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Richard Tauber: Opera Arias, Volume 2
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)

Die Entführung aus dem Serail (1781/2) – Konstanze, Konstanze … O wie angstlich [4’17"]
Die Zauberflöte (1791) - Dies Bildnis ist bezaubernd schön (rec.1938) [3’51"]; (rec.1946) [3’53"]
Don Giovanni (1787) – Dalla sua pace (a) [4’10"]; Il mio tesoro (a) [4’14"]
Carl Maria von WEBER (1786-1826)

Der Freischütz (1821) – Nein, langer trag’ ich nicht … Durch die Walder [6’21"]
MÉHUL

Joseph – Vaterland ich musst’ dich fruh lassen [4’39"]
Friedrich von FLOTOW (1812-1883)

Martha (1847) – Ach so fromm [2’49"]
GODARD

Jocelyn – Berceuse [3’10"]
Jacques OFFENBACH (1819-1880)

Les contes d’Hoffmann (1880) – Il était une fois a la cour d’Eisenach [4’13"]; Ha, wie in meiner Seele [2’44"]
Georges BIZET (1838-1875)

Carmen (1845) – La fleur que tu m’avais jetée [3’33"]
Nikolai RIMSKY-KORSAKOV (1844-1908)
Sadko (1896) – Hindulied [3’12"]
Richard WAGNER (1813-1883)
Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg (1867) – Am stillen Herd [3’39"]; Morgenlich leuchtend [3’33"]
NESSLER

Trompeter von Sakkingen – Behut dich Gott [3’40"]
Wilhelm KIENZL (1857-1941)

Der Evangelimann (1894) – Selig sind die Verfolgung leiden [2’49"]
Eugen D’ALBERT (1864-1932)

Tiefland (1902/5) – Wie ich nun gestern Abend [3’51"]; Mein Leben wagt’ ich drum [3’21"]
Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924)
Turandot (1924) – O weine nicht, Liu [2’47"]; Keiner schlafe [3’01"]
All tracks sung in German, except (a) sung in Italian; (b) sung in French
(c) with Dajos Bela, violin and Mischa Spoliansky, piano
Recorded 1926-1946, British Parlophone, French Odeon and German Odeon. ADD.
NAXOS HISTORICAL GREAT SINGERS 8.111001 [77’48"]

 

This issue follows what has become the standard format for Naxos Historical releases: great musicians of the past presented in extracts from their core repertoire in well restored recordings, but supported with minimal documentation. However, this disc would merit some departures from this approach, and in so doing I suspect increase the appeal to wider public.

Tauber was, and for many still remains, one of the supreme stylists of the tenor voice. Often in listening to these recordings one is struck by the tonal quality, breath control, not to mention that Tauber specialism – the floated head voice, so essential in any tenor embarking upon the Viennese repertoire. Young singers of today should listen and learn from a master when it comes to that.

There are reminders of many Tauber stage assumptions, and Mozart held a special place in his repertoire. The items from Die Zauberflöte and particularly Don Giovanni display a fine sense of line and proportion. The opportunity to compare two recordings of ‘Die Bildnis ist bezaubernd schön’ reveals how consistent the tone was over an interval of eight years. True, the later version is slightly leaner and slower, but no less beautiful for that. The words are handled just as tellingly. Listening to Tauber in comparison to Helge Roswaenge, for example, in Flotow and Wagner shows Tauber’s ability to scale down the voice as opposed to Roswaenge’s occasional forcing of the tone – though this too is thrilling.

Aside from the voice, the chief interest is the repertoire presented. The lack of documentation about operas or extracts should present few problems in relation to the standard repertoire. However, there are at least seven tracks (Méhul, Flotow, Godard, Rimsky-Korsakov, Nessler, Kienzl, and D’Albert) that are likely to send you scurrying to the reference books for information, but even these will be little help when it comes to following the specifics of particular arias. Peter Dempsey’s otherwise informative sleeve note outline of Tauber’s career could have been usefully extended in this respect, beyond cursory mentions of ‘Opera X was first presented in year Y’, that adds little to the understanding of most listeners. The recordings themselves offer insights to repertoire that has been victim to changes in taste, but surely does not fully deserve the oblivion it finds itself languishing in today.

Personally I am not worried by the fact that some tracks are sung in German translations. Tauber is a strong enough advocate to make you willingly ignore the fact; anyhow it follows the practice of the day when many ‘foreign’ works were presented in translation.

By and large Ward Marston’s audio restorations are clearly preferable to other re-issues of this material. The voice is forward, and the unnamed studio orchestras sound good for their age.

Highly recommended then, aside from some deficiency in documentation, with readers urged strongly also to consider the preceding volume and that of operetta recordings. Hopefully Naxos will follow this up by reissuing Tauber’s 1926 recording of Das Deutsche Volkslied, and so offer a fully rounded portrait of his art.

Evan Dickerson

see review of Volume 1

see review of Popular songs



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