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Eric Kunz (1909-1995)
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)

Le Nozze di Figaro: Cinque, dieci, venti with Irmgard Seefried
Le Nozze di Figaro: Se vuo ballare, signor contino
Le Nozze di Figaro: Non piu andrai
Le Nozze di Figaro: Tutto e disposto
Le Nozze di Figaro: Questa piccola offerta with Blanche Thebom
Don Giovanni: Madamina! Il catalogo e questo
Die Zauberflöte: Der Vogelfänger bin ich
Die Zauberflöte: Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen
Die Zauberflöte: Papagena! Papagena! with Elisabeth Rutgers
Richard WAGNER (1813-1883)

Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg: Ein Werbelied! with Paul Schöffler

Der lustige Krieg: Nur für Natur
Eine Nacht in Venedig: Treu sein, das liegt mir nicht
Eine Nacht in Venedig: Komm in die Gondel
Eine Nacht in Venedig: Ach, wie so herrlich zu schaun
Der Zigeunerbaron: Ja, das Schreiben und das Lesen

Der Vogelhändler: Wie mein Ahnl zwanzig Jahr

Die Schützenliesl: Mutter, lieb s Mutter!


Du guater Himmelvater

Eric Kunz (baritone)
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra/Herbert von Karajan, Otto Ackermann, Karl Böhm and Rudolf Moralt
Glyndebourne Festival Orchestra/Fritz Busch
Vienna Volksoper Orchestra/Anton Paulik and Faltl-Kemmeter-Schrammeln
Recorded 1944-51
PREISER 90550 [79.30]

These are old friends and so is Eric Kunz. The mellifluous and personable baritone graced many an operatic set in the immediate post War years and was as feted in Vienna as he was admired at Glyndebourne, to name just two. A look at the headnote and associated conductors will tell you that these Columbias are often extracted from the sets made at the time. The Busch led Così – a highlights set in effect – is represented, as is the Karajan Marriage of Figaro. The Magic Flute extract here shouldn’t be confused with the slightly later complete recording with Karajan – instead these are 1947 extracts on 78s led by Rudolf Moralt. Likewise the Johann Strauss – this isn’t the 1953 LP recording of Der Zigeunerbaron conducted by Otto Ackermann – it’s a 78 led by Anton Paulik, an idiomatic conductor of the Wiener Volksoper.

So that’s what this disc is, or isn’t. It’s essentially a selection of Kunz over a four-year period with the added bonus of two wartime broadcast examples of his Mozart and Wagner preserved in superb sound. All this in well documented form with issue and matrix details intact (Biddulph, please note). The aptly chosen discs show Kunz’s greatest strengths in their still youthful glory. His was a voice of the most persuasive elegance. He and the equally delightful Irmgard Seefried show such character and style in their Mozart whilst the baritone’s masculine nobility, always held within proper stylistic and vocal bounds, is warmth personified in Tutto è disposto. His Catalogue Aria is not too insinuating and sneering; the approach is superior and elevated and those wartime tapes, where he’s joined by Rutgers in Mozart and by Schöffler in Mastersingers, are in spectacularly forward, if not always ideally warm sound.

Character, charm and that beautifully equalized and warm baritone were all Kunz’s. That he was a character-actor of distinction on stage made him even more valuable. As one hears in the Wagner – though he did once or twice sing at Bayreuth – his was not an especially powerful voice but given his roles and musical instincts it didn’t need to be. He essayed some of the Italian repertoire but his forte was Mozart and the Strauss and lighter Viennese music contained in the second half of this Preiser disc. The full range and weight of that mellifluous charm is brought to bear on Nur für Natur and his sotto voce Komm in die Gondel is equally gripping. If you want to hear a piece of characterful singing – big elongated vowels and nasal wit - try Ja, das Schreiben und das Lesen – and his Krakauer is simply irresistible.

The originals are not hard to find but the transfers have done justice to them nevertheless. This is in the main a Mozart and Johann Strauss disc but there is such variety of timbre, shading, expression and nuance in Kunz’s singing that it could have lasted all evening and I would still have wanted more.

Jonathan Woolf

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