Aureole etc.




Golden Age singers

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Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

 

Available from the Swedish Music Shop

Great Swedish Singers series on Bluebell
Margareta Hallin: The Early Recordings 1955–1960
Gioacchino ROSSINI (1792–1868)

Il barbiere di Siviglia:
1. Una voce poco fa [5:15]
Jules MASSENET (1842–1912)

Thaïs:
2. Dis-moi que je suis belle [7:00]
Nikolay RIMSKY-KORSAKOV (1844–1908)

Le coq d’or:
3. Salut à toi, soleil [4:32]
Giacomo PUCCINI (1858–1924)

Madama Butterfly:
4. Bimba dagli occhi [12:21]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756–1791)

Die Entführung aus dem Serail:
5. Ach ich liebte, war so glücklich [5:26]
6. Welche Kummer [5:53]
Die Zauberflöte:
7. Der Hölle Rache [2:56]
Giuseppe VERDI (1813–1901)

La traviata:
8. È strano! È strano! [6:44]
Aida:
9. O patria mia [7:08]
Gaetano DONIZETTI (1797–1848)

Lucia di Lammermoor:
10. Il dolce suono [11:02]
Margareta Hallin (soprano), Nicolai Gedda (tenor) (4), Royal Orchestra, Stockholm/Sixten Ehrling (1); Herbert Sandberg (5, 6); Fausto Cleva (10); Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra/Stig Westerberg (2, 3); Swedish Radio Orchestra/Nils Grevillius (4, 9); Orchester der Städtischen Oper, Berlin/Artur Rother (7, 8)
rec. 1955-1960
BLUEBELL ABCD 060 [69:20]



Kjerstin Dellert: En Prima Primadonna
George GERSHWIN (1898–1937)

1. The Man I Love [3:41]
Porgy and Bess:
2. My Man’s Gone [4:27]
Karl MILLÖCKER (1842–1899)

Die Dubarry:
3. Ich schenk mein Herz [2:21]
Franz von SUPPÉ (1819–1895)

Boccaccio:
4. Mia bella Fiorentina [6:05]
Franz LEHÁR (1870–1948)

Zigeunerliebe:
5. Hör ich Cymbalklänge [3:47]
Kurt WEILL (1900–1950)

Die Dreigroschenoper:
6. Seeräuberjennys Lied [2:58]
Giacomo PUCCINI (1858–1924)

La Bohème:
7. Quando me’n vo soletta [2:49]
Georges BIZET (1838–1875)

Carmen:
8. Près des ramparts de Séville [3:50]
Richard STRAUSS (1864–1949)

Der Rosenkavalier:
9. Mir ist die Ehre widerfahren [5:55]
Karl-Birger BLOMDAHL (1916–1968)

Aniara:
10. Libidellavisan [3:37]
Hilding ROSENBERG (1892–1985)

Josef och hans bröder (Joseph and his brothers, oratorio):
11. Förgäves har jag kämpat [3:27]
Ruggiero LEONCAVALLO (1858–1919)

Pagliacci:
12. Qual fiamma avea nel guardo [4:40]
13. E allor perché [3:34]
Alban BERG (1885–1935)

Wozzeck:
14. Maries Wiegenlied [4:10]
Richard WAGNER (1813–1883)

Tannhäuser:
15. Geliebter, komm [9:50]
Kjerstin Dellert (soprano), Per Grundén (tenor) (4), Arne Hendriksen (tenor)(8), Eva Prytz (soprano)(9), Ingvar Wixell (baritone) (13), Set Svanholm (tenor) (15),Swedish Radio Light Orchestra/Åke Jelving(1), Egon Kjerrman (2, 4, 7), Cabaret Orchestra, Stockholm/Åke Jelving (3, 5), Studio Ensemble/Stig Rybrant (6), Royal Orchestra, Stockholm/Sixten Ehrling (8-10, 14, 15), Stig Westerberg (11), Bertil Bokstedt (12, 13)
rec. 1955–1962
BLUEBELL ABCD 083 [66:38]



Barbro Ericson: Contralto
Guiseppe VERDI (1813–1901)

