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Fritz Wunderlich
Fritz Wunderlich (tenor)
Chor des Bayerischen Rundfunks
Münchner Rundfunkorchester/Kurt Eichhorn, Siegfried Köhler, Willy Mattes, Hans Moltkau, Meinhard von Zallinger
rec. live and studio, 1959-1965 Munich, Germany
No song texts provided
Stereo or Mono not indicated
BR KLASSIK 900314 [57:45]

Fritz Wunderlich: Die Tenor-Legende
rec. 1960-1964 Munich, Berlin, Bamberg, Mainz, Saarlouis, Germany
No song texts provided.
WARNER CLASSIC 9029 592154  [3 CDs: 73.48 + 65.59 + 58.40]

On a recent trip to Berlin for the Musikfest 2016, I found the Dussmann department store on Friedrichstraße, famous for its books and large range of music CDs and DVDs, adorned by window and aisle displays advertising Fritz Wunderlich releases to mark the 50th anniversary of the much loved tenor’s death in September. Few singers are as instantly recognizable as Wunderlich with his beautiful voice noted for its radiant, silvery tone and his talent for vocal expression marked by remarkable clarity of enunciation. This review consists of two of the releases available; a single disc on BR-Klassik and a three-CD set on Warner Classics.

Celebrated German tenor Fritz Wunderlich had barely entered his prime when in 1966 he fell down a stone stairway at a castle in Heidelberg and died only a few days shy of his 36th birthday. With mainly German repertoire the lyric tenor was renowned for his beautiful voice and matinee-idol looks and became known in some quarters as the ‘golden tenor’. Wunderlich’s untimely death ensured that he never came close to achieving his potential although he had built up a considerable personal following in the opera house and concert hall. Wunderlich was especially celebrated for his Mozartian roles and the baritone Herman Prey described his friend and colleague as “incomparable as Tamino; his Don Ottavio had the virility I so often miss in this part; his Belmonte – with the tricky Baumeister aria – was fantastically secure.” Wunderlich’s repertoire was wider than one might imagine and I notice that he had sung roles as diverse as Ruggerio (Alcina), Sextus (Giulio Ceasar), Mazal (The Excursions of Mr. Brouček), Henry (Die schweigsame Frau), Palestrina and Tiresias (Oedipus der Tyrann) also in concert Das Lied Von Der Erde.

From BR-Klassik this single disc release titled simply Fritz Wunderlich with the Münchner Rundfunkorchester comprises of previously unreleased remastered radio recordings produced between 1959 and 1965 at Munich for both the famous live Sunday concerts at Deutsches Museum and in the studio at the Haus des Sports for Bayerischer Rundfunk. As reflected on this release, at these Sunday concerts Wunderlich tended to concentrate principally on nineteenth-century and some early twentieth-century Austro/German comic opera and operetta the lighter side of his repertoire. In this collection we have sixteen songs from twelve different composers from Millöcker to Spoliansky, from Lehár to Johann Strauss II which has been assembled to a remarkably consistent high standard of performance and it’s hard to fault the sound quality. My highlight is the final track Melodia con passion, from inveterate Viennese song writer and film composer Willy Mattes, which has Wunderlich creating a dream world of carefree abandon. In the accompanying booklet no song texts are provided however there is a useful essay by Guido Johannes Joerg translated from German.

Warner Classics has issued a three disc box set titled Fritz Wunderlich Die Tenor-Legende a cross-section of remastered recordings from 1960/64 produced mainly at Munich and Berlin. The first disc sung in German consists of opera arias from eight composers ranging from Handel through Mozart and Tchaikovsky to Puccini including light operas from Lortzing and Nicolai. Here the beauty and range of Wunderlich’s voice is heard at its finest. He was noted for Mozart roles and feted for his Tamino in Die Zauberflöte and where broadening his repertoire was concerned he said he was limiting his scope to Rodolfo (La Bohème) and the Duca (Rigoletto). His colleague mezzo-soprano Brigitte Fassbaender believed he might have gone on to sing the roles of Max (Der Freischütz), Lohengrin, Parsifal and Walther (Die Meistersinger). Exceptional with notable precision of intonation is Tamino’s aria Dies Bildnis ist bezaubernd schön and also worthy of special praise is Konstanze, dich wiederzusehen from Die Entführung aus dem Serail. Sadly there are no examples here of Wunderlich singing any Weber, Wagner and Verdi.

Disc two is given over to operetta from eight composers mainly works from Lehár and Kálmán. As a lyric tenor Wunderlich was particularly well suited to operetta a field which he acknowledged finding “especially attractive.” Wunderlich enjoyed letting his voice “flow luxuriantly” and whilst always remaining stylish he was strict “not to fool around” with his voice. There is some glorious singing here. From Lehár’s Das Land des Lächelns it’s hard to imagine the wonderful Dein ist mein ganzes Herz being sung better and the qualities of drama and affection he generates in Freunde, das Leben ist licenser are remarkable too.

