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Soprano Duets / Schwarzkopf, Seefried, Moore


Release Date: 09/18/2007 
Label:  Emi Great Recordings Of The Century Catalog #: 92056   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Claudio MonteverdiGiacomo CarissimiAntonín DvorákEngelbert Humperdinck,   ... 
Performer:  Gerald MooreIrmgard SeefriedElisabeth Schwarzkopf
Conductor:  Herbert von KarajanJosef Krips
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic OrchestraPhilharmonia Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Mono 
Length: 1 Hours 16 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

One of the most magical moments in the world of recorded opera.

When the LP from which the greater portion of this disc derives was recorded in 1955 the so-called authentic movement, striving for historically correct performances of early music, was still in its infancy. True, August Wenzinger in Basle was an early stickler for authentic sounds - his recordings of the Brandenburg concertos were epoch-making. In his complete L’Orfeo he also insisted on authenticity as regards the instrumental parts. The singing was another matter. Good as many of the soloists are, not least the experienced Bach singer Helmut Krebs in the title role, there is still a feeling of later periods in much of it. That is also the impression one
Read more has when hearing the two superb sopranos on the present disc. They were greatly admired in their day for their Mozart singing and their Lieder interpretations – and still are. It is in this vein that they also tackle Monteverdi and Carissimi. The results are musically attractive. They are warm and nuanced and sing with careful attention to the texts. Moreover their voices match splendidly. The inauthentic piano is played by the ever-sensitive Gerald Moore with such lightness of touch that I initially thought it was a harpsichord, or at least a fortepiano. I can’t believe anyone hearing this recording for the first time, not knowing the music and with no special insight in authentic performance practice, will be anything but enthralled by the two ladies. Charm and communication were keywords in their artistic vocabulary and that is exactly what these performances radiate.

Going to representatives for the authentic camp for comparison can be instructive. However. I couldn’t find more than one item in my collection, but this was enough. It was the very first duet, Io son pur vezzosetta pastorella, in a recording from 1987 with Emma Kirkby and Evelyn Tubb. Playing the two versions in rapid succession showed clear differences. In opposition to warm and beautiful vibrato of Schwarzkopf and Seefried, Kirkby and Tubb sing with leaner voices, whiter if you like. There’s a minimum of vibrato and an even lighter touch. The effect can be startling. When the two older voices sing together the outcome can be illustrated by two sine curves intertwining, resulting in slightly muddled chords. When the straight voices meet the chords are absolutely clean. This also means that dissonance is also painfully dissonant, which listeners in Monteverdi’s time no doubt took for granted. Anthony Rooley’s lute with its frailer tone also makes a great difference. Let me just stress once more that the difference lies in approach, not quality.

The Dvo?ák duets are a quite different matter. Many composers in the 19th century wrote duets, notably, in the generation before Dvo?ák, both Schumann and Mendelssohn. That they are rarely heard has nothing to do with the quality of the music but the dearth of opportunities to perform them. Concert organizers are seldom willing to risk money on hiring two sopranos instead of one. And in the case of Dvo?ák this is a pity since the songs are endearing. Schwarzkopf and Seefried obviously felt that way since they lavish all their charm and interpretative skill on the duets. Heard all in a row they might be slightly monotonous – Dvorak’s fault, not that of the singers – but heard three or four at a time they are true delicatessen!

The two “fillers” are much more than that: two classics that should always be available and even those who don’t bother a brass farthing about Monteverdi, Carissimi and Dvo?ák should still contemplate a purchase of the disc for the sake of the Humperdinck and Strauss. Recorded in 1947 when Schwarzkopf was 32 and Seefried 28, they are here caught when they were at their freshest. Elisabeth Schwarzkopf’s voice was at that time almost soubrettish while Seefried from the outset of her career in the early 1940s had that almost mezzo-like darkish timbre. I may misuse the word but the only adjective in my vocabulary that seems suitable for the Hansel und Gretel duet is ‘endearing’, while ‘heavenly’ seems the adequate word for the presentation of the silver rose from Rosenkavalier. Both singers recorded the opera complete later on, Schwarzkopf with Karajan on HMV but then as Feldmarschallin, while Seefried remained Octavian more than a decade later on the Böhm recording for DG. Karajan is at the helm of the VPO here and the silvery string tone has a unique glow. When Schwarzkopf sails up high above the orchestra at Wie himmliche, nicht irdische, wir Rosen vom hochheiligen Paradies, this is definitely one of the most magical moments in the world of recorded opera.

