Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|R. Strauss, Lehmann, Olszewska|
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A justly famous first-generation "Der Rosenkavalier".
John Austin | Kangaroo Ground, Australia | 01/20/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"As one who heard two of the principals in this famous old recording (Schumann and Olszewska at the end of their careers), I ought perhaps to lead off a discussion and review of this latest of its reissues. By 1933 it was becoming clear that this most delectable and brilliantly scripted opera was likely to retain a permanent place in the international repertory. EMI's leading producer, Fred Gaisberg, had attended performances in London and Vienna given by a notable cast of singers usually conducted by Bruno Walter, and he commenced planning for a Vienna recording. As with most opera recording projects, however, there needed to be compromises. Firstly, the opera was too lengthy to record and issue on 78s. Secondly, the idea of having Strauss himself conduct it had to be abandoned because he demanded too high a fee. Lehmann's recording contracts allowed her to be included, but neither Bruno Walter as conductor nor Delia Reinhardt as the preferred Octavian could be engaged. Ultimately the project went ahead and an abridged version of the opera, reduced to about half its total duration, was recorded and released on thirteen 78s. In 1951, on BBC radio, I heard Elisabeth Schumann play the recording of the final duet in this opera. She introduced it as follows: "I must let you into a little secret concerning this record. When we were making these records in Vienna Lotte Lehmann forgot two notes she had to sing. You may recall that just before the final duet Sophie's father remarks to the Marschallin how amazing young people are and the Marschallin replies, 'Ja, ja'. With the trio over, Lotte Lehmann thought her part in the recording was over and retired to her country house near Vienna. There were too many complications involved in getting Miss Lehmann back and so I sang the two words 'Ja, ja'. You must admit I did it very well." Subsequent research has revealed that the final duet was in fact the first item of the project to be recorded, on the first morning of the schedule, and that Lotte Lehmann had not yet arrived. Nevertheless Schumann did substitute for her great friend and colleague and the "take" was approved immediately. Seventy years later, this splendid Mark Obert-Thorn reissue allows this recording to be heard with greater ease and clarity than ever before. Even so, listeners must bear in mind that recording techniques of the 1930s were barely adequate for capturing the richness of the orchestral score or the intricate vocal textures of the many trios and duets. Singing styles, moreover, differ from today's: both Richard Mayr and Elisabeth Schumann lay the portamento on very thickly. It is, nevertheless, a justly famous cast and one that became closely associated with the opera almost (but not quite) from the time of its 1911 premiere. Lehmann's Marschallin meets all the requirements of the part. Womanly, wise, accepting of disappointment and generous in her nobility, this Marschallin commands attention throughout. Having exactly the kind of silvery voice and enchanting personality that match the role of Sophie, Elisabeth Schumann makes Sophie a more dominant character than is often the case. How well she depicts girlishness after acknowledging the presentation of the silver rose ("I am looking forward to being married? Are you looking forward too?", and how well she ticks off Baron Ochs in the final act ( "I've done and finished with you")! Happily, almost all Sophie's music was retained in this abridged recording. Maria Olszewska's Octavian is perhaps more impressive for purely vocal richness than for character insights. Richard Mayr, Viennese born and bred, created the part of Baron Ochs at the opera's Vienna premiere in 1911 and remained its most celebrated exponent until the time of his death not long after this recording was made. Much of his part of the opera is omitted in this recording but enough remains to show his fluency in the Viennese accent and some highly musical clowning.Both Lehmann and Mayr are represented in individual extracts from this opera, which Naxos provide as an appendix to this recording."
Legendary recording, excellent transfer
Ivor E. Zetler | Sydney Australia | 09/07/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The main reason for the august reputation of this 1933 recording is the participation of Lotte Lehman (Marschallin), Elizabeth Schumann (Octavian) and Richard Mayr (Baron Ochs). These 3 singers were associated with their roles soon after the premiere of this opera in 1911. Their voices have a distinction, individuality and technical secureness that continues to thrill.
This version would not be the first choice; it is severely cut and the sound is elderly though acceptable. As an historical document it is invaluable. This set is filled out with a number of interesting exerpts of early recordings featuring singers such as Richard Tauber, Cochita Supervia and Alexander Kipnis.
If you are seeking a more modern CD recording of this opera, Karajan/Schwarzkopf/EMI still reigns supreme. On DVD there is a marvellous Carlos Kleiber/Vienna performance and another with Byrchkov conducting in Salzburg.