Surely it is rare to see such a roundly satisfying performance of Meistersinger - with no significant drawbacks in any aspect of singing, acting or production.
Contrary to "A Viewer from USA", Karita Mattila is not magnificent on this DVD. She isn't in it at all. They may be thinking of the soon-to-be-released MET DVD on DG.
But Brendel's Sachs is wonderful - ruminative, wise, handsome in a hard-working middle-aged way, thoroughly convincing. He certainly is not meant to be a 'craggy old man' - how then could we make sense of Eva's Act 3 outburst that if she had the choice she would marry him? No, Brendel gets it right, his voice full and firm to the end, and he galvanises an impressive cast.
Winbergh's lyrical and expressive Walther could be put in the shade by odious comparisons to the role's greatest exponents on disc - Konya & Heppner (the latter is on the forthcoming MET DVD) - but he is certainly thoroughly enjoyable, even if he lets emotion override singing the notes towards the end of the prize song.
The Quintet eventually takes flight though Eva Johannson doesn't launch it with much inspiration. Her outburst at "O Sachs, Mein Freund", though, is spine-tingling, and she looks the part, attractive if not quite as beautiful as Ute Walther, her Magdalena. David & Beckmesser are both well-routined, thoroughly sung and wonderfully acted.
Gotz Friedrich's direction is pure gold. The orchestra is on terrific form. This is first-class singing, acting and music making all round. No regrets here.