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Helen Traubel & Lauritz Melchior Sing Wagner
Helen Traubel, Lauritz Melchior
Helen Traubel & Lauritz Melchior Sing Wagner
Genre: Classical
  •  Track Listings (8) - Disc #1
  •  Track Listings (6) - Disc #2

During the 1940s, Helen Traubel and Lauritz Melchior ruled the Wagnerian roost on American opera stages. Although they're not paired up here (turn to the Toscanini Walküre Act I scene iii or Götterd...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Helen Traubel, Lauritz Melchior
Title: Helen Traubel & Lauritz Melchior Sing Wagner
Members Wishing: 0
Total Copies: 1
Label: Sony
Release Date: 6/29/1999
Album Type: Original recording remastered
Genre: Classical
Styles: Opera & Classical Vocal, Historical Periods, Modern, 20th, & 21st Century
Number of Discs: 2
SwapaCD Credits: 2
UPC: 074646089620

During the 1940s, Helen Traubel and Lauritz Melchior ruled the Wagnerian roost on American opera stages. Although they're not paired up here (turn to the Toscanini Walküre Act I scene iii or Götterdämmerung love duet on BMG for the Traubel-Melchior partnership in full flower), this collection of short arias and extended scenes displays a kind of vocal amplitude, ease of delivery, and directness of utterance rarely encountered today. Traubel may not delve the fiery waters of Isolde's Narrative and Curse with the intensity of a Frieda Leider or Kirsten Flagstad, but her clear diction and bedrock intonation will surely stop aspiring Elsas or Isoldes in their tracks. In the complete first scene from Act 3 of Tristan und Isolde, the matchless Melchior characterizes the protagonist's descent into delirium via purely vocal means, with no enacting or barking. True, his baritonal timbre boasted more vibrance and roundness in the live 1936 Covent Garden Tristan on VAI. Still, neither Torsten Ralf nor Kurt Baum, fine as they are here, quite matches their older colleague's unique sound. Artur Rodzinsky and Fritz Busch stand out for their full-throttled, supportive podium work. Sony's dazzling transfers uphold the incomparable standards typical of the Masterworks Heritage series, while William Youngren's informative annotations are free of claptrap. --Jed Distler

CD Reviews

The greatest Wagnerian tenor and soprano at their peak
A. Andersen | Bellows Falls, VT USA | 08/14/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Although as billed this 2 cd album would seem to indicate we were going to get a series of duets between these two greats, these are Columbia studio recordings of the forties and the two sing separately, never together. (RCA has kept its two Melchior/Traubel duets - with Toscanini - consistently in print on LP, tape and CD as well as Traubel's Immolation Scene). The Columbia material here is drawn from 78 rpm albums, released as lps and then unavailable for a quarter of a century - restored to us at last. The set lasts two hours and seventeen minutes with Melchior getting the lion's share of one hour and fifteen minutes and Traubel following up with 62 minutes of singing.This of course represents the much-mourned "bleeding chunk" variety of Wagnerian recordings which were all that we had available in pre-lp days. Except for one excerpt from RIENZI, the material is all from two operas LOHENGRIN and TRISTAN UND ISOLDE. Too bad some digital wizardry could not have been performed to replace Traubel's Tristan (Torsten Ralf) with Melchior but alas they didn't cover the same material so even digital wizardry could not help us here.Recordings of Met broadcasts with the two paired in TRISTAN do exist and why they are not cd is a puzzlement.The strength and purity of line of both Melchior and Traubel are unsurpassed. There was never a warmer Wagnerian soprano than Traubel and she is always totally on pitch - her notes are perfectly sung and her line is unwavering. I can't understand how people can hear Flagstad (who always left me cold) and Traubel and proclaim the former to be warmer. It simply isn't true. Traubel is velvet - for me simply the finest Wagnerian soprano ever recorded.This is a treasure trove set and budget-priced. The digital transfers of the original mono sound are superb. Very highly recommended."
A must have
Ricardo J. Estevez | Coral Gables, FL United States | 01/18/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Anyone who loves Wagner cannot be without this priceless issue. Two of this century's greatest Wagnerian singers at their artistic peaks singing these masterful selections with aplomb, intensity and a brilliant vocal technique that would dazzle even the staunchest anti-Wagnerian. Ms. Trauble's "Liebstod" is so exquisite and electrifying that you'll never again want to hear another singer utter those haunting words, including Nilsson, Flagstad, M. Price, Behrens and Lehman, just to name a few. As great as all those ladies were in the role, Helen Trauble just manages to infuse it with a greater sense of passion and pathos. What can be said about Lauritz Melchior except that he was the only "true" heldentenor of this century, with a powerful instrument that was used with innate intelligence and artistry? No one (least of all today) can hold a candle to this brilliant singer and seriously doubt his lofty position will be threatened anytime in the immediate future. Though mono recordings, the sound quality is EXTRAORDINARY. Bravo to Sony for their unyielding commitment to restoring these priceless recordings and bringing them to a new generation of music lovers."
Extradordinary issue of classic recordings
Ricardo J. Estevez | 03/02/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Even a non-Wagnerian will rejoice at hearing these discs, highlighting the work of the two best Wagner singers of the 20th Century, Melchior and Traubel, in their prime. The Traubel "Liebestod" alone is worth the price of admission! Here she uses her extraordinary vocal instrument to thrilling effect. Her prodigious technique, incredible breath control unmatched by today's singers, clear diction and rock solid intonation are glorious to hear. Her extraordinary performance is matched by Rodzinski's conducting of the New York Philharmonic. Sony's remasterings are splendid. During the mid '40's Columbia was experimenting with various long playing formats, resulting of course in the "microgroove" records of 1948. All recordings from 1944 on were recorded on large 16 inch discs in anticipation of this breakthrough. As a result the original masters on these CD's are possessed of extraordinary clarity and richness."