Golden Operetta of Vienna = Sel. by Gedda, Bjoerling, Wunderlich, Tauber, Schock, Schwarzkopf, Gueden, Streich & others – Alto

by | Aug 14, 2009 | Classical Reissue Reviews | 0 comments

Golden Operetta of Vienna = LEHAR: Arias from Das Land des Laechelns, Die Lustige Witwe, Giuditta, Der Zarewitsch; KALMAN: Graefin Maritza, Komm Tzigany; J. STRAUSS, JR.: Die Fledermau, MILLOCKER: Der Bettelstudent, Die Dubarry; ZELLER: Der Vogelhaendler; Der Obersteiger; TAUBER: Old Chelsea – Nicolai Gedda, tenor/Jussi Bjoerling, tenor/Fritz Wunderlich, tenor/Richard Tauber, tenor/Rudolf Schock tenor/Erich Kunz, baritone/Julius Patzak, tenor/Rupert Glawitsch, tenor/Elizabeth Schwarzkopf, soprano/Emmy Loose, soprano/Anneliese Rothenberger, soprano/Wilma Lipp, soprano/Hilde Gueden, soprano/Rita Streich, soprano/Sena Jurinac, soprano/Freiderike Sailer, soprano/Sari Barabas, soprano

Alto 1049, 67:50 [Distr. by Koch] *****:

This disc includes documentation of Viennese light power arias 1937-1957, as performed by major stars from the Vienna Opera as well as internationally renowned vocalists whose talents lent themselves to lyric and song. To an extent this disc complements the 2003 Naxos Historical release Viennese Operetta Gems (8.110292), which extends the roster of brilliant voices to include Charles Kullmann, Elisabeth Schumann, Marcel Wittrisch, Jarmila Novotna, Ernst Groh, and Franz Volker.

Given the brevity of his illustrious career, it seemed appropriate to enjoy immediately the soaring talent of Fritz Wunderlich (1930-1966) in duet with Friederike Sailer from Der Zarewitsch (1957), just to hear who could warble of love higher, the vocalists or the accompanying flutes. Sheer aerial bliss, wherever your ear goes. Wunderlich returns to Stuttgart to sing “Sei nicht boes” from Der Obersteiger (1957), a lovely waltz that flows into the upper range of Wunderlich’s mellifluous voice like a crystal stream. Once more, he and Sailer combine for the love-duet, “Nur das eine bitt’ich” from Millocker’s Der Bettelstudent.  The forever under-rated Rudolf Schock (1915-1986) intones from Volgalied (1957), “Allein! Wieder allein!” with Wilhelm Schuechter’s able conducting the lonely, balalaika-sounding yearning for one’s fatherland. For a more earthy vision of Schock’s versatility, try “Komm Tzigany” from Grafin Maritza (1954), complete with gypsy cimbalom and yearning strings. Wilma Lipp (b. 1925) lends her easy coloratura to “Ich bin die Christel von der Post,” which sways gingerly between waltz and polka, her vocal gestures appropriately exaggerated with excellent support from conductor Rudolf Moralt. Lotte Lehman once called Anneliese Rothenberger “the best Sophie in the world,” and Rothenberger’s 1957 “Ich schenk mein herr” from Die Dubarry gives us the ample luxury of her high register. Jussi Bjoerling (1911-1960) lends his silver voice to the virtues of student penury in “Ich hab kein geld” from Der Bettelstudent, recorded 1937. From that same operetta recording under Wilhelm Schuechter, Rupert Glawitsch and Sari Barabas engage us (1954) in the mock-martial “Kommt mir nach Varasdin,” rife with erotic promises for later in the evening.

The disc opens with the perennial Lehar favorite, “Dein ist mein ganzes herz” from The Land of Smiles, this time (1953) with the durable Nicolai Gedda (b. 1925)–conducted by Otto Ackermann for EMI–who strains somewhat at the tessitura that Tauber and Wunderlich had long made their own. More idiomatic proves the eternal Elizabeth Schwarzkopf (1915-2006), the most esteemed opera singer of her generation. She sails through the legend-song, “Vilja” from The Merry Widow (1953) under Ackermann, a performance more piquantly diaphanous than the later version EMI produced with Matacic. Schwarzkopf teams with the great character-baritone Erich Kunz (1909-1995) in that same recording with Ackermann, here singing the parodic Hungarian battle-song, “Hela, Maedel aufgeschaut.” The ultimate soubrette Emmy Loose (1914-1987) joins Nicolai Gedda in “Wie eine Rosenknospe” for some amorous flirtation, lit by wonderful string, woodwind, and horn work from the Philharmonia Orchestra. I recently celebrated Hilde Gueden (1917-1988) on her artistry, courtesy of Nimbus Records. From 1958, she and conductor Robert Stolz enchant us with an aria from Lehar’s Giuditta, “Meine Lippen, sie kuessen so heiss,” a gypsy song close in spirit to Rita Hayworth’s Gilda.

Possessing less “pure” vocal power was Julius Patzak (1898-1974), but the intelligence of his voice and its innate Austrian charm sold whatever he sang, from Mozart to Mahler. He warbles (1957) the Nightingale Song from Der Vogelhaendler to airs drawn directly from The Blue Danube or Austrian Village Swallows but now covered with rich whipped cream. The amazing master of breath-control Rita Streich (1920-1987) shows off her fluent, versatile coloratura in “Spiel’ich die Unschuld” from Der Fledermaus (1955) in the venerated recording under Karajan. Follows the rousing Czardas under the luminary of the Vienna State Opera, Sena Jurinac (b. 1921) with Wilhelm Schechter (1950). Real Hungarian paprika spices her erotic virtuoso longing for her homeland.  Last–the best of course–the inimitable Richard Tauber (1891-1948) himself, singing in his own production of Old Chelsea (1943) in English, “My Heart and I.” What does he suggest, that “maybe love is blind when passion rules.” If so, all music lovers will consistently grope to their audio equipment to savor the inexhaustible joys of this collection.

–Gary Lemco

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