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Semperoper Volume 1 - Gott! Welch dunkel hier!
“God! What darkness here … “ - The earliest postwar Dresden recordings
see end of review for details
rec. 1945-51
HÄNSSLER PROFIL PH10007 [3 CDs: 77:43 +76:03 + 77:53 + ]

Experience Classicsonline

This is the first in a promised documentary series, and contains three CDs and a DVD. The performances are all Dresden radio performances, starting in 1945, and a large swathe of them has not been previously released, though collectors will know that some of these excerpts have made it to commercial recordings; some of the Hans Hopf sides have certainly been available before, for example, and the same is true for a few others. However it remains true to say that the majority appear for the first time in this form.

The singers are Berd Aldenhoff, Kurt Böhme, Werner Faulhaber, Gottlob Frick, Christel Goltz, Hans Hopf, Inger Karen, Lisa Otto, Karl Paul, Heinz Sauerbaum, Arno Schellenberg, Elfride Trötschen, and Elfriede Weidlich, Werner Liebling, Karl Paul, Helena Rott, Ruth Lange, and Dora Zschille. The conductors are Joseph Keilberth, Gerhart Wiesenhütter, Rolf Kleinert, Werner Liebling, Karl Paul, Gerhard Lenssen and Hans Löwlein. Everything was recorded between 1945 and 1951. Everything is sung in German.

The repertoire embraces Mozart, the Italians, Smetana, Tchaikovsky, Flotow, Strauss, and Dvorák, amongst others, and of course the extract from Fidelio that lends its text to the sub-title of the set. The Italian representation is very strong; and whilst there is some Strauss, there is no Wagner.

The arias and scenes may be well-known but not all the singers are, and this is one way in which this release will prove attractive. One such was the short lived Werner Faulhaber who died at 25 in a mountain fall, and who sings Mozart with a certain ebullience and power. Much better known are the two resident Dresden basses, Kurt Böhme and Gottlob Frick, who formed a formidable team in the city and whose every appearance supports posterity’s view of them; the former splendid in the Merry Widow, in particular. In this scene we can also hear from the excellent Elfriede Weidlich. One singer who was with the company for decades was Arno Schellenberg, but his Rossini I find crude and exaggerated, and there’s some tape damage. Perhaps this is a good moment to note that the sound quality, whilst obviously variable, is nevertheless first class for the time and circumstances involved.

Helena Rott is an uneven artist here – very good in places but, as in Martha, unconvincing. Tenor Werner Liebling is not especially elegant or velvet-toned in Mozart. Christel Goltz is another in-and-out singer. Often she is fine but her Verdi is patchy and out of tune in La forza del destino, but much improved in Don Carlos, which was taped three years earlier. Bernd Aldenhoff is a personable tenor.

A sequence has been constructed from La Bohème extracts sung by various singers between 1945 and 1951. Hopf, who is usually a reliable singer, is a bit unwieldy in his appearance here. There is also a hefty 27 minute slice from Aida with Goltz, Rott and Aldenhoff from October 1947, which impresses. Another longer extract is the final scene from Salome (Goltz, Karén, Aldenhoff, 1948 conducted by Keilberth). Elfride Trötschel sings softly and splendidly in her Rusalka extract, of which she made a well known studio recording. One could also mention the young and impressive Lisa Otto in Mozart.

The DVD is in German with no subtitles in any other language. It includes a DEFA documentary film ‘Dresden – Aufbau im Osten’ (1946); ‘My Dresden Years’ – memories from Joseph Keilberth, Christel Goltz, Lisa Otto; ‘Cristel Goltz – privat’ (1949) plus a bonus of Elfride Trötschel singing Du lieber Mond with the Staatskapelle, Dresden and Kempe. It’s a powerful affair, well watch watching.

Finally a word about the book that goes with this set; booklet is inadequate to describe the 241 book in German and English translation, which has been compiled, produced and indeed reproduced with painstaking intelligence. It’s a vivid document, profusely illustrated in black and white, and in colour, with full recording details, artist biographies and background to the enterprise. It really is an outstanding piece of work.

In short, this set collates radio performances of some considerable rarity, and presents them in a superbly documented way.

