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Fritz Wunderlich (tenor)
Chor des Bayerischen Rundfunks & Münchner Rundfunkorchester, Kurt Eichhorn, Siegfried Köhler, Willy Mattes, Hans Moltkau & Meinhard von Zallinger
rec. various venues, Munich, 1959-1966. Mono
BR KLASSIK 900315 LP [45.49]

This album consists of previously unreleased material from the archives of Bayerischer Rundfunk. It is not stated as such but all the tracks sound like mono recordings, proved by the fact that it all apparently emanated from my front-centre speaker which was, of course, not even turned on or indeed connected! Though the back of the sleeve uses the subtitle 'Great Singers Live' it seems doubtful if many of these were live. Obviously Wunderlich, as a highly successful tenor, made many concert appearances singing this material, some of which was for films as well as for the stage. The whole LP falls firmly into the category which one has to describe as 'very good if you like this sort of thing.' Had the 'Three Tenors' been a 1960s phenomenon then Wunderlich would have been present for he has all the panache and sheer heft to wow the audiences. His mostly accurate high notes vary from impressive to breathtaking. The quality of his voice was truly magnificent and it does help to have this rather lightweight material sung as well as this. The problem that is bound to lurk behind the disc is that one is listening to the same sort of thing throughout nearly 46 minutes. Listening to the two sides on separate occasions might keep it all sounding fresher.

The gatefold sleeve prints, in German and English, a short appreciation of Wunderlich's career. It was cut short by an accident in 1966 when he was not quite 36 years old. His discography reflects a very wide range of repertoire covering all the genres from solo lieder to opera to oratorio. My personal favourite is Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde where he joined Christa Ludwig and Otto Klemperer to make, perhaps, the best recording of the stereo era of that masterwork. Here he is strictly in popular mode singing tuneful extracts, mostly from operetta. Singing of this quality is always a pleasure, however much one might wish for more meat on the bone.

The LP has been produced with extremely quiet surfaces and was hyperclean when I opened the sleeve. Static soon coated it with dust particles proving that BR-Klassik did not pack it in an anti-static sleeve. A few minutes cleaning and a new inner-sleeve soon solved that problem. The heavy, (180 grams+ on my kitchen scales) and very flat pressing is well centred, if not absolutely perfect and it will certainly satisfy the vinyl collector. The mono masters from which this issue was made reproduce the voice cleanly but the orchestra is always rather backward and sounds frankly a bit primitive compared to the excellent stereo sound being produced at this time by such as EMI, Decca and Deutsche Grammophon.

Dave Billinge

Disc contents

Leo FALL (1873-1925)
O Rose von Stambul (from Die Rose von Stambul) [4.02]
Eduard KÜNNEKE (1885-1953)
Ich träume mit offenen Augen (from Die lockende Flamme) [2.42]
Das Lied vom Leben des Schrenk (from Die Grosse Sünderin) [4.29]
Franz, LEHÁR (1870-1948)
Schön ist die Welt (from Schön ist die Welt) [3.58]
Albert LORTZING (1801-1851)
Lebe wohl, mein flandrisch Mädchen (from Zar und Zimmermann) [4.59]
Lied des Veit: Vater, Mutter, Schestern, Bruder (from Undine) [3.11]
Man wird ja einmal nur geboren (from Der Waffenschmied) 3.35]
Willy MATTES (1916-2002)
Melodia con passione [3.47]
Carl MILLÖCKER (1842-1899)
Wie schon ist alles (from Die Dubarry) [3.56]
Mein Weg führt immer mich zu Dir zurück (from Die Dubarry) [3.27]
Mischa SPOLIANSKY (1898-1985)
Heute Nacht oder nie (from Das Lied einer Nacht) [3.08]
Robert STOLZ (1880-1975)
Ob blond, ob braun, Ich liebe die Frau'n [2.30]
Johann STRAUSS II (1825-1899)
Treu sein, das liegt mir nicht (from Eine Nacht in Venedig) [2.05]



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