Elisabeth Grümmer (soprano)
Stuttgarter Kammerorchester/Karl Münchinger
Arthur Grumiaux (violin : Mozart K490)
Hugo Diez (piano)
rec. live, July 8, 1956, Ludwigsburg, Schloss, Ordenssaal *; May 30, 1958, Schwetzinger Schloss, Schwetzingen Festival, Germany
SWR MUSIC SWR19415CD [67:58]
Of the post-war sopranos who specialized in Mozart and Richard Strauss, the German lyric soprano Elisabeth Grümmer can be bracketed along with Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Irmgard Seefried, Sena Jurinac, Lisa Della Casa and Ljuba Welitsch. In Mozart, her 1954 Salzburg Don Giovanni with Wilhelm Furtwängler and 1961 Idomeneo have been widely lauded.
She was born in Alsace-Lorraine in 1911 and grew up in Meiningen. She initially trained as an actress. She later took singing lessons and, whilst her husband was concertmaster at Aachen, she was talent spotted by the young conductor there, one Herbert von Karajan. He enlisted her as a flower maiden in the 1940 production of Parsifal; it was to be her operatic debut. A large part of Grümmer’s career was centred in Berlin. She died in 1986. She was a fine lieder singer and gave many recitals throughout her career, yet this genre isn’t substantially represented in her discography. In fact, her recorded legacy isn’t that extensive, so these radio recordings, which are most welcome, add some bulk. Several years ago, I reviewed a CD of her singing lieder and operatic arias by Mozart on the BR Klassik label, which I would also highly recommend.
This is a reissue of a disc originally released in 2009 on Hänssler Classic (94209). It has now been repackaged with different artwork. The two concerts have been mined from the SWR Archive and are of particular interest as they feature, not only a selection of the familiar, but also some less well-known songs. The two rare Mozart arias derive from a concert given at the Ludwigsburg Palace on 8 July 1956. The orchestra is the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra, under the direction of Karl Münchinger. In the first, ‘Non temer, amato bene’ for soprano, violin and orchestra K.490, written for a private performance of Idomeneo in 1786, she is joined by Arthur Grumiaux. Grümmer lovingly contours the melody, whilst Grumiaux weaves the demanding violin solo around the seductive line. The balance struck between the two soloists couldn’t be bettered. This is followed by ‘Basta Vicesti...Ah non lasciarmi’ for soprano and orchestra K. 295a (486a), delivered with heart-warming simplicity and tonal purity.
With the exception of ‘Im Frühlingsanfang’ K.597, the other three Mozart songs are also found on the BR Klassik disc, this time with pianist Hans Altmann. The recitals are roughly contemporaneous. Though interpretively very similar, I was amazed how alike they also are sound-wise, which is reasonably good. The lieder recital on this new release was taped on 30 May 1958 at the Schwetzingen Festival. Although Grümmer was, by this time, well into her forties, her vocal gifts are undiminished. The voice still retains its radiance and bloom and is technically reliable. Fast forward another five years and some vocal deterioration was to set in with an accompanying hardening of timbre. We are fortunately spared that here. Grümmer basks in the radiant lyricism of ‘Abendempfindung’ K. 523, and brings plenty of character to ‘Das Veilchen’ K. 476.
The glowing innocence of Schubert’s ‘Wiegenlied’ D 867 is suitably hypnotic. The breathless exuberance of Grümmer’s ‘Rastlose Liebe’ has an arresting potency. Two of the Brahms songs I hadn’t heard before. ‘Von waldbegränzter Höhe’ Op. 57 No. 1 is imbued with ardent passion. ‘Geheimnis’ Op. 71 No. 3 is the only song in the recital where I thought slight vocal strain crept into the higher reaches. The recital ends with five songs from Hugo Wolf’s Spanish Songbook. ‘Sie blasen zum Abmarsch’ (No. 28) is kept light, airy and bouyant. Grümmer conveys a langorous feel to ‘Bedeckt mich mit Blumen’ (No. 26), and there’s a vivid freshness in the subtle nuances she brings to ‘In dem Schatten meiner Locken’ (No. 2).
Unfortunately, no texts are included.
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
1. Non temer, amato bene Szene for Soprano, Violin & Orchestra KV 490 [7:17]*
2. Basta Vicesti...Ah non lasciarmi, no Rezitativ und Arie for Soprano & Orchestra KV 295a (486a) [6:50]*
3. Im Frühlingsanfang KV 597 [2:28]
4. Abendempfindung KV 523 [5:24]
5. Die Verschweigung KV 518 [3:03]
6. Das Veilchen KV 476[2:26]
Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
7. Suleika II D 717 [4:32]
8. Daß sie hier gewesen ist D 775 [3:34]
9. Rastlose Liebe D 138 [1:24]
10. Wiegenlied D 867 [5:13]
11. Frühlingsglaube D 686 [2:54]
Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)
12. An eine Äolsharfe Op. 19 No. 5 [4:02]
13. Von waldbegränzter Höhe Op. 57 No. 1 [2:26]
14. Geheimnis Op. 71 No. 3 [2:00]
15. Das Mädchen Op. 95 No. 1 [2:30]
Hugo WOLF (1860-1903)
16. Sie blasen zum Abmarsch (No. 28) [2:28]
17. Liebe mir im Busen zündet (No. 17) [1:12]
18. Mögen alle bösen Zungen (No. 13) [1:53]
19. Bedeckt mich mit Blumen (No. 26) [3:28]
20. In dem Schatten meiner Locken (No. 2) [2:14]