Jurinac and Ludwig = STRAUSS: Vier letzte Lieder; 3 Lieder; MAHLER: Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen; BRAHMS: 2 Lieder — Sena Jurinac, soprano/ Christa Ludwig, mezzo-soprano — BBC Legends

by | Sep 1, 2005 | Classical Reissue Reviews | 0 comments

Jurinac and Ludwig = STRAUSS: Vier letzte Lieder; 3 Lieder;
MAHLER: Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen; BRAHMS: 2 Lieder — Sena
Jurinac, soprano/ Christa Ludwig, mezzo-soprano/ BBC Symphony
Orchestra/Sir Malcolm Sargent (Strauss)/ Philharmonia Orchestra/Andre
Cluytens (Mahler)/ Geoffrey Parsons, piano/

BBC Legends 4107-2  66:47 (Distrib. Koch) ****:

Two stars of the postwar Vienna Opera grace this fine disc from the BBC
archives, concerts inscribed 1957 (Mahler) to 1978 (lieder recital) in
good to excellent sound. Christa Ludwig benefited from close
association with conductors Karajan and Bernstein in the music of
Mahler. The Mahler songs under the rare direction of Andre Cluytens
(substituting for an indisposed Otto Klemperer) have a ravishing color
and incisiveness of approach, with Ludwig’s highly dramatic
characterization in Mahler’s songs (2 December 1957) of romantic
rejection in the face of Nature’s indifference. Cluytens, a Frenchman
who always had a strong sense of the German tradition, elicits glorious
colors from the Philharmonia strings, winds and brass. The section
where the narrator suffers emotional pangs, a burning knife in her
breast, highlights both Mahler’s and Cluytens’ more operatic gestures.

Jurinac, who rose from the Zagreb Opera to become a darling in the
music of Strauss, Mozart, and Beethoven, offers a direct,
unaffected  delivery in the Strauss valedictions (11 September
1961) for a life in retrospect; the orchestral parts being taken in a
totally literalist manner by Malcolm Sargent, who thoroughly eschews
the romantic manner of performance a la Celibidache. Geoffrey Parsons
proves an able accompanist of dynamic sensitivity and deft coloration
as well, able to subdue his keyboard for the intimacies in the Strauss
Ruhe, meine Seele, or approximate the autumnal orchestral timbre for
Mahler’s heart-rending Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen, whose
audience silence at its conclusion speaks volumes. Recorded 15 July
1978, the Ludwig song recital proffers a mature artist, whose voice no
longer has the luster of youth but the mellow security of the seasoned
veteran. Her Brahms Wiegenlied, the epitome of the familiar in sung
music, has an innocent joy of palpable intensity, and the Wigmore Hall
audience responds with immediate appreciation. At present, the
distribution of BBC Legends seems in a state of suspension, so I advise
serious collectors to grab up treasures like this one before they
disappear.

–Gary Lemco

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