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Golden Age singers

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Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett


 

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Erna BERGER (soprano) (1900-1990)
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)

Die Entfuhrung aus dem Serail ‘Martern alter Arten’
Idomeneo ‘Solitudini amiche... Zeffiretti lusinghieri’
Die Zauberflöte ‘O zittre nicht’.’ ‘Der Hoille Rache’
Carl Maria von WEBER (1786-1826) Ines de CastroNon paventar mia vita’.
Daniel AUBER (1782-1871) Fra Diavolo ‘Quel bonheur’.
Friedrich von FLOTOW (1812-1883) Martha ‘Letzte Rose’.
Gaetano DONIZETTI (1797-1848) La fille du regiment ‘Tyrolienne’ (Act II Entr'acte arranged for soprano).
Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901)

Rigoletto ‘Caro nome’.
La traviata ‘É strano! É strano! Ah fors' é lui… Follie! Follie! Sempre libera’.
Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924)

La bohème ‘Mi chiamano Mimi’.
Madama Butterfly ‘Un bel di vedremo’.
Georges BIZET (1838-1875) Les pecheurs de perles ‘Comme autrefois dans la nuit sombre’.
Johann STRAUSS Jnr (1825-1899) Die Fledermaus ‘Mein Herr Marquis’ (Laughing Song). ‘Spiel’ch die Unschuld vom Lande’. ‘Frühlingsstimmen’
Various orchestras and conductors. Recorded 1934 to 1949
All sung in German
Bargain price
Naxos Historical. ‘Great Singers Series’.
NAXOS Historical. 8.110733 [74.04min]


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Erna Berger made her professional debut in 1925, later singing at Bayreuth, Salzburg, Covent Garden, and in 1925, at the New York ‘Met’. However, most of her singing was at the Berlin City Opera, her promising and evolving international career being cut short by the outbreak of the Second World War.

I reviewed Berger’s contribution to Decca’s ‘The Singers’ series for this site in the autumn of 2001 and several items are common. The Decca series was ‘multi-media’, being enhanced, for those with CDROM facility, to include a photo-gallery and texts. This issue doesn’t have those benefits but is less than half the price! What is more, Ward Marston’s remastering, equalization of levels and noise reduction here, I find preferable; far less surface noise with no noticeable loss of vocal timbre. I must also repeat the caveat that I made in that review, all the excerpts are sung in German despite listings on the disc, and which I repeat above, giving the original composition titles.

Of the selection here, I found Berger over-stretched in ‘Marten aler Arten’ (tr 1), and the Queen of the Night’s ‘O zitte nicht’ (tr 3) but was impressed by her other Mozart contributions. From the Italian repertoire Berger makes an appealing Gilda in ‘Caro nome’ (tr 8) but is not particularly suited to Violetta, her coloratura sounding thin (trs 10 and 11). Her Puccini Mimi (tr 12) and Butterfly (tr 13) have elegant phrasing and good legato, whilst her trill is secure in ‘Comme autrefois’ from Bizet’s ‘Les pecheurs des perles’ (tr 14). I also liked the lightness of tone and characterization in her ‘laughing song’ (tr 15) from Die Fledermaus, and this time round was slightly better disposed to her rendering of Adele’s ‘Spiel’ich’ (tr 16) from the same recording session in 1934. Her rendering of ‘Frühlingsstimmen’ (tr 17) is a delight and illustrates to perfection her strengths.

Whilst the Decca issue features other renowned German singers of the period (Schlusnus and Ursuleac) in duet with Berger, this issue features her solo. Given that situation, and despite the duplications, this is a disc that should interest enthusiasts of good singing, even if they have already purchased the earlier Decca issue.

Robert J Farr



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