The sound is impressive even in the 1947 items. As always with this admirable GROC series the documentation is impeccable with full texts and translation and an appreciation by John Steane. Go out and buy!

-- Göran Forsling, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

1.
Madrigals, Book 7: Io son pur vezzosetta pastorella by Claudio Monteverdi
Performer:  Gerald Moore (Piano), Irmgard Seefried (Soprano), Elisabeth Schwarzkopf (Soprano)
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1619; Italy 
Length: 3 Minutes 6 Secs. 
2.
Madrigals, Book 8: Ardo e scoprir, ahi lasso by Claudio Monteverdi
Performer:  Gerald Moore (Piano), Irmgard Seefried (Soprano), Elisabeth Schwarzkopf (Soprano)
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1638; Italy 
Length: 3 Minutes 33 Secs. 
3.
Madrigals, Book 1: Baci, soavi e cari by Claudio Monteverdi
Performer:  Gerald Moore (Piano), Irmgard Seefried (Soprano), Elisabeth Schwarzkopf (Soprano)
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1587; Cremona, Italy 
Length: 3 Minutes 7 Secs. 
4.
Lungi omai, deh, spiega by Giacomo Carissimi
Performer:  Gerald Moore (Piano), Irmgard Seefried (Soprano), Elisabeth Schwarzkopf (Soprano)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 17th Century; Italy 
Length: 2 Minutes 31 Secs. 
5.
A piè d'un verde alloro "I filosofi" by Giacomo Carissimi
Performer:  Gerald Moore (Piano), Irmgard Seefried (Soprano), Elisabeth Schwarzkopf (Soprano)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 17th Century; Italy 
Length: 3 Minutes 14 Secs. 
6.
Der Rosenkavalier, Op. 59: Mir ist..."Rose Presentation" by Richard Strauss
Performer:  Elisabeth Schwarzkopf (Soprano), Irmgard Seefried (Soprano)
Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1909-1910; Germany 
Length: 11 Minutes 26 Secs. 
7.
Dialogo di ninfa e pastore by Claudio Monteverdi
Performer:  Elisabeth Schwarzkopf (Soprano), Gerald Moore (Piano), Irmgard Seefried (Soprano)
Period: Baroque 
Written: Italy 
Length: 4 Minutes 8 Secs. 
8.
Detesta la cativa sorte in amore (E pur vuole) by Giacomo Carissimi
Performer:  Elisabeth Schwarzkopf (Soprano), Gerald Moore (Piano), Irmgard Seefried (Soprano)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 17th Century; Italy 
Length: 4 Minutes 10 Secs. 
9.
Il mio core è un mar by Giacomo Carissimi
Performer:  Elisabeth Schwarzkopf (Soprano), Gerald Moore (Piano), Irmgard Seefried (Soprano)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 17th Century; Italy 
Length: 3 Minutes 31 Secs. 
10.
Moravian Duets (5), Op. 29: no 1, From thee now by Antonín Dvorák
Performer:  Elisabeth Schwarzkopf (Soprano), Gerald Moore (Piano), Irmgard Seefried (Soprano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1876; Bohemia 
Length: 2 Minutes 17 Secs. 
11.
Moravian Duets (5), Op. 29: no 2, Fly sweet songster by Antonín Dvorák
Performer:  Elisabeth Schwarzkopf (Soprano), Gerald Moore (Piano), Irmgard Seefried (Soprano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1876; Bohemia 
Length: 2 Minutes 41 Secs. 
12.
Moravian Duets (5), Op. 29: no 3, The slighted heart by Antonín Dvorák
Performer:  Elisabeth Schwarzkopf (Soprano), Gerald Moore (Piano), Irmgard Seefried (Soprano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1876; Bohemia 
Length: 1 Minutes 9 Secs. 
13.
Moravian Duets (5), Op. 29: no 4, Parting without sorrow by Antonín Dvorák
Performer:  Elisabeth Schwarzkopf (Soprano), Gerald Moore (Piano), Irmgard Seefried (Soprano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1876; Bohemia 
Length: 1 Minutes 0 Secs. 
14.
Moravian Duets (5), Op. 29: no 5, The pledge of love by Antonín Dvorák
Performer:  Elisabeth Schwarzkopf (Soprano), Gerald Moore (Piano), Irmgard Seefried (Soprano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1876; Bohemia 
Length: 1 Minutes 4 Secs. 
15.
Hänsel und Gretel: Brüderchen, komm, tanz' mit mir by Engelbert Humperdinck
Performer:  Irmgard Seefried (Soprano), Elisabeth Schwarzkopf (Soprano)
Conductor:  Josef Krips
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1893; Germany 
Length: 9 Minutes 44 Secs. 