On the third disc there is a varied mix of concert arias and a Lieder recital spanning a wide period from Heinrich Isaac in the Renaissance period to the late-twentieth century with Fritz Neumeyer. With the advent of the early music movement in recent decades Wunderlich’s voice does sound somewhat dated in the renaissance and baroque works and not everything goes smooth in the Lieder recital of Schubert, Wolf and Richard Strauss. Wunderlich fairs considerably better with Fritz Neumeyer’s attractive Studentenlieder for tenor and strings, based on seventeenth-century texts. These Warner recordings were produced over the period 1960/64 at five locations Munich, Berlin, Bamberg, Mainz and Saarlouis. With the lack of information on CDs one and two unless otherwise stated one might assume these are stereo recordings. Overall I’m delighted with the sound quality which feels dependably clear and well balanced. In the booklet there is a helpful essay from Ingo Dorfmüller translated from German but no song texts are provided.

In the 50th anniversary year of his death both these releases display the breathtaking talents of Fritz Wunderlich a singer cruelly taken from the music world before his time.

Michael Cookson

Full Track Listing
Fritz Wunderlich - BR Klassik
Carl MILLÖCKER (1842-1899)
1. aus "Gräfin Dubarry": "Wie schön ist alles" (Lied des René) [3.56]
Hans Moltkau (conductor)
2. aus "Gräfin Dubarry": "Weg führt immer mich zu Dir zurück" (Lied des René) [3.27]
Hans Moltkau (conductor)
rec. 14 June 1962 Haus des Sports, Munich
Albert LORTZING (1801-1851)
3. aus "Zar und Zimmermann": "Leb' wohl, mein flandrisch Mädchen" [4.39]
Chor des Bayerischen Rundfunks
Kurt Eichhorn (conductor)
rec. 11 April 1965 Haus des Sports, Munich
4. aus "Undine": "Vater, Murrer, Schwestern, Bruder" (Lied des Veit) [3.11]
Meinhard von Zallinger (conductor)
5. aus "Manwird ja einmal nur gebore" (Aria des Georg) [3.35]
Hans Moltkau (conductor)
rec. 8 March 1962 Haus des Sports, Munich
Otto NICOLAI (1810-1849)
6. aus "Die lustigen Weiber von Windsor": "Horch, die Lerche singt im Hain" [5.05]
Hans Moltkau (conductor)
rec. 7 May 1962 Haus des Sports, Munich
Franz LEHÁR (1870-1948)
7. aus "Schön ist die Welt": "Schön ist die Welt" (Lied des Georg) [3.58]
Hans Moltkau (conductor)
Johann STRAUSS II (1825-1899)
8. aus "Eine Nacht in Venedig": "Treu sein, das liegt mir nicht" (Lied des Herzogs) [2.05]
Hans Moltkau (conductor)
9. aus "Eine Nacht in Venedig": "Sei mir gegrüsst, du holdes Venezia" [2.47]
Hans Moltkau (conductor)
Leo FALL (1873-1925)
10. aus "Die Rose von Stambul": "Zwei Augen, Die wollen mir nicht aus dem Sinn" (Lied des Achmed) [4.04]
Hans Moltkau (conductor)
11. aus "Die Rose von Stambul": "Oh Rose von Stambul" (Lied des Achmed) [4.02]
Hans Moltkau (conductor)
Eduard KÜNNEKE (1885-1953)
12. aus "Die Lockende Flamme": "Ich träume mit offenen augen" (Lied des Jacinto) [2.42]
Hans Moltkau (conductor)
13. aus "Die große Sünderin": "Das Lied vom Leben des Schrenk" (Lied des Schrenk) [4.29]
Hans Moltkau (conductor)
rec. 13, 14, 15 June 1962 Haus des Sports, Munich
rec. Haus des Sports, Kongresssaal des Deutschen Museums, Munich
Robert STOLZ (1880-1975)
14. aus "Ich liebe alle Frauen": "Ob blond, ob braun, ich liebe alle Frau'n" [2.30]
Siegfried Köhler (conductor)
Mischa SPOLIANSKY (1898-1985)
15. "Heute Nacht oder nie" [3.08]
Siegfried Köhler (conductor)
rec. 13 February 1966 Kongresssaal des Deutschen Museums, Munich
Willy MATTES (b. 1916)
16. "Melodia con passione" [3.47]
Willy Mattes (conductor)
rec. 5 May 1962 Haus des Sports, Munich
Münchner Rundfunkorchester
BR-KLASSIK [57:45]
Fritz Wunderlich - Die Tenor-Legende
CD 1 [73.48]
George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759)
1. Serse, HWV 40, Act I: "Ombra mai fù" [3.03]
Bayerischen Staatsorchester/Hans Müller-Kray
rec. 25, 26, 29 November 1962 Munich
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
2. Die Entführung aus dem Serail, K. 384, Act I: "Konstanze, dich wiederzusehen" [5.15]
Berliner Symphoniker/Berislav Klobučar
rec. 1 July 1960 Berlin
3. Così fan tutte, K. 588, Act I: "Der Odem der Liebe" (Un' aura amorosa) [4.26]
4. Die Zauberflöte, K. 620, Act I: "Dies Bildnis ist bezaubernd schön" [4.08]
Berliner Symphoniker/Berislav Klobučar
