Malmö Opera Orchestra | Naxos
Engelbert Humperdinck won a worldwide reputation through his application of Wagnerian techniques to folk music in Hänsel und Gretel. But he wrote far more widely for the stage than is acknowledged, and this selection focuses on long overlooked works that reveal Humperdinck’s flair for romance, comedy and innovation. These include music for one of the first full-colour silent films, the spectacular Das Wunder (1912); the passionate, ethereal small cantata Die Wallfahrt nach Kevlaar; the rich antique flavour of Lysistrata; as well as his dance-saturated and serenely beautiful incidental music for Der Kaufmann von Venedig. - From naxos.com
**As featured on Radio Klassik's 'CD of the Day' - 25 November 2020**
It is remarkable how brilliantly the Malmö Opera Orchestra plays here. Dario Salvi conducts smoothly and shows a great deal of flair for Humperdinck's world of sound.
★★★★★ The beauty of the melodies is a constant, something that is not surprising in Humperdinck if you know the opera for which he is most popular ... The stable ensembles of the Malmö Opera are again perfect transmitters of these beautiful rarities.
★★★★★ Praise to the cast who bring this forgotten music to the attention endearingly. Should there be more Humperdinck on the shelf? I would say: forward Malmö, get started with the second part, and quickly, if possible.
The Malmö Opera Orchestra and Salvi respond very well to this music, bringing out Humperdinck’s characteristic warmth of writing, particularly for the lower brass and strings. The chorus sounds beautiful in their all-too-brief times to shine.
This most welcome, well-filled CD gives us a broad cross-section of [Humperdinck's] music for the stage... The performances are excellent in every respect, as we have come to expect from Malmö, and the recording is well-balanced and natural.
What all works have in common is that Humperdinck is not stingy when it comes to effort: colourful orchestras, plus solos and choir, inspire his compositional fantasy... [The CD is] more than just an extension for rarity specialists.
Though a great lover of Hansel and Gretel, I was not prepared for just how good these incidental scores really are. It shows that Humperdinck was far more than a one work wonder and is surely overlooked among the large number of turn of the century composers who were able to turn out such highly melodic scores. The one real rarity here is the suite arranged from Das Wunder – the first full-colour silent film, made in 1912. A real find.
Dr Brian Hick, Lark Reviews
The various vocal and choral contributions have all the requisite limpidity and poise, while the Malmö Opera forces acquit themselves with verve and elegance under the capable guidance of Dario Salvi – whose efforts in raising the profile of this music compels respect.
★★★★ Humperdinck not only composed operas but also drama music for Berlin - none other than master director Max Reinhardt commissioned them. The Naxos label wants to present them all in the original - and the first CD sounds promising.
The whole gives a beautiful picture of the composer's development, and at the same time shows him at his strongest, as the imaginative creator of atmospheric vignettes with a pronounced melodic charm.
Extremely persuasive, delicious, very well played.