Franz SCHUBERT (1797–1828) Lieder 1. An die Musik D547 [2:39]
2. Im Frühling D882 [4:27]
3. Wehmut D772 [2:58]
4. Ganymed D544 [4:46]
5. Das Lied im Grünen D917 [4:30]
6. Gretchen am Spinnrade D118 [3:24]
7. Nähe des Geliebten D162 [3:16]
8. Die junge Nonne D828 [4:46]
9. An Sylvia D891 [3:04]
10. Auf dem Wasser zu singen D774 [3:18]
11. Nachtviolen D752 [2:48]
12. Der Musensohn D764 [2:05] 13. Litanei auf das Fest Allerseelen, D343
[5:35] Die schöne Müllerin, D795: 14. No. 7. Ungeduld [2:58] Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770–1827)
15. Ah, perfido! – Concert Aria, Op. 65 [14:18] Fidelio, Op. 72: 16. Abscheulicher! Wo eilst du hin? [7:51] Elisabeth
Schwarzkopf (soprano), Edwin Fischer (piano) (1-12); Gerald Moore
(piano) (13, 14); Philharmonia Orchestra/Herbert von Karajan
rec. EMI Abbey Road Studio 1A, London, 4-7 October 1952 (1-12);
EMI Abbey Road Studio 1, London, 9-10 January 1954; Watford Town
Hall, 20 September 1954 NAXOS HISTORICAL
The first twelve tracks on this disc constitute one of the most
famous Schubert recitals from the early LP era. Rarely if ever
has Elisabeth Schwarzkopf sounded better or given so lovely and
unaffected readings of German Lieder. One possible reason is that
she was exceptionally inspired and one source for inspiration,
apart from the songs themselves, may have been the presence of
the legendary Edwin Fischer. He rarely, to my knowledge at least,
appeared as accompanist but when he did he obviously managed to
invest the piano part with that little extra that becomes the
germ for great music-making. I praised this recital less than
a year ago when it was issued on a Urania double-CD. Then it was
in harness with her likewise famous and arguably never surpassed
recitals with songs by Mozart with Walter Gieseking – another
individualist who seldom worked as an accompanist. That set also
offered Wolf lieder with the greatest of those who rarely appeared
as anything but accompanist: Gerald Moore. Interested readers
are referred to my review.
Musically they are interchangeable and there is little to choose
between the transfers. I noticed some rumble on the Urania set,
when I listened through headphones, and this low-frequency noise
disappeared between the tracks so I concluded that it was surface
noise from the original LP. It didn’t dim my listening pleasure
and when I made some A/B tests, turning up the volume more than
was good for my eardrums, it was hardly noticeable on either of
the discs. Playing time for individual tracks differs slightly
between the issues but I couldn’t detect any differences in pitch.
The only reason to choose the Naxos is that there is more space
between the tracks, which leaves room for some digestion and contemplation
before the next song starts.
In addition there
is more than half an hour more music on the present issue and
those recordings are also immensely interesting. First we get
a wholly lovely interpretation of Litanei, a song that
poses problems for the singer with its nine stanzas. Schwarzkopf
and Moore make a consummate reading where every phrase, every
inflexion is so well weighed and her tone so infallibly beautiful.
Ungeduld, from Die schöne Müllerin is more ordinary
– but ordinary Schwarzkopf is often in a league of its own anyway.
There is though some occasional uncharacteristic strain.
The two Beethoven
arias are unexpected pieces, neither of which she ever sang
on stage or in the concert hall, and theoretically they should
be on the heavy side for her. That she would be wonderful in
the lyrical sections of Ah, perfido! was only to be expected
but she also manages the dramatic outpourings with flying colours
and she knows exactly the limitations of her vocal resources.
There are a couple of low notes in Abscheulicher! where
she is slightly uncomfortable, but otherwise hers is as good
a reading as any I have heard – which goes some way to say that
this is in no way a territory reserved for Hochdramatische
singers in the Flagstad or Nilsson mould. With alert conducting
and excellent playing from the original Philharmonia these are
versions of the arias that require to be heard. The sound is
more than acceptable.
Collectors of this
Naxos series of Schwarzkopf reissues need not hesitate – unless
they want the Wolf and Mozart recitals, but I wouldn’t be surprised
if they appear on this label before long.
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