Peter Anders (1908
– 1954) was a highly regarded tenor
in Germany during his lifetime – and
still is in some quarters. Director
Max Reinhardt found him in the chorus
of a Berlin theatre and hired him for
a production, where he at once made
his mark. This was in 1931. Within a
year he was singing minor and major
lyric parts in a variety of German opera
houses. In 1937, not yet 30, he came
to the Munich State Opera, where he
sang Cavaradossi and Lenski. He made
recordings in the 1930s for Telefunken.
Many years ago I found a 10 inch LP
with his Mozart arias and was greatly
impressed. I still keep it. After the
war he was persuaded to take on heavier
parts, some of which are represented
on this disc. During this period, the
early 1950s, his career seemed to be
heading towards international stardom:
guest appearances in Florence, Edinburgh,
Vienna, London and he was scheduled
to make his debut at the MET, when he
was killed in a car accident, only 46
present disc gives a good idea of his
capacity in some significant parts.
The Weber and Beethoven arias Electrola
recordings, the Meistersinger, Traviata
and Pagliacci are from Deutsche
Grammophon, the rest comprise radio
broadcasts from Baden-Baden. The odd
man out is the aria from The Bartered
Bride, which is also the oldest,
recorded in Berlin in 1950.
Heldentenor" is the label I would
put on him, and typical examples of
this "Fach" are the first
five arias. His is a manly, smooth and
quite beautiful voice with a timbre
not dissimilar to Wolfgang Windgassen’s.
As heard on these excerpts it is also
a bit uneven and too often pinched at
the top. The first two arias demonstrate
this, the Beethoven being rather better
with the top ringing out more freely.
The Wagner arias show him as a Lohengrin
and Walther ... but not quite there.
That pinched sound is still in evidence.
The voice is perfectly steady, though,
which is not always the case with former
lyric singers who take the step up to
the heavy-weighters. Among the competition
at the time Suthaus and Windgassen might
have been his peers, possibly Fehenberger,
but otherwise no one I can think of.
he moves over to the Italian repertoire
he actually sounds better, more at ease,
especially as Alfredo in La traviata,
which is a role he could have sung all
through his career. Here he relaxes
and the result is a more rounded tone,
almost Italianate. He nuances in an
exemplary way and his half-voice is
ravishing. It’s a thousand pities that
he sings the aria – like everything
else on this disc – in German, especially
since there also exists a version in
Italian, once coupled with "Vesti
la giubba" from I Pagliacci
on a single 45 (DG 32 025). The
three excerpts from Pagliacci
go well, heroically sung, and it’s worth
noting that at the end of "Vesti
la giubba" he avoids the heavy
sobbing that many Italian tenors have
indulged in. There is just a furtive
tear in his voice.
rest of the disc, the broadcast recordings
from Baden-Baden, has a good but not
very French sounding Flower song from
Carmen. He seems to lack the ability
to colour his voice sufficiently but
he tries to obey the dynamic markings.
The final note starts piano as
indicated, followed by a crescendo and
then a decrescendo, ending not on a
real pianissimo, but fairly close.
Unfortunately he mars the effect by
inserting a glottal stop in the middle
of the phrase. The reason is easy to
see and could easily have been avoided.
The French text says "Je t’aime"
(I love you) sung on a melisma (several
notes on the same syllable). In German
the text is "Ich liebe nur dich"
(I love only you), and this means he
has to put in extra consonants, which
disrupt the line. In the four duets
he is partnered by the lovely Sena Jurinac.
She was born in 1921, had her training
in Zagreb, where she also made her debut
as Mimi in 1932 – or so my reference
book says. Here, barely past 30, she
is in ravishing voice throughout and
more or less steals the show from her
tenor partner. He is in good voice but
not flexible enough. He is at his best
in the marvellous love duet, ending
the first act of Otello. This
part, together with Walther, was his
favourite part during his final years,
and it shows. He sings with an array
of nuances hitherto not encountered
on this disc, inspired no doubt also
by the heavenly tones from Jurinac.
as a whole this recital gives a fairly
good portrait of the singer during what
should be labelled a transitional phase
and had he lived longer he might have
become a great dramatic tenor. As it
is the disc is still worth listening
to, in spite of the shortcomings I have
mentioned. This is honest singing and
in some places something more than that.
Readers interested in singers from the
past should give it a try. And they
get a lovely bonus in the shape of Sena