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Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
The Cologne Collection
Rosamunde, D. 797 complete incidental music (tr 1-10) [52:16]
11. Frühlingsglaube, D. 686 [3:10]
12. Die Forelle, D. 550 [2:08]
13. An die Nachtigall, D. 497 [1:25]
14. Gretchen am Spinnrad, D. 118 [3:19]
15. Nähe des Geliebten, D. 162 [3:28]
16. Liebhaber in allen Gestalten, D. 558 [1:17]
17. Der Hirt auf dem Felsen, D. 965 [10:50]
Anneliese Rothenberger (soprano) (trs 2, 11-17)
Chor und Sinfonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks/Robert Heger
Gerald Moore (piano) (trs 11-14)
Günther Weissenborn (piano) (trs 15-17)
rec. 2-3 April 1966, Bürgerbräukeller, Munich (trs 1-10), 16-18 July 1964 Bürgerbräukeller, Munich (trs 11-14), 6-9 November 1976, Berlin-Zehlendorf, Gemeindehaus (trs 15, 16), March 1972, Berlin-Zehlendorf, Gemeindehaus (tr 17)
No sung texts provided
WARNER CLASSICS 9605542 [78:15]

Part of the Cologne Collection, this Warner release of re-issued material features the singing of soprano Anneliese Rothenberger (1926-2010). The Cologne Collection consists of mainly opera and operetta, choral and lieder that were produced from 1952 in Cologne by Electrola – a label that had moved to the city from Berlin. Making her debut in 1943 the highly popular Mannheim-born Rothenberger was one of the most renowned German singers of the post-war period. In 1983 she retired from the operatic stage continuing to give recitals until 1989.
 
First comes the complete incidental music to Helmina von Chézy’s play Rosamunde, Fürstin von Zypern (Rosamunde, Princess of Cyprus). The play, premiered in Vienna in 1823, was lost but it was George Grove and Arthur Sullivan who rediscovered Schubert’s music forty-four years later. Excerpts are often performed in concert and over the years there have been quite a few recordings. It is played here by the Chor und Sinfonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks under Robert Heger and I don’t think it has ever been performed better. I’m not a great admirer of Rothenberger’s voice however she does nothing wrong in the second movement Romanze. The mixed choir is in fine voice sounding, fresh clear and stable and being especially engaging in Jägerchor and Hirtenchor. Gloriously flowing and joyous playing from the Bavarian players with just the right amount of heft makes this a compelling first choice.
 
The selection of seven Schubert lieder sung by Anneliese Rothenberger is a slightly different matter although still enjoyable. For my taste her bright soprano is generally too light and glassy and in one or two of the works especially the lengthy Der Hirt auf dem Felsen unsuitably girlish. There is often a sense of breathlessness and I’m frequently left wanting additional expression from her in the weightier texts. She is splendidly accompanied by both Gerald Moore on the first four tracks and Günther Weissenborn for the last three. In Der Hirt auf dem Felsen I find Weissenborn’s piano ringing on uncomfortably.
 
The original recordings were made between 38 and 50 years ago with digital re-mastering undertaken in 1992 and 1995. The engineers have done a splendid job providing clear and well balanced sound. I found the essay in the booklet notes interesting and reasonably informative but please note that sadly there are no texts provided for the vocal parts of Rosamunde or for any of the seven lieder.
 
Immense enjoyment from start to finish in Rosamunde and in spite of the unsatisfying lieder singing this reissue remains one of the standout releases in the Cologne Collection series from Warner Classics.
 
Michael Cookson
 



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