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This new album released on the Profil label features the art of Ruth-Margret Pütz, a German soprano of the post-war era, whose name I know more by reputation than by actual recordings.
Pütz was born Margret Doerkens in 1930 in the city of Krefeld near Düsseldorf. From a non-musical family and basically untrained, the teenage Fräulein Margret Doerkens successfully auditioned as a junior ensemble member at Oper Köln, taking her first role in 1949 as the Page in Rigoletto. In 1951 she married assistant rehearsal pianist Johannes Pütz and changed her name to Ruth-Margret Pütz. The same year the soprano was given a contract by Staatsoper Hannover, where she initially sang soubrette roles such as Blonde (Die Entführung aus dem Serail), Marzelline (Fidelio) and Adele (Die Fledermaus). More challenging lyric soprano roles followed, including Susanna, (Le nozze di Figaro) and Sophie (Der Rosenkavalier).
An artist of significant stature, Pütz’s artistry prominently graced Austro/German opera houses and festivals including Salzburg, Glyndebourne and Bayreuth until her retirement in 1995. During her career she won the approbation of several renowned conductors, notably Ferdinand Leitner, Carlos Kleiber, Tullio Serafin, Carlo Maria Giulini and Herbert von Karajan and in the concert hall Sergiu Celibidache. Celebrated recordings from Pütz include her roles as Frau Fluth (Die Lustigen Weiber von Windsor) on EMI; Constanze (Die Entführung aus dem Serail) on Myto and Rosina (Der Barbier von Sevilla) on EMI. It seems that Pütz is enjoying her retirement in Stuttgart.
There are eight tracks on the album, comprising of a single aria each from Rigoletto, Don Pasquale, Die lustigen Weiber von Windsor, Ariadne auf Naxos, three from Die Entführung aus dem Serail plus a single Mozart concert aria, K416. All the arias, even those by Verdi and Donizetti are, as was the convention of the time, sung in German bar the Italian text of the Mozart concert aria. The collection consists of previously released material from, I think, three albums, except for the final track, an aria from Ariadne auf Naxos which is being released for the first time. I notice that the first four tracks are taken from her Columbia L.P., yet omitting the German sung, Puccini aria ‘Will Ich Allein Des Abends In Paris Mich Ergehn’ from La Bohème.
In truth, I find the voice of Ruth-Margret Pütz quite stunning in these performances recorded in the early sixties: her prime years. Right from the opening aria, Gilda’s ‘Gualtier Maldé!’ from Rigoletto, Pütz’s attractive fluid delivery is impressive and in her top register the bright ringing tone of highest notes is remarkable and it never begins to sound shrill. The final track, a live performance of Zerbinetta’s aria ‘Großmächtige Prinzessin, wer verstünde nicht’ from Ariadne auf Naxos is another fine example of Pütz’s extraordinary projection of her brilliant high notes, which display virtually no evidence of strain. From a favourite opera of mine, Die Entführung aus dem Serail the two Konstanze arias ‘Welcher Kummer herrscht... Traurigkeit ward mir zum Lose’ and ‘Martern aller Arten’, both recorded live, Pütz displays her ability to communicate a wide range of emotion and especially noticeable is the tender expressive quality she conveys. Pütz’s diction is intelligible over her entire vocal range and I also enjoy her agreeable coloratura technique. The soprano benefits from satisfying orchestral accompaniment which adds to the success of this collection.
The splendid remastered sound is outstanding especially for fifty-year-old recordings. Three of the arias that were recorded in live performance have applause left in at their conclusion. As one might expect for live recordings occasionally there is slight unevenness as the singer moves from the microphones and some minor stage noise too but nothing to worry about. Written by Lothar Brandt the booklet notes are particularly helpful for additional biographic details. Disappointingly there are no sung texts and English translations. An ideal way to get to know the vocal artistry of German soprano Ruth-Margret Pütz I enjoyed every single minute of this Profil collection.
Michael Cookson Contents Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901)
1. Rigoletto: ‘Gualtier Maldé! - Teurer Name’, (Sung in German) [06:41] Gaetano DONIZETTI (1797-1848)
2. Don Pasquale: ‘Ach, unter allen Blicken - Auch ich versteh' die feine Kunst’, (Sung in German) [05:16] Otto NICOLAI (1810-1849)
3. Die lustigen Weiber von Windsor: ‘Nun eilt herbei, Witz, heitre Laune’, [06:02] Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
4. Concert Aria: ‘Mia speranza adorata... Ah, non sai qual pena’, K416 [08:36] Die Entführung aus dem Serail, K384:
5. ‘Welcher Kummer herrscht... Traurigkeit ward mir zum Lose’, (Live) [09:23]
6. ‘Martern aller Arten’ (Live) [08:38]
7. ‘Ach, Belmonte! Ach, mein Leben!’ [11:03] Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949)
8. Ariadne auf Naxos, Op. 60: ‘Großmächtige Prinzessin, wer verstünde nicht’, (Live) [11:37]
Ruth-Margret Pütz (soprano), with:
1. Marcel Cordes (Borsa), Leopold Clam (Ceprano), Karl-Ernst Mercker (Marullo),
Männerchor Der Städtischen Oper Berlin
Berliner Symphoniker / Berislav Klobučar
2 - 4. Berliner Symphoniker / Berislav Klobučar
5. 6. Mozarteum-Orchester / István Kertész
7. Josef Traxel (Belmonte), Gerhard Unger (Pedrillo), Lieselotte Becker-Egner (Blonde)
7. 8. Orchester der Württembergischen Staatsoper/ Ferdinand Leitner
1 - 4. 1962 Berlin
5. 6. Live 4 August 1961 Residenz, Salzburg
7. circa 1962 Stuttgart
8. Kleines Haus, Live 6 October 1962 Württ. Staatstheater, Stuttgart
(CD Première: tracks 1-4, 7-8)
(Première recording: track 8)