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Helen Traubel and Lauritz Melchior Sing Wagner


Release Date: 06/29/1999 
Label:  Sony Classical Masterworks Catalog #: 60896   Spars Code: ADD 
Composer:  Richard Wagner
Performer:  Lauritz MelchiorHelen TraubelLorenzo AlvaryAstrid Varnay,   ... 
Conductor:  Erich LeinsdorfArtur RodzinskiErnst KnochFritz Busch,   ... 
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Columbia Symphony OrchestraNew York PhilharmonicMetropolitan Opera Orchestra,   ... 
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Mono 
Length: 2 Hours 15 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Melchior sings wonderfully well, and in the Third Act of Tristan gives one of the most moving performances on record.

Melchior's Columbia recordings tend to be forgotten (there were excerpts from Otello too), and this issue brings them to notice. But the writer of the introductory notes, William Youngren, is quite justified in focusing his attention on the soprano, Helen Traubel, especially as he believes these to be the first of her studio recordings to have been transferred to CD. She blotted her copy-book in the eyes of some by singing in night clubs (as both she and Melchior blotted theirs by allegedly fooling around, making faces at each other and so forth, in performances of Tristan). She nevertheless filled a
Read more perilous vacancy when Flagstad left America in wartime, and did so with a distinction that was all her own. Hers was one of the few big Wagnerian voices that could match Flagstad's in steadiness. It was a full-bodied, cleaving sound, not as warm as the Norwegian's in the middle and lower registers, but never shallow in tone and always clean in attack. Not especially imaginative, she could still soften both voice and manner as she does in Elsa's song to the breezes, and the fiercer phrases of Isolde's narrative are distinctly scary. The Gramophone Database does in fact have several entries under her name, including a recital on Preiser and a Tristan und Isolde from the Met, with Melchior, on Naxos (5/98); even so, this is welcome, both on her account and on that of her great partner, with whom she is not actually paired on these records.

Her tenors are Kurt Baum in Lohengrin and, in Tristan, Torsten Ralf whose unpleasing vowelsounds, uninteresting tone and unromantic style hardly account for Isolde's enthusiasm. Baum comes to me as a surprise: vibrant, almost lush, almost a louder, more throaty, Wittrisch. Melchior's partner in the Lohengrin love duet is Astrid Varnay, not an apt or sympathetic Elsa as recorded. In Tristan his Kurwenal is Janssen, one of the supreme artists of his time: a little older here and not quite so fresh but still an understandably precious memory in certain phrases, such as the pained, compassionate 'Nicht doch: in Kareol'.

And that leaves, among the principal singers, Melchior himself. There is wear on his voice, and it is also true that a backward journey, with Rienzi's 'Allmacht'ger Vater' heard, first, in this recording from 1942, then in 1930 and finally 1923, shows a steady gain in refinement the further back you go, the early Polydor version being most beautifully and prayerfully addressed. He still sings wonderfully well, and in the Third Act of Tristan gives one of the most moving perfor mances on record. The quality of recording, it must be said, does not improve when the operation moves south to Buenos Aires. The various conductors throughout contribute in a way that gains acknowledgement rather than anything more affectionate. There is certain interest in hearing Fritz Busch conduct Wagner - but why oh why did he allow that odious major chord at the end of the Tristan love duet?

-- Gramophone [10/1999]
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Works on This Recording

