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Gottlob Frick (bass)
Portrait ‘Der schwärzeste Bass’ (The Blackest Bass)
rec. 1949-64 various locations (mono/stereo)
No sung texts
PROFIL PH18047 [4 CDs: 246.27]

Gottlob Frick (1906-94) the much-admired German bass who gave remarkable performances for several decades is the subject of the latest release of the Hänssler Profil label’s ‘Portrait’ series. Released to mark the twenty-fifth anniversary of Frick’s death the set comprises of three areas of specialisation of the great bass. Included is a bonus disc containing a first recording of a duet with Fritz Wunderlich, discovered during the preparation of the set.

Eminent conductor Wilhelm Furtwängler gave Frick the nickname ‘the blackest bass’ following his Caspar in his final Salzburg Freischütz. Famously Frick sang his roles almost exclusively in German as he does here on this set the single exception being the Commendatore aria from Don Giovanni (CD 1, track 7) sung in Italian.

The son of a forester, Frick started out as a village choir boy and gradually progressed to appearing at the world’s greatest opera houses including Bayreuth festival, Bayerische Staatsoper Munich, Staatsoper Dresden, Staatsoper Berlin, Wiener Staatsoper, Salzburg festival, La Scala Milan, Covent Garden and New York Met. In 1927 the young Frick began his state career and joined the Stuttgart Opera Chorus and most importantly joined the Staatsoper Dresden where he worked for almost a decade (1941-50). It was at Dresden where he honed his major roles of the repertory including Mozart’s Commendatore, Osmin and Sarastro, Beethoven’s Rocco and Verdi’s King Philip. It is for his Wagner roles that Frick is best remembered and I notably recall his valuable contribution to Solti’s Ring cycle singing Hunding and Hagen. Frick achieved an impressive workload in his fifty-eight year career, according to the notes notching up over ‘five hundred performances at Wiener Staatsoper alone’. In 1970 Frick retired from regular stage work, although he recorded Gurnemanz in Solti’s Parsifal in 1972, giving occasional guest performances until 1985.

The opening CD of the set is titled ‘Mozart, Rossini and German Comic Opera’ and all the tracks here are in mono. Included are extracts of Frick from his roles as Mozart’s Osmin, Bartolo, Commendatore (Italian), Sarastro; Rossini Basilio and Lortzing’s Baculus and Van Bett. Frick is in particularly marvellous form in the six extracts from Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Die Hochzeit des Figaro and Die Zauberflöte demonstrating to remarkable effect his rich, cavernous tone, black as pitch, with his unfailing characterful portrayals. The more I hear him the more I acknowledge Frick’s talent for comic roles. On this comic opera themed first disc Brogni’s aria from Halévy’s French Grand opera La Juive is certainly out of place. I’m so used to hearing Brogni’s aria in its French libretto that despite excellent singing here it doesn’t quite work for me in German.

Titled ‘Great Character Roles’ the second CD in mono and stereo comprises of Wagner’s Pogner, Hagen, Daland; Verdi’s King Philip, Procida and Fiesco, and Tchaikovsky’s Gremin.
Throughout, Frick’s Wagner arias from Die Meistersinger, Götterdämmerung, Der fliegende Holländer are uniformly superb displaying rock solid control combined with his aptitude for broad expression, all adding to his impressive overall characterisation. On the previous disc the single aria sung in German from Halévy’s La Juive didn’t work for me but the nine Italian language arias from Verdi masterworks I vespri siciliani, Simon Boccanegra and Don Carlo, and the Russian language Prince Gremin’s aria from Eugen Onegin all sung in German sound glorious, with Frick showing empathy with the sense of expression.

Rather a mixed bag, the third CD also in mono and stereo contains ‘Oratorios & Folk Songs’ and is a delight with Frick in inspiring form. Most notable are Frick’s excerpts from Haydn’s Die Schöpfung and Die Jahreszeiten with such crystal-clear diction and songs of a lighter character from Stolz, Lowe and Schubert. Especially enjoyable is Frick’s buoyant and cheerful rendition of Stolz’s appealing folk songs Auf der Heide blüh’n die letzten Rosen and Vor meinem Vaterhaus steht eine Linde.

