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Edith Oldrup – lyrical soprano of the Danish Royal Opera: 1934-1949
Christoph WEYSE (1774-1842)

Hyrden græsser sine Faar
Dybt Skoven bruser
Der er en Ø I Livet
De klare Bølger rulled
En Elskoverklæring
Eduard DU PUY (1770-1822)

Jeg er endnu I Livets Vaar
Peter HEISE (1830-1879)

Det var sig Humleranken
Jeg kinder af Navn kun Guldet
Igennem Bøgeskoven
Sol deroppe
Carl NIELSEN (1865-1931)

Sænk kun dit Hoved
Æblesblomsten
Askel AGERBY (1889-1942)

Havren
Edvard GRIEG (1843-1907)

Jeg elsker dig
Solveig’s Song
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)

La ci darem la mano (Don Giovanni)
Susanna’s Aria (Marriage of Figaro)
Duet – Susanna and the Count (Marriage of Figaro)
Georges BIZET (1836-1895)

Michaëla’s prayer (Carmen)
Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924)

Si, mi chiamano Mimi (La Bohème)
Un bel dì vedremo (Madama Butterfly)
Johann Peter Emilius HARTMANN (1805-1900)

Game of Tavlebord - Duet from Little Kirsten
Hans Christian LUMBYE (1810-1874)

Britta Polka from The Champagne Gallop
Edith Oldrup (soprano) with
Askel Schiøtz and Marius Jacobsen (tenors), Einar Nørby and Poul Wiedemann (baritones), Elof Nielsen, Folmer Jensen and Richard Østerfelt (pianos)
Royal Danish Orchestra, Tivoli Symphony Orchestra conducted by Egisto Tango, Johan Hye-Knudsen and Svend Christian Felumb
From Danish HMV and Tono recordings made between 1937 and 1953
DANACORD 504 [73.52]




Born in 1912 Edith Oldrup was a leading soprano at the Danish Royal Opera for a period of fifteen years from 1934 to 1949. She had studied with the venerable tenor Vilhelm Herold, making her stage debut as Michaëla in Carmen (an extract from the Prayer is included here, recorded just under a decade later). She sang in most of the familiar roles and some less familiar native ones, as well as making some films and teaming up with Askel Schiøtz for some notable recitals, not least during the wartime occupation (a delightful souvenir of their work together is the duet from Hartmann’s Little Kirsten, a Danish HMV of 1939). Made a Royal Court singer in 1946 she was fated not to remain long in her newly elevated role because in 1949 she married baritone Sigurd Björling and promptly resigned her position in Oslo and followed her Swedish husband to Stockholm. Her concert and operatic career slowly trailed off though she did continue to make occasional appearances back in her native country but more and more teaching occupied her time. She made about sixty recordings on 78 and this selection ranges from 1937 – just a few years after her debut in Carmen – to 1953, by which time she had moved to Sweden.

Oldrup had a very light, well-deployed soprano, somewhat coltish. It is pretty well supported and on those occasions when she makes upward extensions she does so with clarity and no sense of strain. It’s true that her range was somewhat limited, at least on the evidence of these recordings, and she’s not tested by any overtly technical demands (though in the acid test of the Mozart arias she acquits herself with no little distinction). She has great clarity of diction and sings with frequently delightful simplicity – in fact sometimes with a potentially soubrettish quality which I find very appealing – and is capable of vesting expressive potential with the minimum of vocal ostentation; a subtle gift and one I suspect she absorbed from Herold, a notably intelligent artist.

In the Weyse songs her runs are bright, her felicitous affection obvious. She brings out the Schubertian grace of Der er en Ø I Livet with cherishable simplicity but in De klare Bølger rulled whilst nicely arched and swelling with lyrical generosity there’s also a slight lack of colour and expression. She is charm itself, all soubrette flightiness, in Heise’s Det var sig Humleranken (it’s a shame that there are no texts, in any language, in Danacord’s booklet) but in the earliest recording here, the same composer’s Igennem Bøgeskoven she wanders fractionally off the note. Her Nielsen songs are easeful, accompanied by the ever-excellent Folmer Jensen, and as she shows in Solveig’s Song (there’s an interesting anecdote in the booklet concerning Herold’s visit to Grieg and this song in particular) she is quite capable of extension at the top when required. Susanna’s aria from The Marriage of Figaro is accompanied by the Italian stalwart in Denmark, Egisto Tango. The recording itself is rather recessed but we can still admire Oldrup’s freedom and naturalness. Her duet with Nørby is good if not outstanding but her Michaëla full of breathless charm and floated tenderness. Her Mimi is certainly chaste, excellent technically and rather attractive.

The booklet notes are, with the exception of lack of texts, informative and the transfers by Claus Byrith have been carried out with skill and fidelity. This is a fine and timely salute to a notable adornment of Danish musical life.

Jonathan Woolf


 
 

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