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Richard WAGNER (1813-1883)
So viel der helden
- Wagnerian tenors in the era of Kaiser Wilhelm II (1871-1918)

Otto Briesemeister:
Siegfried: Nothung!, Nothung!, Neidliches Schwert! (1908) [2:47]
Oskar Bolz:
Lohengrin: Mein lieber Schwan (1908) [3:58]
Alfred Goltz:
Die fliegende Holländer: Mit Gewitter und Sturm (1907) [2:25]
Heinrich Knote:
Lohengrin: In fernen Land, unnahbar euren Schritten (1908) [4:02]
Fritz Trostorff:
Tannhäusser: Inbrunst in Herzen (1908) [3:45]
Otto Lähnemann:
Lohengrin: Atmest du nicht mit mir die süssen Düfte (1908) [2:55]
Franz Xaver Battisti:
Der fliegende Holländer: Auf hohem Felsen lag ich träumend [with Marga Burchardt] (1909) [2:32]
Adolf Gröbke:
Götterdämmerung: Brünnhilde! Heilige Braut! (1909) [3:48]
Hans Tänzler:
Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg: Fange an! (1909) [2:52]
Carl Baum:
Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg: Morgenlich leuchtend (1909) [2:58]
Benno Haberl:
Lohengrin: Wenn ich im Kampfe für dich siege
[with Gertrud Runge] (1910) [3:12]
Jacques Decker:
Die Walküre: Aus dem Wald trieb es mich fort
[with Erna Denera, Gustaw Schwegler] (1913) [4:15]
Peter Unkel:
Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg: Am stillen Herd (1913) [2:46]
Karl Jörn:
Parsifal: Anfortas! Die Wunde! (1913) [4:29]
Hermann Jadlowker:
Parsifal: Nur eine Waffe taugt (1914) [4:01]
Johannes Sembach:
Die Walküre: Winterstürme wichen dem Wonnemond (1917) [3:14]
Karl Erb:
Die fliegende Holländer: Willst jenes Tag's.. (1917) [2:54]
Adolf Lussmann:
Tristan und Isolde: Wohim nun Tristan scheidet (1921) [3:41]
Josef Mann:
Tristan und Isolde: Das Schiff? Siehst du's noch nicht? (1919) [4:08]
Petur Jonsson:
Tannhäusser: Stets soll nur dir mein Lied ertönen (1922) [4:08]
Otto Wolf
Tristan und Isolde: Muss ich dich so versteh'n (1925) [2:10]
Adolf Löltgen:
Die Walküre: Siegmund heiss' ich (1932) [4:17]
Tenors as noted above with recording dates; no accompaniment information provided
PREISER 89940 [75:49]
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This is a handsome collection of Wagnerian tenors recorded between 1907 and 1932. Although the quarter century of German singers produces accustomed gems the bulk were recorded in the earlier part of that period, in roughly the decade between 1907 and 1917. I’m not sure if Otto Wolf’s 1925 Grammophon is a late acoustic or early electric but apart from him the only definitely electric recording is a private one made in 1932 by Adolf Löltgen which sounds either to have been badly warped or off-centre. Restoration has done well for the voice but little appears to have been possible for the piano, which is a jangling simulacrum of a keyboard.
This disc is in effect a “disc of the book.” Compiler Einhard Luther has written three volumes so far in the Biographie eines Stimmfaches series. His third is devoted to singers in Germany during the Imperial date of the title of the disc, 1871-1918. This disc is therefore a document of some of the many singers of that period singing in Germany. And this being the case there are no Austrian singers or indeed American, English, Slavic, French or Italian. Other discs will reflect singers from other countries, as will other documentary books by Luther.
One of the enjoyable features of this slice of (essentially) acoustic Wagneriana is the variety of the singers. Some are well known - Briesemeister, Erb, Jadlowker – whilst others much less so; Fritz Trostorff, Franz Xaver Battisti and Benno Haberl for example. I found Briesemeister, commanding if rather bleaty in his extract from Siegfried in 1908. Knote, less well known, proves impressive in In fernen Land though if anything his much later electrics, made when he was about sixty, are even more impressive.
Trostorff proves an inconsistent artist if this extract can be evaluated objectively whilst Hans Tänzler certainly sounds older than thirty – and he struggles technically at times albeit his enunciation, as with so many here, is superb. I prefer Karl Jörn to Jadlowker in Parsifal – the former gives the latter a lesson in expression - and whilst I enjoyed Sembach he too, like Briesemeister, has an audible flutter.  Erb is light but fluid – his best days were yet to come – and Josef Mann is steady; he died on stage in 1921.
The transfers have a real immediacy; surface noise is unavoidable but it’s not at all damaging to one’s listening pleasure. Nor has unhelpful equalisation robbed the grooves of detail and upper partials. There are no biographical notes on the singers, simply an explanation of the concept behind the disc. Luther’s book will be an important reference and this disc reflects some of the lasting pleasures that his work has clarified.
Jonathan Woolf



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