Jonathan Woolf

CD 1
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Fidelio - Gott! Welch dunkel hier! [6:55]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
The Marriage of Figaro – Ach öffnet Eure Augen [4:18]
Endlich nahet sich die Stunde [5:53]
Umberto GIORDANO (1867-1948)
André Chénier – Den Blick hatt’ ich erhoben [4:07]
Otto NICOLAI (1810-1849)
Die lustigen Weiber von Windsor – Nein, das ist wirklich zu keck [8:15]
Als Büblein klein der Mutterbrust [3:43]
Wohl denn, gefasst ist der Entschluss [7:00]
Gioacchino ROSSINI (1792-1868)
The Barber of Seville – Ich bin das Faktotum [4:50]
Friderich von FLOTOW (1812-1883)
Martha - Ja, was nun [5:35]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART
The Magic Flute – Der Vogerlfänger bin ich ja [2:14]
Dies Bildnis ist bezaubernd schön [3:45]
O Isis und Osiris [3:08]
In diesen heil’gen Hallen [4:23]
Ach, ich fühl’s, es ist entschewunden [4:37]
Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen wünscht [3:46]
Pa, Pa, Papagena [2:28]
Die Strahlen der Sonne [2:40]
CD 2
Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901)
La forza del destino – Sende mir Frieden [4:22]
Il Trovatore – Lodern zum Himmel (Manrico, stretta) [2:21]
Ballo in Maschera – Ich bin dir nah [8:10]
Don Carlos – Verhäangnisvoll war das Geschenk (Eboli’s aria) [4:55]
Don Carlos – Du, im irdischen Wahn [10:50]
Otello – Jeder Knabe kann mein Schwert (Otello’s death) [4:47]
Aida- Tanz der Mohrensklaven; Komm, lasse Blumen dpriessen; O komm, Geliebter; Wohl war euch das Los der Waffen feindlich [14:44]
Aida - Es hat der Stein (Act IV finale) [12:05]
Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924)
La Bohème – Man nemnt mich jetzt Mimi [4:56]
La Bohème – Will ich allein des Abends [2:28]
Tosca – Und es blitzen die Sterne [3:14]
Nur der Schonheit weih’t ich mein Leben (Tosca’s death) [3:14]
CD 3
Bedrich SMETANA (1824-1884)
Bartered Bride – Komm, mein Söhnchen [6:02]
Bartered Bride – Wie fremd und tot ist alles umher [5:39]
Pyotr Ilyich TCHIAKOVSKY (1840-1893)
Pique dame – Lied der Pauline [3:48]
Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949)
Salome – Ah! Du wollst mich deinen Mund – final scene; Salome, Herodes, Herodias [17:23]
Madame Butterfly – Mädchen in deinen Augen [11:26]
Madame Butterfly – Eines Tages she’n wir [4:15]
Madame Butterfly – Schuttle alle Zweige dieses Kirschbaums [6:09]
Ruggiero LEONCAVALLO (1858-1919) Der Bajazzo –Haha, ihr scherzt wohl [2:53]
Der Bajazzo –Jetzt spielen – Hull dich in Tand nur [3:51]
Antonin DVORÁK (1841-1904)
Rusalka – Du lieber Mond [6:05]
Giuseppe VERDI
Sicilian Vespers – O Heimat, teure Heimat [8:29]
Elfride Trötschel, Christel Goltz, Gottlob Frick
Kurt Striegler, Rudolf Kempe, Joseph Keilberth
Singers; Bernd Aldenhoff, Kurt Böhme, Werner Faulhaber, Gottlob Frick, Christel Goltz, Hans Hopf, Inger Karén, Lisa Otto, Karl Paul, Heinz Sauerbaum, Arno Schellenberg, Elfride Trötschel, Elfriede Weidlich, Werner Liebling, Karl Paul, Helena Rott, Ruth Lange, Dora Zschille
Orchestras and choir; Chor der Staatsoper Dresden, Staatskapelle Dresden, RSO Leipzig, Grosses Rundfunkorchester Dresden,
Conductors; Joseph Keilberth, Gerhart Wiesenhütter, Rolf Kleinert, Hans Löwlein, Gerhard Lenssen
The Semperoper Edition is a documentary series jointly presented by Staatskapelle Dresden, MDR Figaro, Deutsches Rundfunkarchiv and Semperoper Dresden
Booklet - 240 pages in English and German, profusely illustrated; no texts or translations.
DVD includes a DEFA documentary film ‘Dresden – Aufbau im Osten’ (1946); ‘My Dresden Years’ – memories from Joseph Keilberth, Christel Goltz, Lisa Otto; ‘Cristel Goltz – privat’ (1949) plus a bonus of Elfride Trötschel singing Du lieber Mond with the Staatskapelle, Dresden/Kempe



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