Artist of the Week: Johannes Martin Kränzle’s Essential Recordings

By David Salazar

Johannes Martin Kränzle may not have the world-renown name of many major singers, but he certainly has the experience and recordings to illustrate his strength as an artist.

The baritone has a varied selection from which listeners can choose from, ranging from high profile video recordings to more intimate listening experiences. Here are some of his vital albums.

1. Alberich in La Scala’s “Ring Cycle”

Kränzle is quite famous for his work in Wagnerian repertoire and among his most famous roles is that of the villainous Alberich. La Scala released its recent cycle on which Kränzle appears in three of the four operas. He showcases his brilliance as the villain quite prominently in “Das Rheingold,” but he is quite the horrific presence in the “Siegfried” and “Gotterdammerung.” Throughout the three his Alberich is quite the snake, he savors the character’s horrifying nature quite potently.

2. ‘Die Meistersinger Von Nurnberg’ from Glyndebourne 

Another of the singer’s signature role is of the, you guessed it, villainous Sixtus Beckmesser in Wagner’s lone “comedy.” His vocal flexibility comes through in great combination with his strong acting skills. We usually forget Beckmesser’s when we watch Meistersinger, so strong is the impression left by the Walter and Han Sachs in a good production, but Kränzle is not to be ignored in this one.

3. Schumann & Schubert: Grenzen der Menschheit

The German singer showcases a more introspective side taking on the lieder of the two great German composers. This album showcases Kränzle’s voice in a very different light. One with more varied colors and far more delicate. There are some pieces where one would wonder how such a gentle sound could possibly suit Wagner’s sturdier demands.

4. ‘Der Tapfere Soldat’

Audiences wondering what to expect from Kränzle’s interpretation of Eisenstein in “Die Fledermaus” need only look to his famed recording of Oscar Straus’ “Der Tapfere Soldat.” In this recording, you can get a sense of the baritone’s comic timing and lighter vocal touches.

5. Handel’s ‘Theodora’

Kränzle’s art shifts back in time with a recording of Handel’s “Theodora,” portraying the singer at his purest and most restrained in repertoire that he is not usually heard in.



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