rec. 27/28 June 1960 Berlin
Friedrich von FLOTOW (1812-1883)
5. Die weiße Dame, Act II: "Komm', o holde Dame" [5.49]
Bayerischen Staatsorchester/Hans Müller-Kray
rec. 25, 26, 29 November 1962 Munich
François-Adrien BOIELDIEU (1775-1834)
Otto NICOLAI (1810-1849)
Friedrich von FLOTOW (1812-1883)
6. Martha, Act II: "Warte nur! Das sollst du büßen! - Mitternacht" [4.26]
7. Martha, Act III: "Ach, so fromm" [2.48]
8. Martha, Act III: "Jetzt, ihr Freunde jung und alt" [3.33]
Anneliesse Rothenberger, soprano (Lady)
Hetty Plumacher, alto (Nancy)
Gottlob Frick, bass (Plumkett)
Chor der Deutschen Oper Berlin
Berliner Symphoniker/Berislav Klobučar
rec. 15/16 June 1960 Berlin
Otto NICOLAI (1810-1849)
9. Die lustigen Weiber von Windsor, Act I: "Eure Tochert! - Meine Tochter" [5.47]
Bayerisches Staastsorchester/Robert Heger
rec. 27 February - 1 March 1963 Munich
Albert LORTZING (1801-1851)
10. Der Wildschütz, Act III: "Komm, liebes Gretchen [4.46]
Lotte Schadle, soprano (Grechen)
Fritz Ollendorff, bass (Bachus)
Orchester der Bayerischen Staastoper/Robert Heger
rec. 26-31 June 1963 Munich
Bedřich SMETANA (1824-1884)
11. Die verkaufte Braut, Act I: "Mit der Mutter sank zu Grabe" [6.48]
Pilar Lorengar, soprano (Maria)
Bamberger Symphoniker/Rudolf Kempe
rec. May, June, October 1962 Bamberg
Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)
12. Pique Dame, Op.68, Act III: "Wenn mir der Glockenschlag Gewissheit gibt" [8.11]
Melitta Muszely, soprano (Lisa)
Orchester der Bayerischen Staastoper/Meinhard von Zallinger
rec. November/December 1962 Munich
Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924)
13. La Bohème, Act I: "Lebt wohl, ihr süßen Stunden" [5.09]
Anneliesse Rothenberger, soprano (Lady)
Ruth-Margret Putz, soprano (Mussette)
Marcel Cordes, baritone (Marcel)
Berliner Symphoniker/Berislav Klobučar
rec. May 1961 Berlin
14. Madame Butterfly, Act I: "Im weiten Weltall" - "Ob's echte Liebe, möcht' ich mich fragen" [6.45]
Herman Prey, baritone (Sharpless)
Georg Baumgartner (tenor (Goro)
Berliner Symphoniker/Berislav Klobučar
rec. April 1961 Berlin
Jules MASSENET (1842-1912)
15. Manon, Act II: "Ich schloss die Augen" [2.53]
Bayerischen Staatsorchester/Hans Müller-Kray
rec. 25, 26, 29 November 1962 Munich
Stereo/Mono info not given
CD 2 [65.59]
Franz LEHÁR (1870-1948)
Der Zarewitsch:
1. Wolgalied: Act I: "Allein, wieder allein" [4.53]
2. Act III: "Mädel, wonniges Mädel" - "Komm' und mach' mich glücklich" - "Warum hat jeder Frühling, ach, nur einen Mai" [6.18]
Das Land des Lächelns:
3. Act I: Introduktion - "Ich trete ins Zimmer" - "Immer nur lächeln" [5.47]
4. Act I: "Bei einem Tee en deux" [1.49]
5. Act II: "Wer hat die Liebe uns ins Herz descent [1.56]
6. Act II: "Dein ist mein ganzes Herz" [3.50]
Melitta Muszely, soprano (Sonja, Lisa)
Symphonie-Orchester Graunke/Carl Michalski
rec. August 1963 (tracks 1 & 2); January 1964 Munich
7. Act I: "Freunde, das Leben ist lebenswert" [3.23]
Emmerich KÁLMÁN (1882-1953)
Gräfin Mariza:
8. Act I: "Wenn es Abend wird - Grüß mir mein Wien" [4.50]
9. Act I: "Auch ich war einst ein feiner Csárdáskavalier - Komm, Zigány" [4.43]
10. Die Zirkusprinzessin, Act I: "Zwei Märchenaugen" [3.26]
Bayerisches Staatsorchester/Hans Moltkau
rec. 21-23 November 1962 Munich
Leo FALL (1873-1925)
11. Die Rose von Stambul, Act II: "Sie glauben, mein Herr - das ist das Glück nach der Mode" [2.24]
Symphonie-Orchester Graunke/Carl Michalski
rec. August 1963 Munich
Carl MILLÖCKER (1842-1899)
Der Bettelstudent,
12. Act I: "Die Welt hat das genialste Streben" [1.46]
Berliner Symphoniker/Werner Schmidt-Boeicke
rec. 30 June; 1 November 1960 Berlin
Johann STRAUSS II (1825-1899)
Eine Nacht in Venedig,
13. Act III: "Ach, wie so herrlich zu schau'n" [3.48]
14. Act I: "Komm' in die Gondel" [2.56]
Rudolf Schock, tenor (Symon)
Berliner Symphoniker/Werner Schmidt-Boeicke
rec. 30 June; 1 September 1960 Berlin
Eduard KÜNNEKE (1885-1953)
Die große Sünderin
15. Act I: "Das Lied vom Leben des Schrenk” [4.17]
Bayerisches Staatsorchester/Hans Moltkau
rec. 21-23 November 1962 Munich
Adolf NEUENDORFF (1843-1897)
Der Rattenfänger von Hameln
16. Act I: "Wandern, ach wandern" [4.25]
Carl HEINS (1859-1923)
17. Zwei dunkle Augen [5.28]
FFB-Orchester/Werner Eisbrenner
rec. 21 January 1962 Berlin
Stereo/Mono info not given

