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Göta Ljungberg (1893-1955)
Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901)

La Forza del Destino – Madre, pietosa Vergine *
La Forza del Destino – Pace, pace mio Dio *
Richard WAGNER (1813-1883)

Tristan und Isolde – Die Wunde? Wo? +
Tristan und Isolde – Mild und leise #
Die Walküre – Rette mich, Kühne +
With Frieda Leider (soprano) and Friedrich Schorr (bass)
Parsifal – Ich sah das Kind
Parsifal – Seit Ewigkeiten harre ich deiner +
Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949)

Salome – Ah! Du wollst mich nicht deinen Mund ^
Cavalleria rusticana – Als euer Sohn einst fortzog ^
Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924)

Tosca – Nur der Schönheit weiht ich mein Leben <
Tosca – Nur deinetwegen wollt’ ich noch micht sterben <
With Joseph Schmidt (tenor)
Tosca – Ora stammi a sentir
With Browning Mummery (tenor) //
Madame Butterfly – Eines Tages she’n wir
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750) – Charles François GOUNOD (1818-1893)

Ave Maria
Cesar FRANCK (1822-1890)

Panis Angelicus
Ralph BENATZKY (1884-1957)

Die drei Musketiere – Du schmeichelst in mein Herz dich ein >
With Herbert Janssen

Die drei Musketiere – Mütterlein, bleib immer bei mir >
Göta Ljungberg (Soprano)
With Orchestras conducted by Manlio Di Veroli * and Lawrence Collingwood #
LSO conducted by Albert Coates +
The Berlin State Opera Orchestra conducted by Leo Blech ^ and by Clemens Schmalstich <
The Orchester des Grossen Schauspielhauses, Berlin conducted by Ernst Hauke >
Orchestra conducted by Eugene Goossens //
Recorded 1924-29
PREISER 89548 [77.06]


Ljungberg was one of a number of distinguished pupils of Gillis Bratt, perhaps Sweden’s best teacher of his generation who also numbered Joseph Hislop, Ivar Andrésen and Kerstin Flagstad amongst his successes. After further training in Milan and Berlin she made her debut at twenty-three, back in Stockholm, as Gertrune. Though powerfully identified as a Wagnerian (Elisabeth, Eva, Kundry, Elsa in Lohengrin) she did sterling work throughout the repertory. She sang in the 1920 Swedish premiere of d’Albert’s Die Toten Augen and in the less than successful first performance of Eugene Goossens’ Judith (by which time Ljungberg had cemented her reputation at Covent Garden). It’s true that she came to Italian opera late but as a counterpoint to her Wagnerian roles she was also heard in the less likely musicals of Benatzky in Berlin. Her Met debut came in 1932 – she was heard in Wagner and Strauss – and she stayed long enough to sing in the premiere of Hanson’s Merry Mount two years later (other cast members included Tibbett, Swarthout and Edward Johnson with Serafin conducting). Soon afterwards though, her career went into strong decline and apart from brief reappearances she spent the rest of her life teaching. She died near Stockholm in 1955.

This selection very accurately represents her repertoire, from her early triumphs in Wagner to the later involvement with Puccini and Mascagni, whilst acknowledging (albeit briefly) Strauss and Benatzky; Franck and the invariably hyphenated Bach-Gounod broaden the repertoire to include recital standards and they give us the opportunity to assess her in the round. In her Wagner she is characterful, with voice production sure and equalized; no obtrusive breathing difficulties exist. The only concern might be a characteristically fast vibrato, which is present on all the recordings, even the 1924 Tosca with Browning Mummery, and as it was recorded only eight years after her debut, should probably be taken as an indissoluble feature of her singing. Many of these examples are judiciously cut (the Pace, pace and Salome in particular – the last named is a superb example of her art) and are often sung in German – the Puccini and Mascagni. Her intensity and expression irradiate the extracts from La Forza del Destino and this 1929 Salome is a better recording than the earlier 1924 disc with Albert Coates conducting. It’s exceptionally exciting and dramatic and gives some idea of her undoubted stage magnetism.

Some might find her Tosca a shade low in wattage and partner Joseph Schmidt not quite ideal here; but this is still a fine disc and as distinctive in its way as her Butterfly, where her clarity and charm are equally impressive. She shows her versatility - vocally and stylistically - in the Benatzky and the Turk/Ahlert. Ljungberg’s was an impressive talent that tended to be overlooked in favour of other established star international sopranos. That she was held in esteem can be seen from her partners on disc – the Wagner recordings led by Coates in which she was partnered by Britain’s greatest heldentenor Walter Widdop and similarly those discs conducted for her by Leo Blech in Berlin. Those have appeared recently; Pearl has a compilation disc, which replicates some of this material, but Preiser’s selection is sourced from good quality originals and I recommend it to those yet to be acquainted with this impressive musician.

Jonathan Woolf

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