Great Singers Live - Hermann Prey
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
1. Aria: Ein Madchen oder Weibchen wunscht Papageno sich! from Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute) [3:54]
2. Recitative and Aria: Tutto e disposto … Aprite un po' quegli occhi from Le nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro), K.492 [4:07]
3. Aria: Rivolgete a lui lo sguardo from Così fan tutte (Women are like that)
K.588 [4:52]
Gioacchino ROSSINI (1792-1868)
4. Aria: Largo al factotum della citta from Il barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville) [4:43]
Albert LORTZING (1801-1851)
5. Recitative and Aria: Wie freundlich strahlt die helle Morgensonne from Der Wildschütz (The Poacher) [4:47]
Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901)
6. Aria: Di Provenza il mar from La Traviata [4:12]
7. Scene and aria: Alzati! Eri tu che macchiavi quell'anima from Un ballo in maschera (The Masked Ball) [5:42]
Charles GOUNOD (1818-1893)
8. Cavatina: Avant de quitter ces lieux from Faust [3:37]
Ruggero LEONCAVALLO (1857-1919)
9. Prologue: Si puo? Si puo? from Pagliacci [5:21]
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
10. Grosser Herr, o starker König (Great Lord and Mighty King) from Christmas Oratorio (6 Cantatas, from Christmas to Epiphany), BWV248 [4:56]
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Lieder (Song cycle): An die ferne Geliebte (To the distant beloved), Op.98 (1816):
11. a. Auf dem Hügel sitz’ ich spähend (Sit on the Hill, Gazing) [3:18]
12. b. Wo die Berge so blau (Where the blue, blue Mountains) [1:56]
13. c. Leichte Segler in den Höhen (Light Sailors of the Firmament) [1:44]
14. d. Diese Wolken in den Höhen (These Clouds on high) [1:15]
15. e. Es kehret der Maien (May returns, the meadow’s in Flower) [2:13]
16. f. Nimm sie hin denn, diese Lieder (Accept them, then, these Songs) [4:54]
Irving BERLIN (1888-1989)
17. They Say that falling in love is wonderful from the musical Annie Get Your Gun (1946) [3:05]
Hermann Prey (baritone)
Münchner Rundfunkorchester (Munich Radio Orchestra)/Argeo Quadri (Tracks 1, 4, 5, 8); Heinz Wallberg (Tracks 2, 7, 9); Heinz Fricke (Tracks 3, 6); Kurt Eichhorn (Track 10); Roberto Abbado (Track 17)
Piano: Wolfgang Sawallisch (Tracks 11-16)
rec. live: 10 Feb 1966 (Tracks 1, 4 ,5), 16 Jan 1977 (Tracks 2, 7, 9), 1 Dec 1966 (Tracks 3, 6), 1 Sept 1972 (Track 8), 17 Dec 1972 (Track 10) Congress Hall, Deutsches Museum, Munich; 10 Jan 1988 (Track 11-16) Prince Regent Theatre, Munich; 29 July 1992 (Track 17 ) Hercules Hall, Residenz, Munich.
No texts provided
BR KLASSIK 900307 [64:46]

Titled ‘Great Singers Live’ this series of CDs showcases an international cast who appeared as guests at the Munich Sunday Concerts and is proving a great success. The brainchild of Alfred Schröter head of light classics at Bavarian Broadcasting these live radio concerts began in 1952 using the Munich Radio Orchestra. This particular collection, sung by baritone Hermann Prey, consists of previously unreleased material.
A lyric baritone, Hermann Prey (1929-1998) was born and studied in Berlin. As a young man he lived through the Russian assault on Berlin in 1945 part of the time hiding with his family in a cellar with only tinned food to eat. Prey is probably best known for his light comic roles in opera and in the lieder recitals that launched his career in 1959. I generally associate Prey with Figaro, the Barber of Seville in the Rossini opera and in Mozart operas, Figaro, Guglielmo and especially Papageno the ridiculous feather-suited bird-catcher in The Magic Flute. In lieder Prey enjoyed programmes of Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann, Mahler and Richard Strauss also championing the German art-songs of Carl Loewe. Prey sang at Bayreuth making his debut in 1965 as Wolfram. In 1981 he was there again as Beckmesser. He died suddenly in Munich the city that he had made his home aged 69 having sung at the Prince Regent Theatre only four days before. 

For this BR Klassik release Prey demonstrates his versatility with a selection of songs that range from Bach to Verdi, from Mozart to Berlin and from Lieder to Broadway musicals. There is nothing progressive or difficult in the programme which probably reflects Prey as a sensitive singer who loved melody and traditional classical and romantic music. The opening song Ein Madchen oder Weibchen wunscht Papageno sich! (A girl or a little wife wishes Papageno) is from The Magic Flute. Immediately Prey’s golden baritone is evident together with his expressive powers and impressive diction. From The Barber of Seville Prey’s Figaro’s cavatina Largo al factotum della città (Make way for the factotum of the city), a staple of the repertoire, is exciting and, given its difficulty, extremely well controlled. Valentin’s wonderful cavatina Avant de quitter ces lieu (Before leaving this place) from Gounod’s Faust is full of melody and is sung with real assurance. Toni’s prologue the popular Si puo? Si puo? Signore! Signori! (May I? May I? Ladies! Gentlemen!) from Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci is dramatic and masterly.
Prey is accompanied in An die ferne Geliebte by Munich-born accompanist Wolfgang Sawallisch; far better known as a conductor. I enjoyed Prey’s interpretation and he sounds wonderfully at home despite the cycle’s contrasting demands. Especially enjoyable is Prey’s poignant Auf dem Hügel sitz ich spähend (Sit on the Hill, Gazing) and the rapt sense of joy he delivers in Es kehret der Maien, es blühet die Au (May returns, the meadow’s in Flower).
It is fascinating to hear Prey sing something different. The final track ‘They say that falling in love is wonderful’ from Irving Berlin’s musical Annie Get Your Gun is certainly that. As I expected, Prey sings well but he doesn’t feel particularly at home as Frank the star of the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show. It all seems rather too buttoned-up.
The Munich Radio Orchestra, who celebrated their 60th anniversary in the 2011/12 season, provides wholehearted support. They play with total assurance.
The sound quality delivered by Bavarian Broadcasting from the various Munich venues is first class. Sadly the omission of the sung texts has reduced the value of the series.
This BR Klassik ‘Great Singers Live’ series often introduces us to remarkable performances from a host of distinguished singers. Prey is in outstanding voice. This is a disc that I will often return to.  

Michael Cookson 

This is a disc that I will often return to.