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Dokumente Einer Sangerkarriere: Martha Modl

Gluck / Beethoven / Verdi / Modl
Release Date: 06/08/2010 
Label:  Preiser Records   Catalog #: 93460   Spars Code: AAD 
Composer:  Christoph W. GluckGiuseppe VerdiGeorges BizetRichard Wagner,   ... 
Performer:  Martha MödlJohanna BlatterWolfgang WindgassenRudolf Schock
Conductor:  Hans LöwleinHans Schmidt-IsserstedtArthur RotherJoseph Keilberth,   ... 
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Mono 
Length: 2 Hours 37 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



MARTHA MÖDL Martha Mödl (sop); 2 Hans Löwlein, cond; 3 Artur Rother, cond; 4 Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt, cond; 6 Joseph Keilberth, cond; 7 Hans Knappertsbusch, cond; 8 Wilhelm Schüchter, cond; 9 Johanna Blatter (mez); Read more 10 Wolfgang Windgassen (ten); 11 Rudolf Schock (ten); 1 Berlin State Op O; 5 NW German R O; 6 Cologne R S O; 7 Bayreuth Festival O PREISER 93460, mono (2 CDs: 156:41) 6 Live: Cologne 1955


GLUCK Orfeo ed Euridice: Che faro senza Euridice? 1,2 BEETHOVEN Fidelio: Abscheulischer, wo eilst du hin? 1,3 VERDI Macbeth: La luce langue; Una macchia 1,2. Don Carlos: Tu che la vanita 1,2. BIZET Carmen: Habañera; 4,5 Seguidilla; En vain pour eviter 1,3. WAGNER Wesendonck Lieder. 6 Tristan und Isolde: Weh’, ach wehe! dies zu dulden; 1,3,9 Isolde! Tristan! Geliebter; 1,3,9,10 Mild und leise 1,3. Götterdämmerung: Starke Scheite 1,3. Parsifal: Ich sah das Kind 7. MUSSORGSKY Boris Godunov: Dimitri! Zarewitsch! 5,8,11


Martha Mödl (1912–2001) was, in many ways, a singer caught in the crosshairs of history. For whatever reason, personal or political, she started studying singing relatively late, at age 28, and debuted only three years later as Hansel in Humperdinck’s opera. She continued to sing as a mezzo through 1951, adding her first Wagnerian role, Kundry in Parsifal, in 1949. Whether at the encouragement of Wilhelm Furtwängler or Wieland Wagner, both of whom admired and used her as a Wagner soprano, she moved up the vocal scale to soprano in December 1951, singing Isolde in Florence. Wieland almost immediately hired her as one of his “new Bayreuth” sopranos, where she repeated Isolde in 1952 and quickly added the three Brünnhildes to her repertoire. Furtwängler used her in this capacity in his famous RAI Ring cycle of 1953, and throughout the 1950s she alternated with Astrid Varnay in Wagnerian soprano roles at Bayreuth.


Whether due to rushed training or inherent vocal flaws, Mödl was never 100-percent secure in her upper range, alternating high notes of stunning power, security, and beauty with ones of stridency and occasional slipped pitch. Her voice was creamy and rich yet, for all her mezzo training and experience, she sounded like a soprano. Many observers attributed her short (10-year) soprano career not so much to a badly placed top range as to the fact that she poured it out with prodigious intensity, almost recklessness. This made her fascinating and intense, but also somewhat unreliable. One can say that she was like the girl with the curl in the middle of her forehead.


This two-CD set from Preiser captures Mödl mostly in her early prime, 1950–55, with two tracks—ironically, as a mezzo in Carmen —from 1958. As is to be expected, she is mostly excellent. An earlier Carmen “Habañera” (1952), Boris Godunov duet (1950), Parsifal aria (1951), and the complete Wesendonck Lieder (1955) are drawn from live performances, mostly radio broadcasts, but the majority of the set is taken from her studio recordings for Telefunken. The sound quality is remarkably consistent, forward, warm and natural, the two exceptions being the Bayreuth excerpt from Parsifal and a nicely reverberant Cologne radio broadcast of the Lieder, both of which have more space around the voice. Alas, though Telefunken went to some pains to provide her with excellent vocal partners, Blatter and Windgassen in the Tristan scenes, they skimped on hiring first-rate conductors. Thus we are stuck, most of the time, with the flaccid, dull, uninspired conducting of Artur Rother and Hans Löwlein, which cheapens and deflates the music. A listener must almost imagine a Keilberth or a Furtwängler at the helm to get the most out of the listening experience.