1.
Rienzi: Allmächt'ger Vater, blick herab by Richard Wagner
Performer:  Lauritz Melchior (Tenor)
Conductor:  Erich Leinsdorf
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Columbia Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1840-1843; Germany 
Date of Recording: 04/14/1942 
Venue:  Liederkranz Hall, New York City 
Length: 4 Minutes 36 Secs. 
Language: German 
2.
Lohengrin: Einsam in trüben Tagen "Elsa's dream" by Richard Wagner
Performer:  Helen Traubel (Soprano)
Conductor:  Artur Rodzinski
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1847; Germany 
Date of Recording: 05/23/1945 
Venue:  Carnegie Hall, New York City 
Length: 6 Minutes 37 Secs. 
Language: German 
3.
Lohengrin: Nun sei bedankt, mein lieber Schwann! by Richard Wagner
Performer:  Lorenzo Alvary (Bass), Lauritz Melchior (Tenor)
Conductor:  Erich Leinsdorf
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Columbia Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1847; Germany 
Date of Recording: 04/1942 
Venue:  Liederkranz Hall, New York City 
Length: 4 Minutes 24 Secs. 
Language: German 
4.
Lohengrin: Wenn ich im Kampfe...Nie sollst du mich befragen by Richard Wagner
Performer:  Astrid Varnay (Soprano), Lauritz Melchior (Tenor)
Conductor:  Erich Leinsdorf
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Columbia Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1847; Germany 
Date of Recording: 04/1942 
Venue:  Liederkranz Hall, New York City 
Length: 4 Minutes 22 Secs. 
Language: German 
Notes: This selection begins with "Mein Held, mein Retter." 
5.
Lohengrin: Euch Lüften, die mein Klagen by Richard Wagner
Performer:  Helen Traubel (Soprano)
Conductor:  Ernst Knoch
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1847; Germany 
Date of Recording: 05/29/1945 
Venue:  Carnegie Hall, New York City 
Length: 4 Minutes 12 Secs. 
Language: German 
6.
Lohengrin: Das süsse Lied verhallt...Atmest du nicht mit mir by Richard Wagner
Performer:  Kurt Baum (Tenor), Helen Traubel (Soprano)
Conductor:  Artur Rodzinski
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1847; Germany 
Date of Recording: 05/1945 
Venue:  Carnegie Hall, New York City 
Length: 17 Minutes 28 Secs. 
Language: German 
7.
Tristan und Isolde: Act 1 Prelude by Richard Wagner
Conductor:  Artur Rodzinski
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1858; Germany 
Date of Recording: 05/22/1945 
Venue:  Carnegie Hall, New York City 
Length: 9 Minutes 58 Secs. 
8.
Tristan und Isolde: Wie lachen sie mir "Narrative and Curse" by Richard Wagner
Performer:  Helen Traubel (Soprano)
Conductor:  Artur Rodzinski
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1857-1858; Germany 
Date of Recording: 05/23/1945 
Venue:  Carnegie Hall, New York City 
Length: 9 Minutes 24 Secs. 
Language: German 
Notes: This selection begins with "Erfuhrest du meine Schmach." 
9.
Tristan und Isolde: O sink' hernieder, Nacht der Liebe by Richard Wagner
Performer:  Hertha Glatz (Mezzo Soprano), Helen Traubel (Soprano), Torsten Ralf (Tenor)
Conductor:  Fritz Busch
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1859; Germany 
Date of Recording: 03/16/1947 
Venue:  Metropolitan Opera House, New York City 
Length: 18 Minutes 1 Secs. 
Language: German 
10.
Tristan und Isolde: O König, das kann ich dir nicht sagen by Richard Wagner
Performer:  Lauritz Melchior (Tenor)
Conductor:  Erich Leinsdorf
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Columbia Opera Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1859; Germany 
Date of Recording: 04/14/1942 
Venue:  Liederkranz Hall, New York City 
Length: 4 Minutes 48 Secs. 
Language: German 
11.
Tristan und Isolde: Act 3 Prelude by Richard Wagner
Conductor:  Artur Rodzinski
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1859; Germany 
Date of Recording: 04/1945 
Venue:  Carnegie Hall, New York City 
Length: 7 Minutes 58 Secs. 
12.
Tristan und Isolde: Die alte Weise by Richard Wagner
Performer:  Herbert Janssen (Baritone), Lauritz Melchior (Tenor)
Conductor:  Erich Leinsdorf,  Robert Kinsky
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Columbia Opera Orchestra,  Buenos Aires Teatro Colón Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1859; Germany 
Date of Recording: 1942-43 
Length: 32 Minutes 52 Secs. 
Language: German 
Notes: This selection was recorded partly in Liederkranz Hall, New York City, and partly in Buenos Aires, Argentina. 
13.
Tristan und Isolde: O diese Sonne by Richard Wagner
Performer:  Herbert Janssen (Baritone), Lauritz Melchior (Tenor)
Conductor:  Robert Kinsky
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Buenos Aires Teatro Colón Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1857-1859; Germany 
Date of Recording: 09/09/1943 
Venue:  Buenos Aires, Argentina 
Length: 3 Minutes 35 Secs. 
Language: German 
14.
Tristan und Isolde: Mild und leise "Liebestod" by Richard Wagner
Performer:  Helen Traubel (Soprano)
Conductor:  Artur Rodzinski
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1859; Germany 
Date of Recording: 05/23/1945 
Venue:  Carnegie Hall, New York City 
Length: 6 Minutes 26 Secs. 
Language: German 

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