At just over ten minutes the fourth CD has a very short timing, but it contains the première release of an encore work, recently uncovered in the archive of the Gottlob Frick Society at
Ölbronn-Dürrn. It’s a duet between Frick and Fritz Wunderlich from Smetana’s opera The Bartered Bride with piano accompaniment which was found on a private tape recorded live in 1964 from a concert at Ölbronn given to mark the centenary of the Liederkranz choral society. Sung in a German translation it’s a reasonably enjoyable performance but not an essential one. I notice that in 1961 Frick and Wunderlich released a recording of the complete opera under Rudolf Kempe for HMV, later reissued on EMI/Warner.

Recorded at various locations these mainly Decca and EMI recordings were produced over the period 1949-64, a mix of live and studio, some mono and some stereo. Remastered by Holger Siedler of THS Studio Dormagan I have no problem with the sound quality of the recordings which comes across extremely well considering their relative age.

A dozen or so of the recordings are stated as being CD premières. My collection includes a number of Frick recordings: Don Giovanni under Giulini (EMI), Die Entführung aus dem Serail under Beecham (CFP), Daphne under Kempe and Fidelio under Keilberth (Profil), Ring cycle under Solti on Decca, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Lohengrin under Kempe and Tannhäuser under Konwitschny (EMI). Available on Testament and Membran/Documents are two most conspicuous Frick compilations but they are not in my collection so I’m unsure of the level of duplication with this Hänssler Profil set. Contained below is a copy of the listing information given in the actual booklet. Ingo Kardos has written an informative essay which provides basic information for each disc together with a short biography of Frick and there are a number of miniature photos of the protagonist in costume.

Gottlob Frick ‘the blackest bass’ is shown in remarkable form. I enjoyed this set from start to finish and it becomes a valuable addition to my collection.

