eva persuades him to go into his house, while Magdalena emerges, telling Eva of Walther's failure. She decides to speak to Sachs later.

Scene 3

[2/5] As Magdalena and Eva withdraw into their house, Sachs is seen in his shop, musing on the distracting scent of lilac blossom, before returning to his work. He continues to think of Walther's song, so innovative and yet familiar, like the song of birds in May, inspired by nature.

Scene 4

[2/6] Hans Sachs goes on with his work, interrupted by Eva's greeting. He tells her that she must wear her new shoes the next day as a bride, and the shoes on which he is now working are for the man who may marry her, Beckmesser. Eva suggests that Sachs, a widower, would be more acceptable to her, as he has known her since she was a child. Magdalena calls to Eva, while Sachs tells her that Walther has no hope, as one born a Master and therefore unrecognised by those who have worked hard to master the rules of their art. Magdalena urges Eva to go in, as her father is calling for her. Eva crossly reproaches Sachs, who is left to think how he may help her. Magdalena tells Eva that Beckmesser intends to serenade her with his song. Eva asks Magdalena to take her place at the window. They make to go into the house.

Scene 5

[2/7] As they leave, Walther appears in the street, seen by Eva, to her delight. He tells her of his failure and her father's pledge that she may only marry a Mastersinger. He recalls his ordeal, as he sang of love, while the Mastersingers clung to their traditional rules. He urges her to run away with him. The horn of the night-watchman is heard, and Walther lays his hand on his sword, but is calmed by Eva, who tells him to hide for the moment. Magdalena calls her into the house.

[2/8] The night-watchman passes, calling ten o'clock. Hans Sachs, meanwhile, has overheard the lovers and must prevent any elopement. Eva comes out again, dressed in Magdalena's clothes, ready to make her escape with Walther. Sachs allows a light to shine from his house onto the couple, who withdraw, but as they plan to leave, they are interrupted by the arrival of Beckmesser.

[2/9] Beckmesser is about to start his song, when Sachs allows his light to shine on the street again and starts hammering, at his work, singing his Cobbler's Song of the expulsion of Eve from Paradise. Beckmesser is angry at the interruption, while Eva and Walther wonder at the meaning and purpose of the song. Magdalena appears at the window, dressed as Eva, and Beckmesser tells Sachs not to bother any more about the shoes he is making for him, but would like advice from him on his song. Sachs reminds him of his taunts earlier in the day, and Beckmesser angrily tells him that he will never be Marker for the Mastersingers. Sachs, however, will listen, and mark any faults with the blows of his hammer.

[2/10] Beckmesser starts his inept serenade, interrupted all the time by Sachs' hammering and suggested corrections. Beckmesser angrily continues his song, and Sachs his hammering, until song and shoes are finished.

[2/11] Windows open along the street, as Beckmesser boasts of his knowledge of the rules and intention to win the contest. David sees someone serenading his beloved Magdalena and emerges with a cudgel, to deal with the offender. There is general commotion, observed secretly by Eva and Walther, as David attacks Beckmesser. The horn of the approaching night-watchman is heard, and Sachs comes out of his shop, seizing the arm of Walther, who has drawn his sword, and pushing Eva towards her father, who has come out to see what is happening. He pushes David before him and draws Walther into his house, while women pour water on the commotion below, in which others have now joined, so that all is silent again when the night-watchman appears.

Act III

[CD 3 / Track 1] The Prelude includes motifs from Sachs' chorale 'Wach'auf!' and from the Cobbler's Song.

Scene 1

[3/2] The scene is in Sachs' workshop. The cobbler sits reading. David slips in with a basket of flowers, from the bottom of which he takes a sausage and a cake. Sachs noisily turns a page of his book and David starts up, assuring his master that he has delivered Beckmesser's shoes and begs forgiveness for his behaviour of the night before, explaining the cause. Sachs asks him to sing his St John's Day chorale, which he does well enough, adding his congratulations to Sachs on the latter's name-day and urging him to defeat Beckmesser in the contest and win the hand of Eva.

[3/3] As David leaves, Sachs muses on the folly of human malice and the events of the night, and his intention to steer folly to a good end.

