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Peter Anders: Arias and Duets
Carl Maria von WEBER (1786 – 1826): Der Freischütz: Nein, länger trag ich nicht die Qualen; Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770 – 1827): Fidelio: Gott! Welch Dunkel hier; Richard WAGNER (1813 – 1883): Lohengrin: In fernem Land; Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg: Am stillen Herd; Morgenlich leuchtend Giuseppe VERDI (1813 – 1901): La traviata: De’ miei bollente; Ruggiero LEONCAVALLO (1858 – 1919): I Pagliacci: un tal gioco; Recitar … Vesti la giubba; No, Pagliaccio non son; Georges BIZET (1838 – 1875): Carmen: La fleur que tu m’avais jetée; Giuseppe VERDI: Otello: Già nella notte densa (w Sena Jurinac); Giacomo PUCCINI (1858 – 1924): La Bohème: Sono andati? (w Sena Jurinac); Madama Butterfly: Bimba, dagli occhi w Sena Jurinac); Bedrich SMETANA (1824 – 1884): The Bartered Bride: Armer Narr … Es muss gelingen; So find ich dich, Feinsliebchen hier (w Sena Jurinac)
Peter Anders (tenor), Sena Jurinac (soprano), Orchester der Städtischen Oper Berlin/Arthur Rother; Südwestfunk-Orchester, Baden-Baden/Otto Ackermann; Württembergisches Staatsorchester, Stuttgart/Ferdinand Leitner; Münchener Philharmoniker/Leopold Ludwig & heinrich Hollreiser; RIAS-Unterhaltungsorchester, Berlin/Kurt Gaebel
Recorded 1950–1953
PREISER RECORDS 93436 [78:36]

 

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 years old.

The 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.

"Jugendlich 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.

When 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.

The 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.

Taken 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 Jurinac.

Göran Forsling



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