Michael Cookson

CD 1 Mozart, Rossini and German Comic Opera [Mono: 79.04]
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)
Die Entführung aus dem Serail
1. Wer ein Liebchen hat gefunden (Osmin, 1. Akt) [2.25]
Electrola EH 1443/2RA 7217
2. O, wie will ich triumphieren (Osmin, 3. Akt) [2.25]
Electrola E 80001/2XRA 106
Die Hochzeit des Figaro/Le nozze di Figaro
3. Süße Rache, ja, süße Rache/La vendetta, oh, la vendetta (Bartolo, 1. Akt) [2.47] Electrola DB 11563/2RA 7264
Die Zauberflöte
4. O Isis und Osiris (Sarastro, Chor, 2. Akt) [3.23]
Electrola DB 11567/2RA 7276
5. In diesen heil’gen Hallen (Sarastro, 2. Akt) [4.45]
Electrola DB 11567/2RA 7275
6. Die Strahlen der Sonne (Sarastro, Chor, 2. Akt) [2.56]
Electrola E 80830/2XRA 312
Don Giovanni
7. Don Giovanni, a cenar teco m’invitasti/Don Giovanni, du hast zum Nachtmahl mich geladen (Commendatore, Giovanni, Leporello, Coro, 2. Akt) [7.43]
Gioachino Rossini (1792-1868)
Der Barbier von Sevilla/Il barbiere di Siviglia
8. Die Verleumdung, sie ist ein Lüftchen/ La calunnia è un venticello (Basilio, 1. Akt) [4.14] Electrola DB 11563/2RA 7263
9. Einen Doktor meinesgleichen/A un dottor della mia sorte (Bartolo, 1. Akt) [5.41] Electrola E 40029/7TRA 184
Albert Lortzing (1801-1851)
Der Wildschütz
10. Fünftausend Taler (Baculus, 2. Akt) [5.04]
Electrola E 40029/7TRA 183
Zar und Zimmermann
11. O sancta justizia, ich möchte rasen (van Bett, 1. Akt) [6.39]
Electrola EH 1445/2RA 7228/29
12. Den hohen Herrscher würdig zu empfangen – Heil sei dem Tag (van Bett, Chor, 3. Akt) [8.15]
Electrola EH 1456/2RA 7632/33
Otto Nicolai (1810 – 1849)
Die lustigen Weiber von Windsor
13. Als Büblein klein an der Mutter Brust (Falstaff, Chor, 2. Akt) [4.23]
Electrola EH 1444/2RA 7214
Peter Cornelius (1824-1874)
Der Barbier von Bagdad
14. Ergreift den Alten – Heil diesem Haus, denn du tratst sein, Salam aleikum (Kalif, Abul Hassan, Chor, 3. Akt) [3.55]
Electrola DA 5533/ORA 7766
Jacques Fromentel Halévy (1799-1862)
Die Jüdin/La Juive
15. Wenn ew’ger Hass/Si la rigueur (Brogni, 1. Akt) [4.10]
Electrola DB 11566/2RA 7268
Carl Orff (1895-1982)
Die Kluge
16. O hätt‘ich meiner Tochter nur geglaubt (Der Bauer, 1. Szene) [4.15]
Deutsche Grammophon 68151/2668 – 1/2
Werner Egk (1901-1983)
Die Zaubergeige
17. Ach, lieber Herr gebt mir um Gotteslohn (Cuperus, Kaspar, 1. Akt) [2.36]
Deutsche Grammophon 19062 A
Hans-Hendrik Wehding (1915-1975)
18. Ich bin der Henker, ich habe ein Schwert (Lied des Henkers) [3.14]
Band des DRA
Gottlob Frick (Baß)
7. Cesare Siepi, Baß (Don Giovanni); Fernando Corena, Baß (Leporello);
13. Ernst Krukowsky, Bariton (Kalif);
17. Marcel Cordes, Bariton (Kaspar);
4. 6. 12-14. Chor der Deutschen Oper Berlin
1-6. 8-11. 13-14. Berliner Symphoniker;
1-4. 6. 8-13. 15. Wilhelm Schüchter
5. Arthur Grüber
7. Wiener Philharmoniker & Chor der Wiener Staatsoper / Dimitri Mitropoulos;
14. Berliner Philharmoniker & Chor der Deutschen Oper Berlin / Otto Matzerath;
16. Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden / Kurt Striegler
17. Orchester der Bayerischen Staatsoper / Werner Egk
18. Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden / Hans-Hendrik Wehding
Recorded: 1949 ‘live’ [18]; 1944 [16]; IX./1953 [1], [2], [11], [13]; 1954 [17]; III./1954 [3] – [5], [8], [15]; IV./1955 [12]; VII./1956 [14];
