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Rudolf Laubenthal
Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924)
Tosca: Wie sich die Bilder gleichen [03:05]
Carl Maria von WEBER (1786-1826)
Der Freischütz: Nein, länger trag ich nicht die Qualen [06:29]
Richard WAGNER (1813-1883)
Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg: Grüss Gott, mein Junker [08:24] Abendlich glühend [04:13]
Siegfried: Nothung! Neidliches Schwert [02:56] Dass der mien Vater nicht ist [04:33] Heiss ward mir von der harten Last [03:31]
Götterdämmerung: Mime, hiess ein mürrischer Zwerg [11:52]
Giacomo MEYERBEER (1791-1864)
Die Hugenotten: Ihr Wangenpaar  [04:06]
Die Afrikanerin: Land so wunderbar [03:21]
Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901)  
Il Trovatore: Dass nur für mich dein Herz erbebt [03:50] Lodern zum Himmel seh' ich die Flammen [01:31]
Bedrich SMETANA (1824-1884)
The Bartered Bride: Es muss gelingen [03:24]
Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)
Eugen Onegin: Wohin seid ihr entschwunden [06:51]
Ruggiero LEONCAVALLO (1858-1919)
Bajazzo: Jetzt spielen... Hüll dich in Tand nur [03:18]
Rudolf Laubenthal (tenor)
London Symphony Orchestra/Albert Coates
Berlin State Opera Orchestra/Leo Blech
Opera of the German Opera/Eduard Möricke
Ignatz Waghalter (piano)
Recorded 1919-1930
PREISER 89606 [71.33]



Many of Laubenthal’s discs have made it to compilations, where he joins such as Leider and Schorr. His Wagnerian discs have also seen some prominence not least in Pearl’s restoration of the London and Berlin 1927-32 Ring cycle in which Laubenthal played so important a role. But this is the only currently available single disc selection devoted to him that I know and it happily restores the 1919 Parlophones and the 1923 Homochords as well as giving us the more widely available Wagnerian extracts.

As a Heldentenor Laubenthal (1886-1971) was special. Less feted than his better-known tenorial colleagues, such as Melchior, his was nevertheless a remarkable story. He had a successful if circumscribed career at the Met but did perform in the first American performance of Jenufa in 1924, whilst he was lauded at Covent Garden especially for his Siegfried and his Tristan. His public career was actually very short and it was pretty much over by 1934 when he was still only in his late forties.

We actually begin with his 1930 Weber – dramatically incisive with conductor Albert Coates driving his forces hard, as he so often did; here the fiddles of the LSO take on a truly Wagnerian sheen and heft. The Wagner extracts are well known but imperishable examples of his art. Schorr joins him in Die Meistersinger, no small bonus, and we can hear the tenor’s characteristically bright, forward sound. His diction is excellent. With Blech leading the Berlin orchestra, not as pressing as Coates, we find that Laubenthal’s voice is not caught quite as immediately as it is in the London HMV sessions but it doesn’t hinder appreciation of his strong, animated and very lyrical line nor his innately tasteful vocal production. The voice itself is not intrinsically a beautiful instrument; it doesn’t have caressing Italianate warmth; it’s a different animal altogether – cutting, bright and tremendously incisive.

And yet it’s a voice capable of considerable sensitivity – listen to the mezza voce in Siegfried or the tonal depth in the lower part of the voice in the Götterdämmerung extract. And listen to the equally acute playing of the Berlin winds behind him; the principal clarinettist in particular is a real artist. The earlier recordings, dating from just after the First War, show him in his most youthful voice, in his mid-thirties. In the Meyerbeer we hear the kind of plangency one doesn’t often associate with him whilst in the Verdi one can hear the youthfulness of that somewhat metallic ring. Numerous German tenors showed affinities with Smetana and Laubenthal is no exception – lyric but certainly not honeyed, more resinous in his approach. His Eugen Onegin is a touch lugubrious and his Tosca a bit flaccid; and in fact his Pagliacci rather misses the histrionic point, so not everything is excellent. But no tenor is a master of the entire repertoire and at his best Laubenthal was a figure of real importance.

The transfers are without problem, a touch noisy in the earlier sides but then some of the Homochords are difficult to deal with – and the voice itself remains at all times firmly in the centre. Concise notes complete a very recommendable disc.

Jonathan Woolf



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