By Joel Kasow

Humperdinck: Köngiskinder
Ofelia Sala (Goose Girl); Nora Gubisch (Witch); Jonas Kaufmann (Prince); Detlef Roth (Fiddler); Fabrizio Mantegna (Broom-maker); Jaco Huijpen (Woodcutter); Henk Neven (Innkeeper)
Orchestre National de Montpellier
Latvian Radio Chorus
Armin Jordan, conductor
Accord 476 9151 (3 CDs; notes and translations in English, French and German)
A new recording of Humperdinck’s rarely heard Königskinder allows us to say farewell to Armin Jordan, the Swiss conductor who recently died. I was present at the concert in July 2005 of which this is the aural souvenir, and it is as magical just listening at home as it was in the concert hall. It is difficult to imagine the work on stage, particularly the first act in which the geese participate, but there is too much wonderful music to let this opera just fade away. Ofelia Sala’s Goose Girl and Jonas Kaufmann’s Prince are touching lovers, singing in honeyed tones, the microphones allowing us to hear some extra vibrato on her high notes that was not noticeable in the hall, while he is clearly on his way towards the lighter Wagnerian heroes. Detlef Roth may not possess the magnetism of Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau on an earlier recording, but he comes close; unfortunately, both on the recording and in the hall one wished the voice was one size larger. Nora Gubisch makes a blowsy-sounding Witch, but she is not heard after the first act. Armin Jordan’s love for the score comes across constantly, and he elicits playing from the Montpellier Orchestra far above their usual standard.

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