VII./1956 ‘live’ Salzburger Festspiele [7]; II./1957 [9] & [10]; XI./1959 [6]
[6], [11] & [12] CD-Premieren
CD 2 Great Character Roles [Mono / Stereo*: 78.00]
Richard Wagner (1813-1883)
Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
1. Das schöne Fest, Johannistag (Pogner, Vogelgesang, Sachs, Kothner, Beckmesser u.a., Chor, 1. Aufzug) [6.24]
Electrola E 90 008/2XRA 190
2. Hier sitz’ ich zur Wacht (Hagen, 1. Aufzug) [4.22]
3. Hoiho! – Ihr Gibichsmannen, machet euch auf! (Hagen, Chor, 2. Aufzug) [10.09]
[2] & [3] Electrola STE 80469/2YRA 1568
Der fliegende Holländer*
4. Mögst du, mein Kind, den fremden Mann willkommen heißen! (Daland, 2. Aufzug) [6.29] Electrola SME 91057/2YRA 165
Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901)
Don Carlos/Don Carlo*
Vierter Akt, 1. Bild/ Atto quarto, parte prima – Complete [35’11]
Philipp II (Filippo II) - Gottlob Frick (Baß)
Rodrigo, Marquis von Posa (Rodrigo, Marchese di Posa) - Marcel Cordes (Bariton)
Der Großinquisitor (Il Grande Inquisitore) - Kurt Böhme (Baß)
Elisabeth von Valois (Elisabetta di Valois) - Hildegard Hillebrecht (Sopran)
Prinzessin Eboli (La Principessa Eboli) - Hertha Töpper (Alt)
Graf von Lerma (Il Conte di Lerma) - Karl-Ernst Mercker (Tenor)
Berliner Symphoniker / Horst Stein
(aufgenommen/recorded: 1963 in Berlin)
EURODISC 86811/S3A 1065 A/B
5. Sie hat mich nie geliebt/ Ella giammai m’amò (Philipp) [8.32]
6. Der Großinquisitor!/ Il grande Inquisitor! (Lerma, Inquisitor, Philipp) [3.47]
7. Noch ward Spanien nie durch Ketzerei entweiht/ Nell’ispano suol mai l’eresia dominò (Inquisitor, Philipp) [5.33]
8. Zu Hilfe! O helft mir, Sire!/ Giustizia, giustizia, Sire! (Elisabeth, Philipp, Eboli, Rodrigo) [4.29]
9. Verflucht sei der Argwohn!/ Ah! si maledetto (Philipp, Eboli, Rodrigo, Elisabeth) [4.27]
10. O hört! Erbarmt Euch meiner und hört mein Geständnis!/ Pietà! Perdon! Per la rea che si pente! (Eboli, Elisabeth) [3.18]
11. Ah! Nie werde ich meine Königin wiedersehen! – Verhängnisvoll war das Geschenk/ Ah! Più non vedrò la Regina! – O don fatale, o don crudel (Eboli) [5.00]
Die Sizilianische Vesper/I Vespri Siciliani
12. O Heimat – O mein Palermo/O patria – O tu, Palermo (Procida, 2. Akt) [5.50]
Electrola E 30112/7XRA 679
Simon Boccanegra
13. Leb’ wohl, leb’ wohl auf ewig, Palast der Väter/A te l’estremo addio, palagio altero (Fiesco, Prolog) [4.03]
Electrola E 30112/7XRA 678
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840 – 1893)
Eugen Onegin/Evgenij Onegin
14. Ein jeder kennt die Lieb’ auf Erden/ Ljubvi vse vozrasty pokomy (Gremin, 3. Akt) [5.22] Electrola DB 11566/2RA 7267
Gottlob Frick (Baß)
[1] Horst Wilhelm, Bariton (Kunz Vogelgesang); Ferdinand Frantz, Bariton (Hans Sachs); Gustav Neidlinger, Baß-Bariton (Fritz Kothner); Benno Kusche, Bariton (Sixtus Beckmesser); Chöre der Deutschen Oper Berlin & der Deutschen Staatsoper Berlin
Chor der St. Hedwigs-Kathedrale, Berlin
Berliner Philharmoniker / Rudolf Kempe
[2]–[4] Chor [3] und Orchester der Deutschen Staatsoper Berlin / Franz Konwitschny
[12] & [13] Berliner Philharmoniker & Chor [13] der Deutschen Oper Berlin / Otto Matzerath [14] Berliner Symphoniker / Wilhelm Schüchter
aufgenommen/recorded: III./1954 [14]; IV. 1956 [1]; VII./1956 [12] & [13]; III./1959 [2] & [3]; II./1960 [4]
Tr. [5] – [11] CD-Premieren

