52,943 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

  Founder: Len Mullenger             Editor in Chief: John Quinn               Contact Seen and Heard here  


Crotchet   AmazonUK   AmazonUS

Herbert Alsen (bass)(1906-1978)
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)

Die Entführung aus dem Serail: Wer ein Liebchen hat gefunden (with Anton Dermota)
Die Entführung aus dem Serail: Solche hergelauf´ne Laffen (with Peter Klein)
Die Entführung aus dem Serail; O! Wie will ich triumphieren
Die Zauberflöte: Ín diesen heil´gen Hallen
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)

Fidelio: Hat man nicht auch Gold beineben
Fidelio: Nur hurtig fort, nur frisch gegraben! (with Hilde Konetzni)
Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901)

Macbeth: Nie war ein Tag so stürmisch with (Mathieu Ahlersmeyer)
Macbeth:Rascher, rascher, mein Junge
Richard WAGNER (1813-1883)

Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg: Seid meiner Treue wohl versehen (with Erich Kunz (Beckmesser) August Seider (Stolzing) Paul Schoffler (Sachs) Anton Dermota (Vogelgesang) Viktor Madin (Nachtigall) Fritz Krenn (Kothner) Georg Maikl (Zorn) William Werigk (Moser) Alfred Muzzarelli (Ortel) Josef Witt (Eisslinger) Alfred Jerger (Schwarz) Marjan Rus (Foltz) Peter Klein (David))
Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg:Lass seh´n, ob Meister Sachs zu Haus
Siegfried:Ha ha! Da hätte mein Lied mir ´was Liebes erblasen!
Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949)

Daphne:Seid ihr um mich, ihr Hirten alle?
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra/Rudolf Moralt (Mozart) (Strauss)
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra/Karl Böhm (Fidelio, Macbeth, Wagner)
Vienna Symphony Orchestra/ Rudolf Moralt (Strauss)
Herbert Alsen (bass)
Radio broadcasts recorded 1943-49
PREISER 90579 [74.13]



Herbert Alsen, who studied in Berlin, originally intended to be a violinist. It became increasingly clear though that not only was his voice an intrinsically fine one but it was also one potentially capable of considerable stature. So he retrained as a singer and joined a succession of fine, if provincial, opera houses to learn his trade and the repertoire. It was on the strength of his Gurnemanz that he was taken on by the Vienna State Opera in 1936, the same year in which he sang for Toscanini at Salzburg. After which of course there was no going back. Despite his many successes at the Met, Covent Garden, Glyndebourne, Rome and in Vienna, where he remained for over twenty years, it was above all his Sarastro that impinged itself on the musical consciousness though he was an equally fine Osmin. And he certainly did move outwards into other areas of repertoire – Schmidt’s Notre Dame and plenty of Russian roles for which his rich and resonant bass was clearly well suited and for which he equally clearly had affinities.

On this disc from Preiser we have a series of radio broadcasts spanning the years 1943-49 though in fact only the Siegfried comes from 1949; everything else derives from the one year period toward the end of the War when the accomplishment of radio broadcast fidelity had reached a particularly high level – especially in Germany and Austria. This is certainly true in the case of Die Entführung, which has been issued before in poor sound on a Melodram LP back in the early 1980s. This is from a complete broadcast with Schwarzkopf as Konstanze but we only hear an excerpt with Anton Dermota who is in impressive form. The sound here is unrecognisable from that LP manifestation and is thoroughly enjoyable. It’s difficult to get a complete picture of Alsen from these extracts but we do hear his strong but not buffo Osmin and in O! Wie will ich triumphieren the sheer warmth of his voice, albeit one susceptible to a little spread. The Fidelio is in rather splintery sound but it’s not too problematic and Konetzni is, if anything, even finer than Alsen here. In default of his Russian repertoire we have his Italian; his Verdi is sonorous if not quite in the finest ranks of German basses who espoused this repertoire (and sung in German of course as was the custom). The long extract from Mastersinger gives us a slew of his eminent colleagues whilst the Siegfried is a vivid example of his histrionic powers. Perhaps the highlight however – for me at least - is Daphne. It’s not simply that this is a ravishing piece of music, though it is, but that Alsen sings it with such simplicity and directness. It also reminds us that he was notable Kammersänger in Intermezzo. It’s a notable way to end a refreshing disc.

Jonathan Woolf


Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage

Musicweb sells the following labels

Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

Return to Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.