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Ludwig Weber (bass)
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Die Entführung aus dem Serail - Wer ein Liebchen hat gefunden  [2:40]; Wie will ich triumphieren [3:17]
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Fidelio - Hat man nicht auch Gold beineben [2:46]
Carl Maria von WEBER
Der Freischütz - Hier im ird´schen Jammertal [2:01]; Schweig! Schweig! [3:37]
Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901)
Macbeth - Etwas rascher, mein Junge [3:42]
I vespri Siciliani - O tu, Palermo [4:30]
Richard WAGNER (1813-1883)
Tannhäuser - Gar viel und schön [4:55]
Der fliegende Holländer - Mögst du, mein Kind [5:35]
Das Rheingold - Sanft schloss Schlaf dein Aug´ (with Sigurd Bjorling, Friedrich Dalberg and Paula Brivkalne) [6:19]
Götterdämmerung - Hier sitz´ ich zur Wacht [4:21]; Hoiho! Ihr Gibichsmannen [10:32]
Parsifal - Titurel, der fromme Held [9:05]
Modest MUSSORGSKY (1839-1881)

Boris Godunov - Die höchste Macht ist mein [5:00]
Der Rosenkavalier - Da lieg´ ich (with Dagmar Hermann) [11:06]
Ludwig Weber (bass)

Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra/Otto Ackermann, Felix Prohaska, Rudolf Moralt; Orchestra of West German Radio/Richard Kraus; Philharmonia Orchestra/Issay Dobrowen; Orchestra of the Bayreuth Festival/Joseph Keilberth, Herbert von Karajan; Vienna Symphony Orchestra/Rudolf Moralt; Orchestra of the Reichssenders Stuttgart/Carl Leonhardt
rec. 1938-51
PREISER PR89673 [79:36]

This is a convincing selection of an artist in his mature prime – and therefore in the main shortly before the onset of the roughness and friction that were prone to afflict Weber’s voice from the mid-1950s. The repertoire reflects Weber’s stage impersonations faithfully. Even the two examples of the Italian repertoire are acutely selected; he was never neglectful of the influence of Battistini on his own singing. Fortunately the period of influence came early, when Weber shared some stage performances with the brilliant Italian in Vienna in the 1920s. And it’s true – one senses the profound importance of Battistini not simply in the two obvious examples here but rather more as a current that ran throughout Weber’s own – apparently quintessentially – German career.
Most of the recordings here are commercial Columbias. But we do have some pleasing additions. There are live performances culled from radio archives; the Macbeth for example derives from the archives of West German Radio in Cologne – whilst the Sicilian Vespers is an earlier 1949 Columbia. The Flying Dutchman is from Bayreuth in 1955 – at around the same time the Keilberth-led Ring, now causing such a fuss on Testament, was being performed. The same conductor is on hand to deal with the Dutchman and does so with power and panache. There’s an extract from Rheingold given in Bayreuth some years earlier in 1951. The Boris extract is from the only pre-War example of Weber’s art, a radio survival from Stuttgart in 1938. He never recorded it commercially so this is a valuable souvenir of his way with it.
His extract from Seraglio has an avowedly full complement of Weber’s characterful self, as he blusters with avuncular panache and menace.  His vibrato widens for parodic effect with exemplary bluffness and humour. He vests the Freischütz sides with a powerful malignity. His Italian repertoire, as noted, is eloquent and unforced. When it comes to Wagner, which is perhaps where many listeners will “place” him best we find him characteristically impressive. It’s true that he doesn’t have quite the depth of characterisation of, say, Hotter in Parsifal but he’s otherwise truly penetrating an interpreter.  His Gurnemanz is a vivid experience, one of the most revealing and charismatic on disc. No reservations of any kind attend his famous Ochs, probably the most consistently successful on disc, at least, since the glory days of Richard Mayr. There’s no grossness or crudity in the impersonation, simply a richly characterised and inflected stream of sound. With him is Dagmar Hermann, less steady vocally but richly rewarding nevertheless.
A worthy compilation then carried out with care; thoughtfully selected and transferred into the bargain. It’s also a fine place to start to become acquainted with one of the premier bass voices of the twentieth century.
Jonathan Woolf 




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