Don Carlo:
1. O don fatale [4:31]
Requiem:
2. Liber scriptus [4:46] 3. Recordare [4:11]
Aida:
4. Fu la sorte dell’armi [9:33]
Un ballo in maschera:
5. Re dell’abisso, affrettati [6:07]
Carl NIELSEN (1865–1931)

Maskarade:
6. Är det någon inne?(Magdelone’s dance scene)[7:44]
Saul og David:
7. Vem bultar? [6:30]
Richard WAGNER (1813–1883)

Lohengrin:
8. Elsa! …Wer ruft? [5:29]
Das Rheingold:
9. Weiche, Wotan, weiche! [5:34]
Pyotr TCHAIKOVSKY (1840–1893)

The Queen of Spades:
10. Ach, postyl mne etot svet [6:23]
Modest MUSSORGSKY (1839–1881)

Boris Godunov:
11. Dimitrij! Tsarevitj! (Garden scene)[11:07]
Barbro Ericson (contralto), Elisabeth Söderström (soprano) (3), Anita Välkki (soprano) (4), Sven-Olof Eliasson (tenor) (5), Gösta Winbergh (tenor), Carl’Johan Falkman (baritone), Arne Tyrén (bass) (6), Bo Lundborg (baritone), Sigurd Björling (baritone) (7), Aase Nordmo-Løvberg (soprano) (8), Ragnar Ulfung (tenor) (11), Royal Orchestra and Chorus/Herbert Sandberg (1), Sixten Ehrling (4), Silvio Varviso (5, 8), Okko Kamu (6), Vaclav Kaslik (10), Bohumil Gregor (11), Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra/Stig Westerberg (2, 3), Tor Mann (7), Gunnar Staern (9)
rec. 1957–1973)
BLUEBELL ABCD 094 [73:17]


Elisabeth Söderström: Come scoglio
Ferruccio BUSONI (1866–1924)

Doktor Faust:
1. Er ruft mich wie mit tausend Stimmen [6:40]
Maurice RAVEL (1875–1937)

Sheherazade:
2. Asïe [8:21]
3. La flûte enchantée [2:25]
4. L’indifferént [2:59]
Richard STRAUSS (1864–1949)

Der Rosenkavalier:
5. Kann mich auch an ein Mädel erinnern [3:58]
Giacomo PUCCINI (1858–1924)

Manon Lescaut:
6. Tu, tu, amore? [7:19]
Suor Angelica:
7. Senza mamma [4:51]
Richard WAGNER (1813–1883)

Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg:
8. Gut’n Abend, Meister! [8:34]
Friedrich von FLOTOW (1812–1883)

Martha:
9. Nur näher, schöne Mädchen (Quartet act 2) [8:41]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756–1791)

Le nozze di Figaro:
10. Deh vien, non tardar [3:34]
Così fan tutte:
11. Come scoglio [5:35]
Franz BERWALD (1796–1868)

Drottningen av Golconda:
12. Du hatar ej den sorg [8:05]
Elisabeth Söderström (soprano), Åke Ljungholm (tenor) (6), Sigurd Björling (baritone) (8), Siw Eicsdotter (soprano), Nicolai Gedda (tenor), Folke Jonsson (bass) (9), Royal Orchestra, Stockholm/Leif Segerstam (1), Sixten Ehrling (5), Herbert Sandberg (8), Stig Westerberg (12), Malmö Symphony Orchestra/Stig Rybrant (2-4), Malmö Radio Orchestra/Stig Rybrant (6), Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra/Sixten Ehrling (7), Colin Davis (10), Stig Westerberg (11), Swedish Radio Orchestra/Stig Rybrant (9)
rec. 1952–1977
BLUEBELL ABCD 095 [72:11]


Erik Saedén: Bass-baritone
Gaetano DONIZETTI (1796–1848)

L’Elisir d’amore:
1. Udite, o rustici [6:17]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756–1791)

Le nozze di Figaro:
2. Hai già vinta la causa? [4:44]
Edouard Du PUY (ca. 1770–1822)

Ungdom og galskab: 3. God natt kabaler! [6:33]
Wilhelm PETERSON-BERGER (1867–1942)

Arnljot:
4. Alltjämt de mäktiga fjäll sig välva [7:56]
Karl-Birger BLOMDAHL (1916–1968)

Aniara:
5. Förflyttningen till Tundra tre [6:10]
Giuseppe VERDI (1813–1901)

