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Penguin Guide, January 2010

The Naxos set of Karajan’s classic 1951 recording of Meistersinger provides a useful super-bargain alternative to EMI’s own issue. Mark Obert-Thorn has opted to transfer this live recording, made over five performances and a rehearsal, at a higher level than the EMI engineers, and this has tended to bring out the inevitable inconsistencies and flaws, with voices not always well-focused, particularly in the big ensembles. Yet the electric atmosphere of a historic occasion is thrillingly caught. Where EMI provides a complete libretto in German but no translation, Naxos relies on detailed synopsis with references to the numbered tracks.

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