Humperdinck Hansel and Gretel on CD

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Humperdinck Hansel and Gretel on CD

Can anyone recommend the best CD Recording of Hansel and Gretel. The more I look the more I get confused as to which version to buy. Some say Runnicles is the best. Jury is still out. 

Hansel and Gretel.

There is not such a thing like "the best" in well and in various forms recorded works of Classical Music. Hansel und Gretel might not be one of the most recorded works, but it had enjoyed about a dozen of recordings, most of them wortwhile for different reasons and from a different perspective.

Vocally, I believe there are three great recordings to choose:

a) Solti with a great VPO and in very good sound, on Decca. He has a magnificent Fassbaender as a very idiomatic Hansel, a sweet, beautiful and emotional Lucia Popp as a very convincing Gretel plus the likes of Berry, Hamari etc.

b) Davis with a superb Staatskapelle Dresden, on a good sound by Decca. The all cast set includes Ann Murray as a quite good Gretel, Edita Gruberova as a superb Gretel plus Christa Ludwig as a more than one can wish for Witch, Gwyneth Jones likewise as Gertrud and in the minor roles Barbara Bonney and Christiane Oelze!

c) The old recording of EMI, in the glorious Philharmonia days under Karajan and a remarkable cast with Grummer and Schwarzkopf as the ideal siblings.

Then there are quite a few fine recordings, among them the one with Runnicles. He has also an impressive cast in Larmore as a solid but not necessarily superb Hansel, Ruth Ziesak as a better Gretel, Bernd Weikl as a convincing Father, Behrens as a very fine vocally Mother and Hanna Schwarz as a rather menacing Witch.

There is also a very bright recent recording from a live performance from Glyndebourne under its new Artistic Director, the talented Robin Ticciati. The cast is fine and competitive, even if the names are new(er) with the exception of the quite experienced as Hansel Alice Coote.

Finally, there is an excellent recording, in English, with Mackerras and a very good cast (Larmore, Evans, Plowright Montague, etc.), on Chandos.

So, depending on what you are really looking for, there is plenty to choose. Bear in mind: one recording is not enough as good as it can possibly be.

Parla

Hansel und Gretel

Thank you Parla for your very comprehensive reply. A great help. Much to go on there. Plenty of listening to do.

Just to get you a bit more

Just to get you a bit more confused: the (only) one I have and perhaps worth considering is from Jeffrey Tate conducting Bavarian Radio SO ( w/ Otter & Bonner.....) on EMI.

More Hansel and Gretel.

You are right, 78RPM. I also got this one, but I did not mention it, since it has been deleted from the catalogue of the already defunct EMI. Hopefully, Warner may reissue it. It is another quite competitive recording, not that much from the conductor's contribution, but vocally a young Von Otter is a very captivating and thrilling Hansel. Barbara Bonney is also a very beautiful vocally Gretel. Hanna Schwarz is here the Mother, while in some minor roles there are some fine voices too.

And to make things more...complete, MDG has just released another recording of this charming Opera, where the selling point is its format: impressive SACD!

So, more to explore and...choose.

Parla

 

There are also recordings by

There are also recordings by Maazel, Sinopoli and Tennstedt to consider. I don't know if they are still available or even if they were ever released on CD. I've never heard any of them myself but somebody might have.

Do not forget the Pritchard

Do not forget the Pritchard on Sony.

With Cotrubas and von Stade and a very luxurious te Kanawa as sandman.

You can find it at eBay or waith . Its for re release this autum

Hansel und Gretel

Thanks to all. For starters I have found a used CD of the Tate on Amazon. Hope it plays ok. And I have also ordered the Davis on Decca. 

Hansel und Gretel.

Princea, if and when this set of Pritchard is reissued, you may give it a shot. It has an all star cast as well. Maybe, von Stade is not as a mature singer as Fassbaender, but Cotrubas was always a very good emotional singer and, apart from the "luxury" of having a very young Te Kanawa in a minor role, there are Sodestrom, Nimsgern, Ludwig and Welting in the other roles. Prithcard and the Koln Orchestra are not in the same league of VPO with Solti or Philharmonia with Karajan. I also have my doubts about the sound of a reissue by BMG.

Anyway, it is a good contender.

Guillaume, I do not recall, on CD, (commercial) recordings of this work with Maazel, Sinopoli or Tennstedt. Perhaps, there might be from live performances on minor labels.

Parla

Hansel and Gretel

Both sets arrived on Friday morning. Not had a chance to listen yet. Might fire up the old Mission speakers later and have a wallow! Many thanks to you all.

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