Macbeth:
6. Mi si addaccia un pugnal? [8:22]
Il trovatore:
7. All’erta! All’erta! [6:14]
Un ballo in maschera:
8. Libero è il varco a voi [4:22]
Charles GOUNOD (1818–1893)

Faust:
9. Le veau d’or [2:41]
Richard STRAUSS (1864–1949)

Elektra:
10. Ich muss hier warten [8:33]
Felix MENDELSSOHN-BARTHOLDY (1809–1847)

Paulus:
11. Gott sei mir gnädig [5:42]
Jerome KERN (1885–1945)

Show Boat:
12. Ol’ Man River [3:01]
Erik Saedén (bass-baritone), Margareta Hallin (soprano) (6), Birgit Nordin (soprano), Ragnar Ulfung (tenor) (8), Birgit Nilsson (soprano) (10), Drottningholm Chamber Orchestra and Chorus/Charles Farncombe (1), Swedish Radio Orchestra/Sten Frykberg (2), Norrköping Radio Orchestra/Stig Rybrant (3), Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra/Kurt Bendix (4), Frieder Meschwitz (9), Torsten Nilsson (11), Royal Orchestra Stockholm/Sixten Ehrling (5), Carlo Felice Cillario (6), Herbert Sandberg (7, 8), Berislav Klobucar (10), Swedish Radio Light Orchestra/Jerry Högstedt (12)
rec. 1959–1980
BLUEBELL ABCD 098 [71:49]



Gösta Winbergh: Tenor
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756–1791)

La clemenza di Tito:
1. Del più sublime soglio [3:00]
2. Ah, se fosse intorno [2:36]
Giacomo MEYERBEER (1791–1864)

L’Africaine:
3. Ô Paradis! [3:27]
Charles GOUNOD (1818–1893)

Faust:
4. Mon Coeur est pénétré [9:46]
Richard WAGNER (1813–1883)

Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg:
5. Mein Herr! Der Singer Meisterschlag [7:16]
6. Gleich, Meister! Hier! [7:31]
Leo DELIBES (1836–1891)

Lakmé:
7. D’où viens tu? [7:05]
Jules MASSENET (1842–1912)

Manon:
8. J’ai marqué l’heure du départ [8:11]
Francesco CILEA (1866–1950)

L’Arlesiana:
9. È la solita storia [4:50]
Carl NIELSEN (1865–1931)

Maskarade:
10. Roser! Roser! [4:34]
Debut 1971–Stora Teatern, Gothenburg:
Giacomo PUCCINI (1858–1924)

La Bohème:
11. Che gelida manina [4:28]
12. Marcello! Finalmente! [4:40]
13. In un coupé? … O Mimi [4:07]
Gösta Winbergh /tenor), Elisabeth Söderström (soprano), Erik Saedén (bass-baritone)(4), Sven-Olof Eliasson (tenor) (5), Leif Roar (baritone) (6), Britt-Marie Aruhn (soprano) (7), Gunnel Bohman (soprano) (8), Anita Soldh (soprano) (10), Christina Gorne (soprano) (12), Per Stokholm (baritone) (12, 13), Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra/Gary Bertini (1, 2), Frieder Meschwitz (3, 9), Ulf Söderblom (4, 7), Royal Orchestra/Berislav Klobucar (5, 6), Okko Kamu (10), Norrköping Symphony Orchestra/Franz Welser-Möst (8), Stora Teatern Orchestra, Gothenburg/Gunnar Staern (11-13)
rec. 1971–1987
BLUEBELL ABCD 099 [72:49]

The Swedish independent company Bluebell has for more than a decade been issuing material from the Swedish Radio archives under the collective title "Great Swedish Singers". This has been an enormously valuable cultural mission that should not only be lauded in written panegyrics but also result in some financial return. Less than a year ago I reviewed a disc with Birgit Nilsson, mainly recorded during the early 1960s (review) and just recently a 2 CD set of mostly unpublished recordings with Jussi Björling came my way. Here I have collected six CDs from Bluebell’s back catalogue. I hope that I will be able to come back with some more.

