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Elisabeth Schwarzkopf – Arias, Duets, Lieder

Elisabeth Schwarzkopf
Philharmonia Orchestra/Otto Ackerman, recorded 1953
REGIS RRC1167 [78.25]

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)

Cantata No.208 Hunt - Schafe können sicher weiden
With Niedermayer and Reznicek (flutes) Maurer (cello) and Ahlgrim (harpsichord) Recorded 1946
Georg Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759)

L’Allegro, Il Penseroso ed Il Moderato – First and Chief…Sweet Bird
With Niedermayer (flute)/Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra/Josef Krips, recorded 1946
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)

Le Nozze di Figaro – Porgi amor and Dove sono
With Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra/Herbert von Karajan, recorded 1950
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)

Fidelio – Ach wär’ ich schon
With Philharmonia Orchestra/Alceo Galliera , recorded 1950
Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924)

Gianni Schicchi – O mio babbino caro
With Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra/Herbert von Karajan, recorded 1948
Madama Butterfly – Un bel di vedremo
Engelbert HUMPERDINCK (1854-1921)

Hänsel und Gretel – Dance Duet; Brüderchen, komm tanz
With Irmgard Seefried (soprano)/ Philharmonia Orchestra/Josef Krips, recorded 1947
Evening Prayer; Der kleine Sandmann bin ich…Abends, will ich schlafen gehn
Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949)

Der Rosenkavalier- Presentation of the Rose Herrgott in Himmel…Mir ist die Ehre wiederfahren
With Irmgard Seefried (soprano)/ Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra/Herbert von Karajan, recorded 1947
Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)

An die Musik
Die Junge Nonne
Der Musensohn
With Edwin Fischer (piano), recorded 1952

‘S Schätzli
With Gerald Moore (piano), recorded 1951
Franz LEHÁR (1870-1948)

Die Lustige Witwe – Viljalied

The words of a character in a terrible British film of the 1930s came back to haunt me as I listened to this disc – "By Jove this is a rum affair and no mistake." There is minimal track-listing and no information about source material. All however derive from either 78 or early LP recordings and presumably the 1953 cut-off date is related to copyright issues. It’s in effect an old-fashioned ‘Best Of’, or perhaps ‘Some Of the Best Of’, with a leavening of popular songs to balance the Mozart, Puccini and Strauss.

Of course it’s only enlightening to meet some of Schwarzkopf’s less well-known recordings - her fluent and eventful Handel, her charm in ‘S Schätzli and her grave and powerful Die Junge Nonne with Edwin Fischer’s memorably adamantine support. Then there is her Figaro, with Karajan in Vienna in 1950 – and no room for her fellow artists Kunz and Jurinac. Of the two arias in the compilation Dove sono is relatively brisk and marginally the less successful. Her Puccini is elegant, eloquent and controlled and very beautiful even if Un bel di sounds rather over-precise. The extract from Rosenkavalier comes from three 78s (LX 1225-7) with her colleague, the adorable Irmgard Seefried, and recorded once again in Vienna. The Humperdinck with Krips is full of brio and charm but An die Musik is full of ticks and pops. Which brings us to the transfers. They can’t, I’m afraid, be recommended. Compressed and airless they seem to be taken from LP copies and suffer the problems of inherent damage (as with An die Musik, pops and ticks) and a subterranean acoustic. This is really more of a souvenir than a genuine proposition.

Jonathan Woolf

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