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Inga Nielsen - Live and Studio Recordings 1952–2007

George Frideric HANDEL (1685–1759)
1. My Vengeance [4:29]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756–1791)
2. Tutte nel cor vi sento [5:18]
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770–1827)
3. Abscheulicher! Wo eilst du hin? [7:28]
Gaetano DONIZETTI (1797–1848)
Lucia di Lammermoor:
4. Il dolce suono [16:13]
Giuseppe VERDI (1813–1901)
La traviata:
5. ‘Deh non mutate in triboli [16:00]
Charles GOUNOD (1818–1893)
6. O Dieu! que de bijoux! [4:54]
Jules MASSENET (1842–1912)
7. Toi! Vous! Oui … c’est moi! [8:34]
Richard WAGNER (1813–1883)
8. Dich, teure Halle [5:07]
Richard STRAUSS (1864–1949)
Die Frau ohne Schatten:
9. Wehe, mein Mann [3:52]
10. Ich kann nicht sitzen [6:07]
Max REGER (1873–1916)
1. Waldeinsamkeit [1:42]
Johannes BRAHMS (1833–1897)
2. Vergebliches Ständchen [1:40]
3. Och Moder, ich well en Ding han [1:59]
Giovanni Battista PERGOLESI (1710–1736)
Stabat Mater:
4. Vidit suum dulcem natum [5:43]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART
5. Ch’io mi scordi di te, Concert Aria K505 [10:11]
6. Im Abendrot from Vier letzte Lieder [8:05]
Arnold SCHÖNBERG (1874–1951)
7. Erwartung [30:56]
Franz LEHÁR (1870–1948)
Die lustige Witwe:
8. Bitte, meine Herrn! [3:36]
Jerome KERN (1885–1945)
9. Can’t help lovin’ dat man [3:42]
Robert MacGIMSEY (1898–1979)
10. Sweet little Jesus Boy [3:22]
11. The Year’s at the Spring [2:00]
Carl NIELSEN (1865–1931)
12. Jeg ved en laerkerede [1:00]
Harold FRASER-SIMSON (1872–1944)
13. Christopher Robin is saying his prayers [3:16]
Inga Nielsen (soprano)
Knut Skram (baritone) (CD1 tr. 5); Placido Domingo (tenor) (CD1 tr. 7); various accompanists and orchestras, conducted by Christopher Hogwood, Gustav Kühn, Gerd Albrecht, Antonio Pappano, Eugene Kohn, Michael Schønwandt, Lamberto Gardelli, Ingo Metzmacher, Heinz Wallberg, David Firman
rec. 1952-2007
sung texts can be found on
CHANDOS CHAN 10444(2) [78:40 + 78:13]

Audio samples available

One of the most versatile of today’s singers … this set of mostly live recordings is a fine portrait of her abilities.

No, it’s not a misprint in the header! The earliest recording on this set was made in the USA in 1952, by the then six-year-old Inga Nielsen, accompanied at the piano by her father Arne. Moreover there are two sides from her first commercial record, issued by Columbia in 1955. She was nine! It is easy to realize, when hearing her musical phrasing and care for the texts in 1955 that she was something beyond a pretty voice.
Christopher Robin is saying his prayers is narrated with dramatic insight. Listening to the mature soprano it is her declamation and inflexion of the words that stand out just as much as her voice: agile and lyrical in the excerpts from the early 1980s, full-bodied and dramatic in the arias from latter years. It is amazing how well preserved her voice is in August 2006 when she is heard singing with tremendous power Chrysothemis’s solo from Elektra. It is a little sad though, that one of her favourite encores, Sweet little Jesus Boy, recorded as recently as April this year (2007) shows a marked vocal deterioration. Her phrasing is as innate and moving as ever but the tone is frayed and the intonation uncertain. 
On the first CD we hear her in some favourite operatic roles. The span is wide, from baroque to Richard Strauss and the highlights are numerous. Her Fidelio aria is superb – less than a half-year before this performance she had recorded the opera complete for Naxos, a version that is among the most recommendable in the catalogue. Both her Lucia and Violetta are moving experiences – in the long scene from the second act of Traviata we also meet Norwegian baritone Knut Skram as a good Germont. From an outdoor event in the ‘Parken’-Stadium in Copenhagen, before an audience of 28,000, we get a glowing performance of the big duet from Manon, where Inga Nielsen is partnered by a Placido Domingo on top form. Elisabeth’s Greeting Song from Tannhäuser is another superb reading as is the Empress’s solo from Die Frau ohne Schatten.
As a recitalist she is lively and communicative, especially in the two Brahms songs. The beautiful Reger song is lyrical and sweet, accompanied by a very young Antonio Pappano in 1984. She sings the aria from Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater with beautiful hushed legato. Nielsen first made her mark as a Mozart singer and in the big concert aria K505 she shows her credentials in that capacity. Here Pappano is both conductor and pianist. The last song from Strauss’s Vier letzte Lieder – Abendrot is beautifully inward but extremely slow. Of all the recorded versions in my collection only René Kollo’s is more expansive.
Arnold Schönberg’s monodrama Erwartung – 30 minutes long – is surely the toughest nut here, both for the singer and the listener. Nielsen has become something of an Erwartung missionary – she even went on a European tour in 2005 with this work. I can’t say I have come to terms with this piece which, besides its musical complexity, is also textually difficult to access. I felt that this reading from 2003 brought me closer to the music than any other I have heard.
In lighter fare she is a glorious Hanna Glawari in The merry widow, sung in Danish and in the song from Showboat she adjusts to the lazy swing arrangement and adopts a smoky Sarah Vaughan tone.
Inga Nielsen is a remarkable singer and her versatility is stunning. She has also been wise in her choice of repertoire, not rushing into heavier roles too early. This has also allowed her to maintain her professional career for 35 years, which is the reason for this retrospective album. Ms Nielsen has written very informative and personal notes on the music and her roles. The booklet is adorned with numerous photos from her various roles. Her many admirers should without delay lay hands on this attractive pair of discs.
Göran Forsling


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