CD 3 Oratorios & Folk Songs [Mono / Stereo*79.11]
Joseph Haydn (1732-1809)
Die Schöpfung*
1. Nun scheint im vollen Glanze (Nr. 22: Arie des Raphael) [4.22]
Electrola STE 80580/2YRA 1646
Die Jahreszeiten
2. Schon eilet froh der Ackermann (Nr. 4: Arie des Simon) [4.42]
Electrola E 40027/7TRA 186
Conradin Kreutzer (1780-1849)
3. Das ist der Tag des Herrn (Schäfers Sonntagslied) [3.05]
Franz Abt (1819-1885)
4. Waldandacht (Frühmorgens, wenn die Hähne kräh’n) [4.36]
Victor Ernst Nessler (1841-1890)
5. Abschied hat der Tag genommen [5.03]
[3] – [5]: Electrola E 60034/OXRA 501
Friedrich Zelter (1758-1832)
6. Es war ein König in Thule [4.21]
Carl Michael Ziehrer (1843-1922)
Das Dumme Herz
7. Das Herz ist nur ein Uhrwerk [6.35]
Josef Gotzen (1875-1956)
8. Auf dem Iselberge steh‘ich [4.31]
[6] - [8]: Electrola E 60034/OXRA 500
Rudolf Simon
9. In der Waldschenke (Wo lind des Waldes Lüfte weh’n) [3.34]
Electrola EG 7735/ORA 6910-2
Jägers Liebeslied (Volksweise aus Siebenbürgen 1843)
10. Ich schieß' den Hirsch [2.51]
Electrola E 40963/7TRA 693
Robert Stolz (1880-1975)
11. Auf der Heide blüh’n die letzten Rosen* [3.44]
12. Vor meinem Vaterhaus steht eine Linde* [5.46]
10] & [11] Electrola 062-28056/57
August Büchse
13. Das Elternhaus* (Wo’s Dörflein traut zu Ende geht) [3.05]
Electrola 062-28006
Fritz Jöde (1887-1970)
Zwei Lieder aus Der kleine Rosengarten von Hermann Löns*
14. Der Tausch (Du hast mein Herz gefangen) [1.35]
Electrola STE 60795/OYRA 1742
15. Der Stromer (Hier auf der Haide) [2.30]
Electrola 062-28008
Friedrich Fürst
16. Aber der Wagen rollt [3.34]
Electrola EG 7735/ORA 6911-2
Carl Loewe (1796-1869)
17. Die Uhr (Ich trage, wo ich gehe, stets eine Uhr bei mir) [6.11]
Franz Schubert (1797-1828)
18. Grenzen der Menschheit D716 (Wenn der uralte, Heilige Vater) [8.58]
[17] 18] Archiv DRA
Gottlob Frick (Baß)
[2] – [6] Chor der St. Hedwigs-Kathedrale, Berlin & Berliner Symphoniker / Karl Forster
[1] Berliner Philharmoniker / Karl Forster
[7] & [8] Berliner Symphoniker / Werner Eisbrenner
[9] & [16] Orchester Simon Krapp / Simon Krapp
[10] Ein Orchester / Willy Sommerfeld
[11] & [12] Symphonie-Orchester Graunke / Robert Stolz
[13] Symphonie-Orchester Graunke / Willy Mattes
[15] Symphonie-Orchester Graunke / Helmut Reger
[14] FFB-Orchester / Werner Eisbrenner
Klavier: [17] Hermann Loux; [18] Martin Görgen
aufgenommen/recorded: 1949 [17] & [18]; III./1952 [9] & [16]; II./1957 [2]; V./1957 [3] – [8]; VI./1958 [10]; II./1960 [1]; XII./1961 [14];
VI./1968 [15]; III., IV., VI./1969 [10] – [13]
Tr. [9], [13], [16] CD-Premieren
CD 4 Bonus: Duet Gottlob Frick with Fritz Wunderlich (1964 live private tape, first release) [10.12]
1. Ansage / Announcement [0.45]
Bedřich Smetana (1824-1884)
Die verkaufte Braut / Prodaná nevěsta
2. Komm, mein Söhnchen, auf ein Wort/ Nuže, milý chasníku [9.24]
(Kecal: G. Frick; Hans/Jeník: F. Wunderlich, 2. Akt)
Josef Bloser, Klavier
aufgenommen/recorded: 29. VI. 1964 ‘live’ Ölbronn (privater Bandmitschnitt)



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