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Paul Schöffler (1897-1977)
Richard WAGNER (1813-1883)

Die Walküre: Leb´ wohl, du kühnes, herrliches Kind
Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg: Gut´n Abend, Meister with Maria Reining+
Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg: Wahn, Wahn, überall Wahn
Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg: Was duftet doch der Flieder+
Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)

Lieder op. 43: Nr. 2 Die Mainacht*
Lieder op. 32: Nr. 9 Wie bist du, meine Königin*
Lieder op. 86: Nr. 2 Feldeinsamkeit*
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)

Die Zauberflöte: O Isis und Osiris
Die Zauberflöte: In diesen heil´gen Hallen
Le nozze di Figaro: Se vuol ballare#
Don Giovanni: Deh vieni alla finestra#
Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)

Liederkreis op. 39: Nr. 5 Mondnacht*
Guiseppe VERDI (1813-1901)

Othello (Otello): Credo in un Dio crudele
Othello (Otello): Era la notte
Paul Schöffler (bass baritone) with
The National Symphony Orchestra/Clemens Krauss #; Karl Rankl
LSO, LPO/Karl Rankl
Tonhalle-Orchester Zurich/Hans Knappertsbusch+
Ernest Lush (piano) *
Recorded 1946-49
PREISER 89590 [74.23]


Dresden-born Schöffler was taught by Mario Sammarco in Italy, a fact sometimes forgotten when considering his long career. Yet it was back in Dresden that he learned his trade, spending thirteen years with the State Opera after having being spotted by Fritz Busch in 1925. His most internationally renowned years were after the War when he visited Bayreuth, the Met and Covent Garden and made a long series of distinguished recordings. Preiser has now collated some discs made principally in a six-month period between June 1946 and January 1947. The exception is the 1949 Mastersinger extract with Maria Reining.

His wasn’t the most glamorous or burnished of voices – as the very first extract, from The Marriage of Figaro (one of his best assumptions) clearly shows. But it was versatile, idiomatic, intensely musical and was finely controlled at the top. His legato is fine in Don Giovanni – Busch had clearly left a real Mozartian impression – and though his O Isis und Osiris isn’t the blackest of bass-baritones it’s extremely well modulated. His Wagner shows the ease of production of which Schöffler was capable and it’s Was duftet doch der Flieder in particular, recorded with Knappertsbusch, that sits so beautifully for his voice. He left behind a complete set with the conductor in Vienna but this extract comes from a Zurich recording session for Decca, for whom he recorded extensively. He plays off Reining very convincingly two years later (listen out for the Ach, ya, so richly characterful) and is in fine form for the underappreciated Karl Rankl in their joint sessions. His Walküre extract – he recorded it three times in total, twice for Decca and once for Amadeo, is splendid. His Otello is on perhaps a somewhat lower level of engagement, though his experience in Italian opera was extensive. Then there are four souvenirs of Schöffler the lieder singer, three of them by Brahms, one by Schumann, all accompanied by Ernest Lush. Here his attention to specifics of enunciation is laudable and the voice is intrinsically splendid – it’s just that I find the singing rather inert.

The copies are good ones; Preiser’s latest batch has proved commendably uniform in sourcing good quality originals, and there’s a brief biographical note. Matrix and release details are here as well, something that can’t always be taken for granted these days.

Jonathan Woolf


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