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Preiser Records


Emmy Bettendorf (soprano)
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Marriage of Figaro: Heil´ge Quelle reiner Triebe [3:34]; Nur zu flüchtig bist Du entschwunden [2:59]; Wenn die sanften Abendwinde with Mizzi Fink [3:11]; O säume länger nicht, geliebte Seele [4:03]
Carl Maria von WEBER (1786-1826)
Der Freischütz -Und ob die Wolke sie verhülle [4:27]
Georges GOUNOD (1818-1893)
Faust - Es war ein König in Thule [4:49]
Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901)
Il Trovatore - In Deines Kerkers tiefe Nacht [3:31]
Richard WAGNER (1813-1883)
Tannhäuser - O Fürstin with Lauritz Melchior [8:50]
Lohengrin - Einsam in trüben Tagen [4:46]; Euch Lüften, die mein Klagen [3:54]
Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg - Gut´n Abend, Meister with Alfred Jerger [8:17]
Peter CORNELIUS (1824-1874)
Der Barbier von Bagdad - Er kommt, er kommt with Margarete Arndt-Ober and Waldemar Henke [7:04]
Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949)
Der Rosenkavalier - Kann mich auch an ein Mädl erinnern [4:25]; Quinquin, er soll jetzt gehn [4:42]
Ariadne auf Naxos - Ein schönes war [7:55]
Emmy Bettendorf (soprano)
Orchester der Staatsoper Berlin/Paul Breisach, Fritz Stiedry, Frieder Weissmann, Bruno Weyersberg
PREISER 89672 [76:34]


I hope this won’t be the only Preiser tribute to Emmy Bettendorf (1895-1963). Her Parlophones, acoustic and electric, were numerous but her renown was all too often taken for granted. As this disc of carefully chosen and very adequately restored acoustic sides show she was one of the best singers of her kind in a generation not entirely lacking soprano heft.

It goes without saying that her technical apparatus was entirely capable of sustaining the demands made on it during the course of these fifteen sides. She does exhibit that well-known habit of slightly scooping up to the note though it’s seldom obtrusive and was probably not so much a technical frailty as an expressive device. It’s a shame that the Figaro extracts are lumbered with the then obligatory orchestral bass reinforcements, as they’re - in acoustic terms - very successful in filling out and projecting a marmoreal line and occasionally drawing the ear away from Bettendorf. These extracts are sung in German. The top of the voice has always been noted but how she well she could project and sustain the lower half can be discerned in O säume länger nicht, geliebte Seele.

We can hear some ravishing top notes, floated with exquisite charm, in the Weber extract.  And in the rarer example of her French repertoire, the Faust, we can admire her usefully idiomatic intelligence. The copy used sounds just a mite weary and there are a few well-concealed thumps along the way. In the single example of her Italian roles, the Verdi Il Trovatore, we can hear once more how she floats her sound with such precision and musicality. We can also note her portamento-fluid approach to this kind of repertoire, which is very much noticeable than in the core German. 

In the extract from Tannhäuser she’s joined by Lauritz Melchior. This was a single disc and the expansive eight minutes available resonates with their sympathetic and creative partnership. It also shows what kind of company she was keeping in 1924. She was a Wagnerian of note with her Lohengrin evincing a powerful and declamatory passion without any forcing of tone. It’s a point worthy noting that there’s no curdling or squally tone production at all with Bettendorf. True, her Die Meistersinger extract with Alfred Jerger does sound rather becalmed and lacking in personality but her Strauss makes up for it. The Rosenkavalier and Ariadne extracts, brief though they are, reveal a soprano entirely within the idiom and with just the right tonal qualities to inhabit and embody the finest of Strauss’s creations. What a pity we don’t possess a raft of complete operatic recordings from her.

So, I do hope there are plenty more Parlophones to come from the Preiser stable. This worthy salute to Bettendorf makes us impatient to fill in some discographic gaps.

Jonathan Woolf

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