Search - Giuseppe Verdi, Ambroise Thomas, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart :: Famous Basses of the Past

Famous Basses of the Past
Giuseppe Verdi, Ambroise Thomas, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Famous Basses of the Past
Genres: Special Interest, Classical
  •  Track Listings (24) - Disc #1


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Sound files from the past
Anton Zimmerling | Moscow, Russia | 04/17/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)

"The goal of such anthologies is to provide sound files for the names of famous singers picked up by the compiler. This item on Preiser label gets its right audience - mind the name of the series: 'Lebendige Vergagenheit'. Those for whom 'Die Vergangenheit' ('the Past') is still 'lebendig' ('living') would buy reissues of acoustic and early electric recordings, while other categories of people ignore them. On this CD, 24 basses from the past sing 24 different airs and scenes. The earliest items are from 1906-197, the latest ones are Tisch (1941) and Mikhailov (1947), but most recordings in this collection were made between 1910 and 1929.
I love listening to singers of the past: for me, arias recorded by them are not antiquities from a junk shop that should be admired just because they are old, but valid interpretations that may be compared with other accounts - both from the same time and more recent days - and discussed critically.
It is difficult to rate such anthologies, since each compiler has his own favorites. The best way is to see whether the compiler's choice gives a true picture of the art of the singers in question. As a record collector I am in position to check this for some singers included here. That I am giving this anthology 4 stars, not 5, is partly due to my disagreement with the compiler, but mainly to the lack of substantial biographical information about many singers: I wished, e.g. to learn more about Tisch, Autori, Navarini or Belhomme.
To begin with, the cover picture shows a singer not listed on this page - Czech-Austrian basso profundo Wilhelm Hesch: it is his voice who is heard in Osmin's song from "Die Entfuehrung"(track 4), not Francesco Navarini (as wrongly indicated on the product page). I have doubts that Navarini (he is heard on track 3) would make a good Osmin.
Other bassi profondi in this collection are Knuepfer (tr.5), Mardones (tr.7), Sibiriakov (tr.8), List (tr. 21) Mikhailov (tr.22), and Andresen (tr. 23). The remaining are bassi cantanti or 'central' basses.
A few remarks concerning the choice of airs for some singers.
[Track 1]. Paul Plançon - 'Ella giammai m'amò' (1908). Not the best of Plançon's achievements and probably not the best version of this air among acoustic accounts.
[Track 4] Wilhelm Hesch - 'Wer ein Liebchen hat gefunden'. (1907). If I were to give just one item with Hesch, I would opt not for 'Wer ein Liebchen', but for Osmin's aria 'Ha! wie will ich triumphieren' Lebendige Vergangenheit: Wilhelm Hesch- Hesch delivers there the most solid and effortless low D on record.
[Track 5] Paul Knuepfer - 'So schwaermet Jugend' (1913). A right choice. Only Frick Cornelius: Der Barber Von Bagdadsounded equally deep in this air from Cornelius' opera.
[Track 6] Marcel Journet - 'Au bruit de lourds marteaux' (1910). Yes! The early date is fine. In 1920-s Journet's bass sounded thin and tired.
[Track 7] Jose (de) Mardones - 'Infelice e tuo credevi' (1910). No! Mardones's intonation is wanting here. I would rather select him as Zaccaria Great Spanish Bass - Operatic Arias & Songsor Ramphis.
[Track 8] Lev Sibiriakov - 'Si la rigeur' (1910). Yes! Sibiriakov had a first-rate Italian vocal school (though he sings in Russian here) and a unique bass voice: his low notes are a treasure, but his portrayals are less interesting.
[Track 11]. Feodor Chaliapin - 'They guess the truth' (1908). OK, Chaliapin is great. But I would cast Mikhailov Maxim Mikhailovin this Glinkas' aria.
[Track 12]. Adamo Didur - 'No, nessun salvar ti puo' =Schweig, schweig, damit dich niemand warnt! (1908). Yes! The real deal, a demonic Kaspar.
[Track 14]. Richard Mayr - 'Gnade den Suendern' (1911). Yes! A very convincing sample of Mayr's art. Most items on Mayr's solo CD Richard Mayrare weaker.
[Track 18]. Ezio Pinza - 'La veau d'or (1929). OK, Pinza is great here. But he is equally great in Verdi, Mozart, Thomas or Halevy.
[Track 19]. Tancredi Pasero - 'Si, morir ella..' (1928). OK, Pasero is a great bel canto bass. But it is a rather peculiar choice to show him in Ponchielli, not Verdi.
[Track 20]. Alexander Kipnis - 'O Isis und Osiris' (1930). Yes! An easy choice.
[Track 21]. Emmanuel List - 'Andreas Hofer' (1929). Yes! This ballad is fine - (Ade, mein Land, Tirol). It is one of three best items on List's solo CD Lebendige Vergangenheit: Emanuel List, along with extremely funny 'Da lieg ich..' and 'The devil and a Silesian drunkard'.
[Track 22]. Maxime Mikhailov - 'O skaly groznye' (='against the cruel rocks') (1947). OK, Mikhailov is a true profundo. But in this very part his rival Marc Reizen (not included in this compilation, see Lebendige Vergangenheit - Mark Reizen) was superior.
[Track 23]. Ivar Andresen - 'Habt Dank, ihr lieben von Brabant' (1927). OK, Andresen is one the greatest Wagner basses on record. But try to hear him as Hagen and Koenig Marke Lebendige Vergangenheit: Ivar Andrésen II Lebendige Vergangenheit: Ivar Andrésontoo.
[Track 24] Wilhelm Tisch - 'Komm, so lang sich diese Hand' (1941). A very fine item, but absolutely no information about this bass voice.

The transfers are fine, as usual with Preiser records.
Recommended. A good introduction to archive recordings of famous singers.

Anton Zimmerling"