Issued in 1995 in commemoration of the
fiftieth anniversary of Herrmann's death,
this disc acts as a timely reminder
of the stature of a wonderful, and occasionally
great, artist. The recording dates and
the title 'Reichsender Berlin' might
alert the reader to the wartime provenance
of some of these recordings. But we
are here to discuss the music and its
interpretation, and for those that can
bear to peek between the Dark Curtains,
there are many musical rewards.
Herrmann's major period
of activity was at Dresden from 1939
to 1945. Classified as a 'Heldenbariton',
he excelled in the Wagner-Strauss repertory
- in the latter's case, especially Jokanaan
and Barak. He even sang the title role
of Wozzeck - initially at the
Salzburg Festival in 1951.
authority is evident right from the
start of the Fidelio excerpt
(Pizarro's aria). Drama is to the fore
here – there is almost Sprechgesang
at one point! Herrmann sets out, clearly,
to portray the insane aspects of Pizarro's
self-delusion. The chorus is there (uncredited),
while the orchestra provides tons of
is noteworthy in the extended Euryanthe
excerpt, as is his variety of expression.
Elmendorff projects the orchestral fire
well - a pity the recording loses some
detail towards the end.
Herrmann's Sachs is
supremely human, his Fliedermonolog
rather interior - a superb expression
of what Spring means to the German poetic
sensibility. The Wahnmonolog contains
even deeper feelings ... and how Herrmann
floats 'Johannistag'! - the orchestra
responds wonderfully to this, too. In
contrast, 'Verachtet mir die Meister
nicht' contains massive hope although
the chorus sounds curiously unconvinced.
The humanity of Herrmann's
Sachs is present also in his Wotan.
The orchestra struggles with the trickier
moments - especially the very opening
of the excerpt - yet this is worth hearing
for the heart-breaking 'Lebwohl's and
the broad feeling that suffuses this.
One really does feel that one is there
with them at the end of a long work.
Herrmann's tuning is exemplary, and
the sheer beauty as he kisses the Godhead
from Brünnhilde is infinitely touching.
The Wolf is interesting,
and clearly attests to the acting side
of Herrmann. Almost spoken, this emerges
as a stream of consciousness. Interestingly,
it works superbly well after the Wagner.
This is a long excerpt, but Wolf is
The Strauss items show
another Herrmann speciality. He sits
in this repertoire as if born to be
there. The orchestra is simply lovely,
and Herrmann glows along with it. There
is infinite tenderness here, in direct
contrast to the more extrovert Salome
section. There is such authority to
Herrmann's opening question, 'Wo ist
er?' - Christel Goltz is an excellent
Finally, Verdi in German.
Iago's 'inverse' Credo to a cruel God
is not the best way to end a disc that
holds so much. Herrmann sounds half-hearted
some of the time. True, one can still
enjoy the refulgence of this voice,
but it is rather like stepping down
Don't let that put
you off – this is a disc to treasure.