MOZART: Die Zauberfloete — highlights – Hilde Gueden, soprano/Wilma Lipp, soprano/Leopold Simoneau, tenor/Walter Berry, baritone/Kurt Boehme, bass/Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra/Vienna State Opera Chorus/Karl Bohm
HDTT HDCD194. 42:40 [avail. in diff. formats from www.highdeftapetransfers.com/] ****:
Transferred from a London/Decca 4-track tape, this disc gives us excerpts from Karl Bohm’s first recording of The Magic Flute–he would mount another recorded production ten years later for DGG–made at the Redoutensaal, Vienna, 23-28 May 1955. Collectors will well argue that Bohm has here his first of two great Taminos, Leopold Simoneau (his next was to be Fritz Wunderlich). Wilma Lipp, too, shines as Queen of the Night, and Walter Berry brings the first of many great Papageno characterizations he would provide over the years, especially in 1955, when his voice enjoyed the bloom and strength of youth. Typical of the Bohm persona is the transparency of Mozart’s texture, immediately illuminating the balanced phrases of Pagageno’s “Der Vogelfaenger bin ich ja,” his proud assertion of his chosen profession as bird catcher. The key of B-flat announces the Queen of the Night’s first aria, “O Zittre nicht, men leiber Sohn,” in which Wilma Lipp’s high tessitura and lyrical flexibility merge in her G Minor narration of Pamina’s abduction by Sarastro. The last section, Allegro moderato, returns Lipp to B-flat but now in stratospheric, swooping terms as she anticipates her daughter’s return. Next, Papageno and Pamina sing of their mutual loves in “Bei Maennern, welche Liebe fuehlen,” ardent and delicate at once. The suave Leopold Simoneau intones “Wie stark ist nicht dein Zauberton,” the extended scene in which each of the romantic characters attests to the magic power of love, especially embodied in the flute and bells. The concluding chorus looks to Beethoven for its cumulative vehemence, followed by the Masonic character of the opera, bursting forth in measured stateliness in the March of the Priests.
Wilma Lipp demonstrates her exalted F in “Der Hoelle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen,” insisting that Pamina drive a dagger into Sarastro‘s heart. Sarastro himself appears in “In diesen heilgen Hallen,” announcing the hallowed halls of Masonic trial and revealed brotherhood, here comforting Pamina. Sarastro’s own low F proves rather tentative from Kurt Boehme, who may be the only weak link in this otherwise solid ensemble. The scene moves to the Temple of Ordeal, where Pamina becomes convinced that Tamino no longer loves her, and so sadly sings “Ach, ich fuehls, es ist verschwunden.” Hilde Gueden projects her sensitivity and vulnerability in this affecting 6/8 adagio scena. Comic relief comes in the form of Papageno’s “Ein Maedchen oder Weibchen,” rife with magic and transformation. The plastic melody became a natural inspiration for Beethoven. With “Tamino mein! O Welch ein Gluck!” Mozart paints the raptures of love and reconciliation, Gueden and Simoneau in perfect harmony. The string and woodwind work–especially in the bassoon–prove as elegant as the human voices above. The worldly singspiel concludes with Pagageno’s having found his own true love in Papagena (Emmy Loose), the patter of discovery moving like sweet bullets, as the promise of healthy progeny dances across the Mozart’s fertile musical imagination.