Sound Samples

Madrigals, Book 7 (Concerto: settimo libro de madrigali) (2007 Digital Remaster): Io son pur vezzosetta pastorella
Madrigals, Book 8 (Madrigali guerrieri et amorosi...libro ottavo) (2007 Digital Remaster): Ardo e scoprir
Madrigals, book 1 (Il primo libro de madrigali) (2007 Digital Remaster): Baci cari (Marini)
madrigals, book 9 (Madrigali e canzonetta...libro nono) (2007 Digital Remaster): Dialogo di ninfa e pastore
E pur vuole in cielo, 'Destava la cativa sorte in amore' (2007 Digital Remaster)
Lungi omai deh spiega (2007 Digital Remaster)
Il mio core è un mar (2007 Digital Remaster)
A piè d'un verde alloro, '(I) Filosofi' (2007 Digital Remaster)
Klänge Aus Mähren (Strains From Moravia), Op.32 (2007 Digital Remaster): No.1: Ich schwimm' dir davon
Klänge Aus Mähren (Strains From Moravia), Op.32 (2007 Digital Remaster): No.2: Fliege, Vöglein
Klänge Aus Mähren (Strains From Moravia), Op.32 (2007 Digital Remaster): No.3: Wenn die Sense
Klänge Aus Mähren (Strains From Moravia), Op.32 (2007 Digital Remaster): No.4: Freundlich lass uns scheiden
Klänge Aus Mähren (Strains From Moravia), Op.32 (2007 Digital Remaster): No.5: Der kleine Acker
Klänge Aus Mähren (Strains From Moravia), Op.32 (2007 Digital Remaster): No.6: Die Taube auf dem Ahorn
Klänge Aus Mähren (Strains From Moravia), Op.32 (2007 Digital Remaster): No.7: Wasser und Weinen
Klänge Aus Mähren (Strains From Moravia), Op.32 (2007 Digital Remaster): No.8: Die Bescheidene
Klänge Aus Mähren (Strains From Moravia), Op.32 (2007 Digital Remaster): No.9: Der Ring
Klänge Aus Mähren (Strains From Moravia), Op.32 (2007 Digital Remaster): No.10: Grüne, du Gras!
Klänge Aus Mähren (Strains From Moravia), Op.32 (2007 Digital Remaster): No.11: Die Gefangene
Klänge Aus Mähren (Strains From Moravia), Op.32 (2007 Digital Remaster): No.12: Der Trost
Klänge Aus Mähren (Strains From Moravia), Op.32 (2007 Digital Remaster): No.13: Wilde Rose
Hänsel und Gretel (Act 1) (2007 Digital Remaster): Suse, liebe Suse... Brüderchen, komm tanz mit mir (Dance Duet)
Der Rosenkavalier Op. 59 (2007 Digital Remaster): Herr Gott im Himmel! (Presentation of the Silver Rose) (Act 2)

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