Martin Hoff / Weimar Staatskapelle

Humperdinck: Hänsel und Gretel

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Engelbert Humperdinck is best remembered for his fairy tale opera, Hänsel und Gretel, which has enjoyed nearly universal popularity since its premiere in 1893. This MDG recording by Martin Hoff and the Staatskapelle Weimar was recorded in 2013, and it shows how fresh and lively the score is today, thanks to the vivacious cast and the polished playing of the orchestra. Featuring Sayaka Shigeshima as Hänsel, Elisabeth Wimmer as Gretel, Uwe Schenker-Primus as Peter, Rebecca Teem as Gertrud, and Alexander Günther as the Witch, the performance holds together well because the vocals are evenly matched, while the orchestra provides strong support, with almost every part fully audible. The direct, unprocessed super audio sound for which MDG is famous creates a natural sense of the depth and breadth of the performance space, and the high quality of the recording brings out fine details with vivid clarity and presence. The single weakness of the recording is the occasionally thin bass sound, which may require some boosting to be heard adequately. Otherwise, this is a fine SACD version of a perennial classic that is quite enjoyable for its musicality and energy.

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