Great Bass Arias
Arnold van Mill (bass), Opera Orchestra and Chorus/Robert Wagner (1–10)
Otto Edelmann (bass), Wiener Philharmoniker/Rudolf Moralt (11–14)
rec. Grossersaal, Musikverein, Vienna, Austria, 23 May 1951 (11–14); Stadtsaal, Innsbruck, Austria, 1952 (1–10)
No texts enclosed. ELOQUENCE 482 0200 [57:41]
Two magnificent basses from a couple of generations ago are brought together on this disc and the outcome is an hour of delightful arias delivered by mastersingers in their prime. Soundwise Otto Edelmann (1917–2003) is at a disadvantage. He recorded his four arias in May 1951 when recording techniques were still rather primitive. The sound is fairly distant, the frequency range narrow and the orchestra, although the Vienna Phil, rather scratchy. There is a chorus present, in the Fidelio and Barbier von Bagdad arias, and it sounds quite well but is uncredited in the booklet. I suppose it is the Vienna State Opera Chorus. Edelmann’s voice is well reproduced and we can enjoy the steadiness and the beauty. His was primarily a Rocco voice but since he had plenty of baritone notes he could also sing Pizarro and he conjures up the evil character very convincingly. His Landgrave from Tannhäuser is sonorous, his Falstaff is sung in German, but he is well inside the role and is an eminent actor. His top notes are easily delivered. Both basses sing Salamaleikum from Der Barbier von Bagdad and Edelmann is notably slower than his colleague, making the character less eager but possibly a shade more noble. Edelmann recorded several of his great roles complete in the fifties: Pogner in Meistersinger for Knappertsbusch (he also sang Hans Sachs for Kna recorded live at Bayreuth), Ochs in Rosenkavalier for Karajan, and both Count Waldner in Arabella and Wotan in act II of Die Walküre for Solti. Still, it is good to have these excerpts available again.
His somewhat younger colleague Arnold van Mill (1921–1996) was recorded a good ten years later than Edelmann and this Philips recording is technically excellent. His is an even deeper bass than Edelmann’s and he employs it with discrimination. His tone is sonorous and beautiful, his enunciation excellent and he is flexible. He is elegant too, when it suits. At times his tone is reminiscent of Kurt Moll’s–just listen to Auch ich war ein Jüngling from Der Waffenschmied. The Lortzing arias are especially good to hear. Lortzing is a composer who seems to be unfashionable at present, which I regret deeply. Van Mill's Rocco (Fidelio) is very good, the two excerpts from Der Freischütz are thrillers and in the Cornelius aria his patter-singing is impressive.
Van Mill also made some complete recordings during his heydays. He was Hunding in Knappertsbusch’s Decca recording of the first act of Die Walküre with Flagstad and Svanholm. He was Marke in Solti’s complete Tristan with Nilsson and he was Ramfis in Karajan’s Aida with Tebaldi and Bergonzi. Those who have one or more of those recordings will certainly need this disc as a complement.
Through the years there have been quite a number of good German-speaking basses and van Mill and Edelmann both belong among the elite. This issue is a valuable addition to the catalogue.
Track Listing Otto NICOLAI (1810–1849)
Die lustigen Weiber von Windsor:
1. Als Büblein klein [4:03] Albert LORTZING (1801–1851)
Zar und Zimmermann:
2. O sancta justitia! [6:29]
3. Den hohen Herrscher würdig [9:30]
4. Fünftausend Taler! [5:10]
5. Auch ich war ein Jüngling [4:57] Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770–1827)
6. Hat man nicht auch Gold beineben [2:29] Carl Maria von WEBER (1786–1826)
7. Hier im ird’schen Jammertal [2:10]
8. Schweig–damit dich niemand warnt! [3:13] Peter CORNELIUS (1824–1874)
Der Barbier von Bagdad:
9. O wüsstest du, Verehrter–bin Akademiker [1:47]
10. Heil diesem Hause–Salamaleikum! [2:01] Ludwig van BEETHOVEN
11. Ha! Welch ein Augenblick! [2:58] Richard WAGNER (1813–1883)
12. Gar viel und schön [4:45] Giuseppe VERDI (1813–1901)
13. He! Holla! Wirtschaft! [4:39] Peter CORNELIUS
Der Barbier von Bagdad:
14. Salamaleikum! [2:50]