Alexandra Steiner / Katrin Wundsam / Marek Janowski

Engelbert Humperdinck: Hänsel und Gretel

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AllMusic Review by

Warm, sentimental, and infectiously tuneful, Engelbert Humperdinck's Hänsel und Gretel is one of the most popular of late Romantic German operas, and it has been a perennial favorite since Richard Strauss conducted its premiere in 1893. Based on the fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm, this opera in three acts is regularly presented at Christmastime, and an excerpt from Act 2, the Evening Prayer, has become a children's classic. Marek Janowski leads the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra in this 2017 release on Pentatone, and the lively performance meets the high standards of the audiophile recording, especially in the richness and depth of the playing and the clarity of the singing. The cast is led by mezzo-soprano Katrin Wundsam as Hänsel and soprano Alexandra Steiner as Gretel, and their acting is appropriately innocent and joyful, while soprano Ricarda Merbeth as the Mother and bass-baritone Albert Dohmen as the Father convey their worries and fears of the dark woods. The plum role of the Witch is sung with gleeful menace by tenor Christian Elsner, though the part is treated with campy humor and is unlikely to frighten anyone. Pentatone's multichannel sound gives a good sense of the singers' placement and the orchestral sections, and the details of the score are clear and fully audible. Highly recommended.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
Hänsel und Gretel
1 08:11 Amazon
2 03:08 Amazon
3 01:58 Amazon
4 03:29 Amazon
5 01:38 Amazon
6 02:02 Amazon
7 02:24 Amazon
8 04:01 Amazon
9 01:38 Amazon
10 01:14 Amazon
11 02:23 Amazon
12 03:53 Amazon
13 01:38 Amazon
14 04:25 Amazon
15 03:29 Amazon
16 02:48 Amazon
17 03:05 Amazon
18 04:50 Amazon

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
Hänsel und Gretel
1 02:19 Amazon
2 01:29 Amazon
3 04:38 Amazon
4 00:35 Amazon
5 03:23 Amazon
6 03:10 Amazon
7 03:47 Amazon
8 01:17 Amazon
9 04:44 Amazon
10 01:21 Amazon
11 03:34 Amazon
12 02:29 Amazon
13 03:47 Amazon
14 02:05 Amazon
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