This six-disc collection culled from EMI's vast catalog offers ample evidence to support the claim that Hans Hotter was the great German bass-baritone of the middle years of the twentieth century. All Hotter's greatest hits are here: his heroic "Herr, lehre doch mich," from Brahms' Ein deutsches Requiem; his heartbreaking "Der Leiermann," from Schubert's Winterreise; his shattering "Der Doppelgänger," from Schubert's Schwanengesang; and his ecstatic "Mondnacht," from Schumann's Liederkreis. Also included are Hotter's stoic account of Bach's Ich habe Genug, his impassioned reading of Grieg's Ich liebe dich, his intimate interpretation of Strauss' Ich trage meine Minne, and dozens of other affecting performances. Plus, there's a disc dedicated to 21 of Hotter's most insightful performances of Wolf's lieder, and a disc devoted to his best stage roles: Sachs in Die Meistersinger, Wotan in Die Walküre, and the title role in Der fliegende Holländer. On every track, the great bass-baritone is smooth, strong, expressive, intelligent, and above all, soulful. Although Hotter's technique is impeccable and his artistry unquestionable, what makes him truly great is the depth of feeling in his interpretations. If the glory of Hotter's ringing tone in "Wotan's Farewell" doesn't get you, the power of his searing emotions will.
The sound of the recordings, taped between 1947 and 1958, is technologically antique. All the recordings were excellent in their day -- rich, detailed, and vivid -- and those qualities are still apparent in these digital transfers.