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Maria von Ilosvay (1913-1987)
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)

Che scompiglio (La finta semplice) [3:03]
Del pari infeconda (La Betulia liberata) [8:33]
Parto, inerme (La Betulia liberata) [7:07]
Ombra felice - Io ti lascio e questo addio [9:02]
Deh, per questo istante (La clemenza di Tito) [6:20]
Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901)

Stride la vampa (Il trovatore) [2:32]
O don fatale (Don Carlo) [4:20]
Ambroise THOMAS (1811-1896)

Connais-tu le pays? (Mignon) [4:38]
Georges BIZET (1838-1875)

En vain pour éviter (Carmen) [2:38]
Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921)

Amour, Viens aider ma faiblesse (Samson et Dalila) [4:04]
Mon coeur s´ouvre à ta voix (Samson et Dalila) [4:54]
Richard WAGNER (1813-1883)

Weiche, Wotan, weiche (Das Rheingold) with Hans Hotter [4:26]
Stark ruft das Lied (Siegfried) with Hans Hotter [10:29]
Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901)

Liber scriptus (Messa da Requiem) [5:14]
Maria von Ilosvay (contralto)
Vienna Symphony Orchestra/Bernhard Paumgartner (Mozart)
Vienna Symphony Orchestra/Wilhelm Loibner (Verdi except the Requiem, Thomas, Bizet, Saint-Saens)
Bayreuth Festival Orchestra/Clemens Krauss (Wagner)
Chorus and Orchestra of the Accademia di Santa Cecilia, Rome/Paul van Kempen (Verdi Requiem)
rec. 1952-55
PREISER 89670 [77:27]

Budapest born in 1913 Maria von Ilosvay had an important international career that’s well reflected in this Preiser salute, itself made up of the contents of two Philips ten inch LPs. Ilosvay studied first in Budapest and then in Vienna where she won a prestigious singing competition in 1937. She began as a Mozart specialist though she also sang in Krenek’s version of L’incoronazione di Poppea, and in contemporary works by Milhaud (Le Pauvre Matelot) and Ibert’s Angelique. She toured America in 1937 and 1938 but was signed to the Hamburg company in 1940 and remained there for the rest of her professional career. With Hamburg as her permanent base she sang in Vienna, at La Scala and Covent Garden, as well as more local houses in Stuttgart and Munich. From 1953-58 Bayreuth claimed her. Perhaps her greatest discographic fame rests with the 1953 Ring under Clemens Krauss, though she sang Mother in the Karajan 'Hänsel und Gretel', amongst other things.

So this makes the reappearance of these 1952-55 recordings all the more valuable in expanding our perception and appreciation of her singing. For the Mozart arias she’s accompanied by the Vienna Symphony under Bernhard Paumgartner. There sounds to have been quite a lot of reverberation in these sides - Che scompiglio especially. It’s noticeable and slightly annoying though it doesn’t sabotage the performances generally as it tends to come and go. There are a few LP clicks that could have been eradicated. Nevertheless this is fine Mozart singing, excellent in the divisions in Del pari infeconda. Maybe in the companion piece from La Betulia liberta, Parto, inerme, she’s a little over-emphatic in the middle section – but she makes up for it through well judged vocal weight elsewhere. The sole example from La clemenza di Tito is again afflicted by heavy reverberation but here her finely focused tone emerges relatively unscathed.

Of her Verdi I think it’s fair to say that her Trovatore is rather polite whilst her Don Carlo tends to lack clout. It’s finely etched and coloured but lacks theatrical projection at the end – and once again one needs to draw attention to the cavernous boomy acoustic. There’s pre-echo on the Mignon and the sound rather breaks up, which is a pity, because her French comprehensively out trumps her Italian singing if these examples are representative, and there’s no real reason to doubt they are. Her tone is full and there’s real charm here.

There are two examples at the Bayreuth Festival in 1953 with Hotter – firstly Das Rheingold (Weiche, Wotan, weiche) and then Siegfried (Stark ruft das Lied) – the Krauss performances in other words; but they’re only adequately restored at best. The final track is given over to an example of her Verdi Requiem – she recorded the whole work with van Kempen, of which this is an extract, and it is impressively done, making amends for her earlier operatic diffidence in the Italian repertoire.

A most worthwhile and valuable slant on Ilosvay then but in all honesty some of the transfers could have been a notch or two better.

Jonathan Woolf


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