Of these six singers, Elisabeth Söderström shouldn’t need an introduction, well known from loads of recordings, not least as the natural choice of heroine in several of Charles Mackerras’s prize-winning series of Janacek operas for Decca. Gösta Winbergh also had an important international career, took part in a number of complete opera recordings, but unfortunately his assumption of the heavier repertoire gradually embraced during the last decade or so of his life, remained unrecorded, apart from a good Meistersinger on DVD. There is however a recording on Naxos of his Florestan in Fidelio which should definitely be heard. The other four singers remained loyal to the Royal Opera in Stockholm, even though they would have been assets on the international circuit and also made guest appearances abroad.

All of them made commercial recordings but mostly in non-operatic repertoire. Besides the opportunity to hear some of the most prominent singers from one Golden Age of Swedish opera singing, these discs also mirror the wide scope of repertoire at the Royal Opera, not least including Swedish and other Scandinavian rarities. A couple of excerpts are from world premieres, most important perhaps, scenes from Karl-Birger Blomdahl’s space opera Aniara, which made quite a stir when it was premiered on 31 May 1959. Both Erik Saedén and Kjerstin Dellert sing snippets from this occasion. It should also be mentioned that Caprice recorded the opera complete in the 1980s with Saedén again singing the Mimarobe. We also get music from epoch-making performances like Wozzeck, Nielsen’s Maskarade and Saul og David, Busoni’s Doktor Faust and Berwald’s Drottningen av Golconda and, on Saedén’s disc, the most famous aria from what was once regarded as the Swedish national opera, Wilhelm Peterson-Berger’s Arnljot. The discs also give us some glimpses of other great singers at the Royal Opera: Nicolai Gedda, Per Grundén – for many years the great operetta favourite in Vienna, legendary Wagner tenor Set Svanholm, Ingvar Wixell, Sigurd Björling – Bayreuth’s first Wotan after the war, Aase Nordmo-Lövberg, Ragnar Ulfung and Birgit Nilsson as Elektra, recorded at her very first performance of a role that became one of her greatest. Quite a lot of the excerpts are sung in Swedish, which was common practice in those days.

The sound is variable, considering age and provenance, but it is never less than acceptable and in most cases quite comparable to regular studio recordings of the same age. Some of the music was recorded at the Royal Opera, quite a lot at sundry concerts and there are also, on the Margareta Hallin disc, a couple of commercial studio recordings: the Queen of the Night and Violetta arias are from a Telefunken (as it was then) EP, recorded at the beginning of her career when everybody counted on a brilliant international future for her. The Rosina aria from Barbiere, is even earlier, recorded the same year as her debut (in this role) as part of an LP with around a dozen singers from the Royal Opera. This recording should give this a new lease of life on CD. EMI please take note!

A few comments on the separate discs and singers:

Margareta Hallin was a sensation from the very beginning and few sopranos of her or indeed any generation can challenge her when it comes to brilliant coloratura, beauty of voice and sense of style. I first heard her live as Konstanze in Die Entführung aus dem Serail in the late 1960s and no singer to my knowledge has ever surpassed her in this role. The same goes for her Rosina, Queen of the Night and Violetta. Especially the last-named was for many years her signature role; I don’t know how many times I enjoyed it in the theatre. Her Lucia need fear competition from very few and we also get her in somewhat heavier repertoire, which she gradually essayed with great success: Aida is heard here, she was a wonderful Leonora in Il trovatore (there was once a highlights LP with Rolf Björling, Jussi’s son, singing Manrico), her Lady Macbeth can be heard on the Saedén disc and her last new role was Medea, which I hope will one day be available from the archives. Those who feel reluctant to invest in the whole series at once should definitely start here.

Kjerstin Dellert was, and is, one of the most versatile of Swedish singers. Born in 1925 she started singing in the 1940s and has appeared in all kinds of repertoire from contemporary opera to jazz and ABBA and also as a speaking actor. She even has several film roles to her credit. In the early 1970s she and Elisabeth Söderström had a series of enormously popular TV-shows, "Prima Primadonnas", and she has during the last few decades devoted much time and effort to the resuscitation of the Confidencen court theatre at Ulriksdal just north of Stockholm. She loved to cross borders and a few borders are also crossed on her thrilling disc, where besides the excerpt from Aniara, Marie’s lullaby from Wozzeck is a fine memento of one of her most prominent creations.

