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Richard Tauber: Opera Arias, Vol. 2
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756 – 1791) Die Entführung aus dem Serail: Konstanze, Konstanze ... O wie ängstlich; Die Zauberflöte: Dies Bildnis ist bezaubernd schön (rec. 1938); Dies Bildnis ist bezaubernd schön (rec. 1946); Don Giovanni Dalla sua pace; Il mio tesoro;
Carl Maria von WEBER (1786 – 1826) Der Freischütz Nein, länger trag’ ich nicht … Durch die Wälder;
Etienne-Nicolas MÉHUL (1763 – 1817) Joseph Vaterland, ich musst’ dich früh lassen (Champs paternels);
Friedrich von FLOTOW (1812 – 1883) Martha Ach so fromm;
Louis Paul GODARD (1849 – 1895) Jocelyn Berceuse;
Jacques OFFENBACH (1819 – 1880) Les contes d’Hoffmann Es war einmal am Hofe (Il était une fois à la cour d’Eisenach);
Ha, wie in meiner Seele (O Dieu, de quelle ivresse)
Georges BIZET (1838 – 1875) Carmen La fleur que tu m’avais jetée;
Nicolai RIMSKY-KORSAKOV (1844 – 1908) Sadko Hindulied;
Richard WAGNER (1813 – 1883) Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg An stillen Herd; Morgenlich leuchtend;
Victor NESSLER (1841 – 1890) Trompeter von Säkkingen Behüt dich Gott;
Wilhelm KIENZL (1857 – 1941) Der Evangelimann Selig sind die Verfolgung leiden;
Eugène d’ALBERT (1864 – 1932) Tiefland Wie ich nun gestern Abend;
Mein Leben wagt’ ich drum;
Giacomo PUCCINI (1858 – 1924) Turandot O weine nicht, Liù (Non piangere Liù);
Keiner schlafe (Nessun dorma);
Richard Tauber (tenor) with orchestra except Sadko with piano accompaniment by Mischa Spoliansky and violin by Dajos Bela
Recorded 1926 – 1946
NAXOS 8.111001 [77 48]

 

There is an earlier collection of opera arias with Richard Tauber on Naxos (8.110729). This covers the period 1919 – 1926 - the acoustic era. The present volume hooks on where the first left off; the electrical era starting somewhere in mid-1926. What one immediately notices when listening to the two discs is the consistency of Tauber’s singing. From the outset all the characteristics of his voice were there: the smoothness of the delivery, the fine shadings, pianissimo singing and a stylishness that he kept, in spite of his singing a lot of operetta and popular songs for a large part of his career. One notices some overdoing of portamenti - that sliding from one note to the next which can at times sentimentalize the music. But his special legato singing is to be found also in his earliest recordings. What is inherent in his voice is a certain stiffness, regardless of its warmth. He seldom colours his voice - he doesn’t have the heroic ring to his top notes that others have had in abundance. Sometimes, instead of producing a seamless diminuendo, he resorts to falsetto singing, though admittedly very beautiful and skilful. He was of course a predominantly lyrical tenor and the Wagner excerpts found on this and the companion disc are typical studio products. He could never have sung them in the theatre, however finely executed they are here.

During his early years he was a leading Mozart interpreter, singing his first Tamino in Die Zauberflöte as early as 1913 when he was not yet 22. Towards the end of his career he returned to Mozart and on this disc we get five arias, four of them recorded in 1938 and 1939, the fifth, a remake of the Tamino aria, recorded in 1946 when the singer was 55 and probably already affected by the lung cancer from which he died a year later. All of them are marvellous examples of stylish Mozart singing, the sentimentality held in check, and this at a time when Mozart singing in general wasn’t very stylish, measured against today’s standards. The only tenor from roughly the same period who was his equal and possibly also surpassed him, was John McCormack. Each of these tracks could serve as a model to any present day tenor aspiring to Mozart. It is also fascinating to hear the 1946 remake and compare. Eight years is a long time, especially for a tenor already approaching 50 as Tauber was when first recording it. You can hear small differences: the actual sound of the voice has dried, but just a smidgeon. There is a little more vibrato, but just a little, and one notices an extra degree of effort, but not much. And it is all still very stylish.

Most of the items, whether German arias or not, are sung in German, as was customary in those days. The two Don Giovanni arias are, luckily, in Italian and both the Godard and Bizet are in French. The Flower Song from Carmen, also recorded in 1946, is another example of stylish, lyrical singing, showing that you don’t need to be a dramatic tenor to sing Don José. Tauber also ends the aria pianissimo as written, with a crescendo in the middle of the final phrase and then fading down to pianissimo again.

I could point out lots of attractive features, but I would instead urge readers to get the disc and find out for themselves. Start from the beginning with the Mozart arias, then listen to the two arias from Les contes d’Hoffmann, sung with a lot of involvement. This was obviously a part that Tauber could identify with. But everything is attractive. It is indeed interesting to hear him as Calaf in Turandot, a part that he even sang on stage in the German premiere of the opera. His interpretation of Nessun dorma is a far cry from the over-the-top versions some present day tenors try to charm their audiences with.

Richard Tauber was, warts and all, one of the truly important singers of the first half of the 20th century. At least one Tauber disc should be in every serious collection of vocal music. This one is probably a safer recommendation than the acoustical volume. It is easier for modern ears to adjust to the sonics of the electrical recordings. The transfers are excellent ... as expected when Ward Marston is in charge.

Strongly recommended!

Göran Forsling

See also review by Evan Dickerson

see review of Volume 1

see review of Popular songs




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