Scene 2

[3/4] Walther enters from the next room and tells Sachs of a dream he has had, which Sachs tells him should form the substance of his song. Songs should temper youth, spring and ardour with experience.

[3/5] As Walther sings, Sachs writes down the words of his song, which moves him greatly, while advising him of the necessary techniques. They leave to prepare for the coming contest.

Scene 3

[3/6] Beckmesser appears outside the shop, which he quickly enters, limping and suffering from the beating David had given him the night before. Uneasily he limps round the room, recalling the events of the night, and eventually sees the paper on which Sachs has written Walther's words, apparently Sachs' own contest song. Hearing Sachs approach, he puts the paper in his pocket, but then produces it as evidence of Sachs' treachery in intending to compete himself. Sachs denies the charge and tells Beckmesser he may use the poem, if he wants, assuring him that he will not reveal the true authorship. Beckmesser hurries away, prepared to learn the puzzling words of the poem and, in gratitude, promising to vote for Sachs as Marker. Sachs is quietly satisfied with the outcome, musing on the malice Beckmesser has shown and his just reward.

Scene 4

[3/7] Eva, richly dressed, enters the shop, seeking to have her new shoes adjusted. She is overwhelmed when Walther enters in his knightly costume.

[3/8] Sachs suggest that Walther sing the third verse of his trial song, while he himself works on the shoes. Eva is strongly moved, bursts into tears and sinks on Sachs' breast, while Walther seizes his hand in gratitude.

[3/9] Eva thanks Sachs for all he has done for her and Walther, and Sachs assures her he would never have wished to echo the fate of King Marke, when Tristan fell in love with Isolde, the King's betrothed. Magdalena and David enter the shop, both dressed for the festival.

[CD 4 / Track 1] Sachs calls for the baptism of the new song, promoting David from apprentice to journeyman.

[4/2] Eva prays for the song's success, joined by Walther, while Sachs muses on his own renunciation of Eva, in favour of the young lovers.

[4/3] They leave all together for the celebration.

Scene 5

[4/4] The scene is now an open meadow by a stream, with a raised platform for the Mastersingers and guests. The guildsmen enter, first the shoemakers, then the town musicians, the journeymen, tailors and bakers.

[4/5] The apprentices, with David, dance around the girls, to the sound of the town pipers. Finally the Mastersingers march in, followed by Pogner and Eva.

[4/6] The apprentices call for silence, now all have taken their places.

[4/7] Sachs steps forward and all join in singing the chorale Wach'auf!

[4/8] Sachs addresses the company, thanking them and urging the Mastersingers to bear in mind the importance of the prize offered by Pogner, the hand of his daughter. Pogner thanks him, while Beckmesser is agitated at the difficulties of the new poem and seeks Sachs' support. The oldest is to begin, and the apprentices lead Beckmesser to the mound from which he is to perform. He stumbles at first, and there are unflattering comments from the bystanders as to his eligibility as a bridegroom.

[4/9] Beckmesser embarks on his contest song, which is so clumsy as to bring only laughter from the assembly. He angrily blames Sachs, before rushing away.

[4/10] Sachs disclaims the poem and asks if anyone present can sing the song as it should be sung and win the title of Mastersinger.

[4/11] Walther steps forward and sings the prize song and is crowned with the garland by Eva, while Pogner offers him the golden chain of a Mastersinger. Walther, however, disclaims this honour, desiring happiness alone.

[4/12] Sachs wisely advises him not to spurn the art of the Mastersingers, who have preserved true German art, inherited from court traditions, and will protect it from danger.

[4/13] All join in praise of German art. Eva takes the garland from Walther and bestows it on Sachs, who in turn bestows the golden chain on Walther. All pay tribute to Hans Sachs.

Keith Anderson

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Producer's Note

The present transfer was made from the best portions of three British LP pressings. The original master tape has numerous problems. The beginnings of some notes were clipped, while at other times some bars of music were incorrectly repeated. Occasionally, a splice joined two sections recorded at slightly different pitches and volume levels. I have attempted to fix as much as I could, but the attacks of some notes remain missing. I was able to reinstate a pizzicato (CD 1, Track 9, 4:56) which was apparently cut from all editions subsequent to the earliest two-LP set of Act I.

Mark Obert-Thorn

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