Wolfgang Sawallisch, who was for many years the general music director of the Bavarian State Opera chose these two works in their original form to play in a concert of Wagner’s music which could not have taken place in more beautiful surroundings. In the Singer's Hall of Neuschwanstein Castle - that half finished fairy-tale castle in the "Königswinkel" (royal corner) of upper Bavaria, built by Ludwig II as a homage to the creations of his friend and idol Richard Wagner, the Wesendonck Lieder and the Siegfried Idyll were performed by Marjana Lipovsek and members of the Bavarian State Orchestra. All of the musicians from that evening play in friendliest cooperation with one another as well as having a deeply felt relationship with the music. This comes through in the recording which through fortunate circumstances was made that evening.
Sawallisch leads his musicians in a quasi affectionate-yet-reserved manner. These were the Slovenian mezzo-soprano Marjana Lipovsek who under his direction started her career in numerous big roles at the Bavarian State Opera, not least those of Wagner, and also the musicians of "his" State Orchestra which Sawallisch, who was born in Munich, had since his debut in 1954 conducted in innumerable opera performances and symphony concerts by the "Musikalische Akademie" (the concert formation of the Bavarian State Orchestra). From 1971 Sawallisch was their general music director for a period of twenty-two years.
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"Wolfgang Sawallisch, 83, is one of the last conductors of the old school. He appears here as piano accompanist to the alto Marjana Lipovsek, and seldom has the "Siegfried Idyll" sounded more homogenous. A most venerable recording which could well come to be regarded as a perfect model." KulturSpiegel, Johannes Saltzwedel, June 2007
"… As Mathilde-Isolde, Marjana Lipovsek is consistently convincing. Her full alto voice sounds wonderfully sonorous in the lower register […] Dramatic passages are always formed with a controlled measure of ardour, so that both the voice and the harmonic boldness of the composition become equally balanced vehicles of expression. Marjana Lipovsek successfully carries off a highly expressive and moving recitative in the Lied 'Stehe still'.
Among Lied accompanists Wolfgang Sawallisch belongs to the tradition of Furtwängler, who was just as capable of directing singers from the conductor’s rostrum as from the piano. He accompanies with the precision and the creative overview of an orchestral conductor, seeminig almost to presage Felix Mottl’s later orchestration, and manages exquisitely to bring across his qualities as a conductor through the keyboard. In the hands of Wolfgang Sawallisch, Wagner’s piano part, although no masterpiece of the genre, takes on astounding contours and a floating, and ever transparent forcefulness […]". www.klassik.com, Wendelin Bitzan, May 31, 2007
(available only in German)
"… Die […] CD […] legt Zeugnis ab für die hochgeschätzte Intensität und das Uneitle in der Art der Interpretation, die man von Sawallisch kennt. Vieles wird dezent angedeutet, zurückhaltend geboten, aber in hoher Konzentration und aus der 'Sache heraus' entworfen;[…]" Freiburger Universitätsblätter, Günter Schnitzler, Juni 07