Barbro Ericson was that rarest of things, a really fruity, deep, thundering contralto. She had a stage presence comparable to Kjerstin Dellert’s and while her acting wasn’t as many-faceted as Ms Dellert’s she was the most commanding, both visually and vocally. Something of this is inevitably lost on a sound-only disc but there is enough left to convince even those who never saw her. Eboli, Amneris and Ulrica are magnificent and she was also a great Wagnerian, which the Lohengrin and Rheingold excerpts give evidence of. Her Fricka in Die Walküre, which I saw in the early 1970s, singing against the monumental Sigurd Björling, was also something quite exceptional. Her Kundry can be seen on the CD cover above.

It is a pity that Elisabeth Söderström was never granted an opportunity to record Der Rosenkavalier complete, since her Feldmarschallin was so special. She first sang Sophie and later Octavian, and this assumption is preserved on a Decca highlights disc, recorded in the mid-1960s, with Silvio Varviso conducting. Hilde Güden was a still youngish Sophie and Régine Crespin a marginally fresher Marschallin than on her complete set with Solti a few years later. There is a glimpse of Ms Söderström’s Marschallin on an all-Strauss recital on EMI with Vier letzte Lieder, recorded a few years too late, so the four minutes from her first act monologue on the present disc, recorded in 1960 when she was about the same age as the Feldmarschallin is supposed to be, are something to treasure. Swedish Television should have in their vaults a complete Rosenkavalier, though – something for release on DVD? Otherwise she is a lovely Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro and of course the perfect Fiordiligi. In the very early quartet from Martha, with the imposing bass Folke Jonsson and Nicolai Gedda, only a half year after his official debut in Stockholm, she is a youthfully twittering Lady Harriet. Ravel’s Shéhérazade is unfortunately sung in Swedish but it is still wonderful to have it on disc and there is fine rapport between her Eva and Sigurd Björling’s Hans Sachs.

Erik Saedén was, and is, one of the great singing actors of all times, and also in the relatively small role as the Speaker in Ingmar Bergman’s legendary Die Zauberflöte film, he made his mark immediately. As time went on his voice dried out somewhat and lost something of its magisterial sonority but his acting and expressiveness remained undiminished and no singer to my knowledge has enunciated the text with such pregnancy. This can be heard on all the tracks here. His Macbeth, represented by a scene from the first act with a somewhat over-vibrant Margareta Hallin, was really spine-chilling. His Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro was not to be trifled with. He is a memorable Mephistofeles and shows his cavernous depth in Ol’ Man River. The only thing I regret is that room could not be found for his priceless Beckmesser in Götz Friedrich’s superb Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, premiered in 1977 – can it really be that long ago? This is another production that was televised so I must add this one too to my wish-list – as I would the Göran Gentele-Sixten Ehrling Un ballo in maschera, from which there is an excerpt here where we also encounter Ragnar Ulfung’s brilliant Gustavus.

The sixth singer here, Gösta Winbergh, belonged to a later generation than the others and tragically died all too early while still at the top of his trade. He started as a quite lyrical singer, much sought after as a Mozart interpreter of exceptional elegance. During the 1990s he moved over to heavier fields, adding Lohengrin, Walther von Stolzing, Parsifal, Tristan and Siegmund, roles that are not represented here. There is however a Sony disc where we get central parts from Lohengrin and Meistersinger. Here we hear him, besides three excerpts from his 1971 debut as Rodolfo in Gothenburg, in Mozart, some French repertoire and a duet from Nielsen’s Maskarade, an opera in which I admired him very much. Also there are two scenes from the aforementioned Meistersinger, where he was a lively and eager David. At the time, Leif Aare wrote prophetically in Dagens Nyheter that in ten years time he will be a great Walther. Considering Winbergh’s very lyrical voice in 1977, I much doubted this prophecy, but Aare was right and few tenors of the day, Heppner and Domingo apart, could challenge him. In due time I hope Bluebell will be able to produce a disc with the "mature" Winbergh. As it is we have him here as the very fine lyrical tenor from which he started.

There are informative biographical notes in Swedish and English and I would urge readers to give this series a try. They do indeed cover a very important period in the annals of Stockholm’s Royal Opera.

Göran Forsling


 



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