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Richard TAUBER (tenor) 1892-1948
Great Singers Series
Tracks 1-11. Acoustic Recordings 1921-1926

Johann STRAUSS II (1825-1899)

Eine Nacht in Venedig, ‘Sei mir gegrüst, du holdes Venedig’
Eine Nacht in Venedig, ‘Treu sein, dasd liegt mir nicht’
Der Zigeunerbaron, ‘Entrerelied des Barinkey – Als flotter Geist’
Emmerich KÁLMÁN (1882-1953)

Gräfin Maritza, Mein lieber Schatz’ (with Carlotta Vanconti, sop)
Gräfin Maritza, ‘Grüss mir mein Wien’, ‘Komm, Zigany’
Franz LEHÁR (1870-1948)

Frasquita, ‘Hab’ein blaues Himmelbett’
Paganini, ‘Was ich denke, was ich fühle’ (with Carlotta Vanconti, sop)
Paganini, ‘Einmal möcht ich was Närrisches tun’ (with Carlotta Vanconti, sop)
Paganini, ‘Schönes Italien’
Paganini, ‘Gern hab’ich die Frau’n geküsst’
Paganini, ‘Niemand liebt dich so wie ich’ (with Carlotta Vanconti, sop)
Tracks 12-22 Electric Recordings 1927-1932

Franz LEHÁR (1870-1948)

Die lustige Witwe. ‘Ballsirenenwalzer-Lippen schweigen’ (with Vera Schwartz, sop)
Die lustige Witwe. ‘Vilja-Lied’
Zigeunerlieber, ‘Est liegt in blauen Fernen’
Zigeunerliebet, ‘Wer nennt nicht die Liebe sein einziges Glück’
Der Rastelbinder, ‘Wenn zwei sich lieben’
Richard HEUBERGER (1850-1914)

Der Opernball, ‘In Chambre séparée’
Rudolf FRIML ((1879-1972

Rose Marie, ‘O Rose Marie, ich liebe dich’
Rose Marie, ‘Über die Prärie’
Johann STRAUSS II (1825-1899)

Die Fledermaus, ‘Dieser Anstand so manierlich’(with Vera Schwartz, sop)
Die Fledermaus, ‘Herr Chevalier’. ‘Genug damit, genug’. (with Lotte Lehmann, sop, Karin Branzell, mezzo, Waldemer Stägemann, bass,)
All arias given with orchestral accompaniment. Various Orchestras and conductors including Erich Korngold, Anton Paulik, Hermann Weigert, Ernst Hauke and Frieder Weissmann
Recorded 1921-1932. No recording venues given
NAXOS HISTORICAL 8.110779 [79.21]

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Richard Denemy Tauber was the illegitimate son of theatrical parents. Born in 1891 his first talents as a musician were towards the piano and conducting which was his burning ambition. His obvious vocal aptitude lead to a period of study and the offer of a contract at Wiesbaden Theatre where his father was director. Tauber rejected this offer in favour of further study and made an auspicious debut as Tamino in Mozart’s Magic Flute in March 1913. Max in Der Freischütz followed and his success brought a five-year contract at the prestigious Dresden Royal Opera. As his reputation grew, Tauber sang both opera and operetta at the Vienna State Opera. He was viewed as being unequalled as a Mozart tenor between the World Wars as well as being an admired Rodolpho, Don Jose and Germany’s first Calaf. I stress the issue of Tauber’s operatic credentials because far too many British based listeners think of him solely in terms of popular 78s of operetta and light music, making the assumption that he was an upstart tenorino cum crooner. A double disc collection from Preiser features him in arias and duets in works by Auber, Smetana, Flotow, Verdi and Tchaikovsky accompanied by the likes of Rethburg and Lehmann and which would quickly disabuse of that idea. So too would a companion Naxos disc titled ‘Operatic Arias’ and recorded between 1919 and 1926 (8.110729). The Naxos issue under review here is devoted wholly to operetta. It is split into Acoustic Recordings and Electric Recordings. As far as recording quality is concerned the massive advantages of the electrical process are self evident as one goes from tracks 7 to 11 of arias and duets from Lehár’s Paganini, recorded in October 1925, to the following extracts from the composer’s Merry Widow recorded in 1932 (trs. 12-13). In the acoustic recordings Tauber’s voice comes over as somewhat recessed. There is much greater clarity of both voice and orchestral accompaniment in the electrical recordings that follow.

During the first half of the 20th century, at least in the German speaking countries, operetta ranked on a par with opera. Tauber’s career evolved to include both genres. His links with the Hungarian composer Franz Lehár, at that time the undisputed doyen of Viennese light opera, came about when the singer rescued a failing Paganini. Tauber went on to create a number of roles in Lehár’s subsequent works. During this 1920s period Tauber’s appearances in London and on screen in a number of operetta style works won English hearts. As a consequence even what might be termed non-classical households had a clutch of his 78s. Those of a more classical bent were happy to consider Tauber as equal to Gigli, Schipa and McCormack. This Naxos CD, more than many other LP and 78s transcriptions I have heard, indicates why. Restoration engineer Ward Marston’s efforts enable the listener, particularly in the extracts derived from the electrical recording process, to hear Tauber’s sweetness of timbre and evenness of vocal production. These qualities are allied to good diction and exemplary musicianship. Only in respect of the transposed Vilja-Lied (tr. 13) do I find any lapse in judgement and where Tauber’s natural movement into the head voice is strained. Others may find the German translation of the songs from Friml’s Rose Marie (trs. 18-19) take something away from the natural flow of the music. Whatever these limitations they are more than compensated for by the sheer brio of the Act 2 extracts from Die Fledermaus (trs. 21-22) featuring the formidable talents of Lotte Lehmann and Karin Branzell, amongst others, all of whom perfectly complement Tauber’s artistry.

Minor reservations apart, this CD is a very fine representation of the operetta repertoire of a singer who entered the hearts and households of many Britons in the 1930s and the dark days that followed. I have no hesitation in recommending it.

Robert J Farr

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