CD 3 [58.40]
Heinrich ISAAC (c. 1450-1517)
1. Mein Freud allein [3.12]
Heinrich FINK (1445-1527)
2. O schönes Weib [1.58]
rec. 1961/62 Berlin
Adam KRIEGER (1634-1666)
3. Amanda, darf man dich wohl küssen [2.11]
(Aria aus "Liederbuch des Studenten Clodius")
rec. January, February 1962 Berlin
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750
Was mir behagt ist nur die muntre Jagd, BWV 208 (Jagd-Kantate):
4. "Wie, schönste Göttin? Wie?" - "Willst du dich nicht mehr ergötzen [6.17]
5. "Entzücket uns beide" [2.17]
Annelies Kupper (soprano)
Berliner Symphoniker/Karl Forster
rec. November 1961 Berlin
Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
6. Ständchen, D. 889: "Horch, horch, die Lerch' im Ätherblau" [3.55]
7. Schwanengesang, D. 957, No. 9: "Ihr Bild" (Ich stand in dunklen Träumem) [2.32]
Hugo WOLF (1860-1903)
8. Fußreise (Am frisch geschnitt'nen Wanderstab) (No. 10 from Mörike-Lieder) [2.50]
9. Nimmersatte Liebe (So ist die Lieb') (No. 9 from Mörike-Lieder) [2.17]
10. Der Musikant (Wandern lieb' ich für mein Leben) (No.2 from Eichendorff-Lieder) [1.48]
Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949)
11. Zueignung, Op. 10, No. 1 (Ja, du weißt es, liebe Seele) [1.47]
12. Heimliche Aufforderung, Op. 27, No. 3 [3.09]
13. Wie sollten wir geheim sie halten, Op. 19, No. 4 [1.42]
Rolf Reinhardt (piano)
rec. 2 November 1962 SWF-Studio, Mainz, Germany
Fritz NEUMEYER (1900-1983)
Studentenlieder (Acht Gesänge für eine Tenorstimme und Streicher):
14. "Ein Maienlob [1.40]
15. "Tanzlied" [0.57]
16. "Auf den anbrechenden Morgen" [2.25]
17. "Vergebliche Wacht" [3.11]
18. "Abendsegen" [2.34]
19. "Auf die Liebe" [1.41]
20. "Wo sind die Stunden" [2.54]
21. "Fast nach dem Holländischen" [5.24]
Kammerorchester des Saarländischen Rundfunks/Karl Ristenpart
rec. July 1962 SR-Studio, Saarlouis Germany
Stereo (tracks 1-5); Mono (tracks 6-21)



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