Mödl almost certainly had no high D? in her range, and so she omits that note in her 1951 reading of Lady Macbeth’s sleepwalking scene. Everything on the album is sung in German, which is a detriment in both the Verdi and Bizet, which simply doesn’t flow properly, less of a problem in the Mussorgsky, where tenor Rudolf Schock is in surprisingly good voice (he usually sounded hard, leathery, and dry). Blatter and Windgassen are simply wonderful in the Tristan excerpts, almost (with Mödl) overcoming Rother’s leaden conducting. Despite some slight pitch wavering in the broadcast transcripts, Mödl’s reading of the Wesendonck Lieder can compete with anyone’s, and Keilberth’s conducting is a breath of fresh air. Even if you weren’t following along, the rhythmic liveliness alone would tell you that the Carmen “Habañera” isn’t conducted by Rother (in fact, it’s Schmidt-Isserstedt).


The soprano’s fans will most definitely want this set if they don’t already own these recordings. For the rest of us, the Tristan love duet, the Boris duet, and the live performances give, I think, the best impression of this very fine if imperfect soprano.


FANFARE: Lynn René Bayley
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Works on This Recording

1.
Orfeo ed Euridice: Che farò senza Euridice? by Christoph W. Gluck
Performer:  Martha Mödl (Voice)
Conductor:  Hans Löwlein
Period: Classical 
Written: 1762/1774; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1951 
Length: 4 Minutes 34 Secs. 
2.
Macbeth: La luce langue by Giuseppe Verdi
Performer:  Martha Mödl (Voice)
Conductor:  Hans Löwlein
Period: Romantic 
Written: Italy 
Date of Recording: 1951 
Length: 4 Minutes 27 Secs. 
3.
Macbeth: Una macchia è qui tuttora "Sleepwalking Scene" by Giuseppe Verdi
Performer:  Martha Mödl (Voice)
Conductor:  Hans Löwlein
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1847/1865; Italy 
Date of Recording: 1951 
Length: 6 Minutes 19 Secs. 
4.
Don Carlos: O don fatale by Giuseppe Verdi
Performer:  Martha Mödl (Voice)
Conductor:  Hans Löwlein
Date of Recording: 1951 
Length: 4 Minutes 16 Secs. 
5.
Carmen: L'amour est un oiseau rebelle "Habañera" by Georges Bizet
Performer:  Martha Mödl (Voice)
Conductor:  Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt
Written: 1873-1874 
Date of Recording: 1952 
Length: 4 Minutes 17 Secs. 
6.
Carmen: Près des ramparts de Seville "Seguidilla" by Georges Bizet
Performer:  Martha Mödl (Voice)
Conductor:  Arthur Rother
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1873-1874; France 
Date of Recording: 1958 
Length: 2 Minutes 7 Secs. 
7.
Carmen: En vain pour éviter les réponses amères "Card Aria" by Georges Bizet
Performer:  Martha Mödl (Voice)
Conductor:  Arthur Rother
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1873-1874; France 
Date of Recording: 1958 
Length: 2 Minutes 56 Secs. 
8.
Wesendonck Lieder by Richard Wagner
Performer:  Martha Mödl (Voice)
Conductor:  Joseph Keilberth
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1857-1858; Germany 
Date of Recording: 1955 
Length: 19 Minutes 33 Secs. 
9.
Tristan und Isolde: Weh, ach wehe! by Richard Wagner
Performer:  Johanna Blatter (Voice), Martha Mödl (Voice)
Conductor:  Arthur Rother
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1859; Germany 
Date of Recording: 1954 
Length: 20 Minutes 48 Secs. 
10.
Tristan und Isolde: Isolde! Tristan! Geliebter! by Richard Wagner
Performer:  Martha Mödl (Voice), Wolfgang Windgassen (Voice), Johanna Blatter (Voice)
Conductor:  Arthur Rother
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1857-1859; Germany 
Date of Recording: 1954 
Length: 34 Minutes 46 Secs. 
11.
Tristan und Isolde: Mild und leise "Liebestod" by Richard Wagner
Performer:  Martha Mödl (Voice)
Conductor:  Arthur Rother
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1859; Germany 
Date of Recording: 1952 
Length: 7 Minutes 15 Secs. 
12.
Götterdämmerung: Immolation by Richard Wagner
Performer:  Martha Mödl (Voice)
Conductor:  Arthur Rother
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1874; Germany 
Date of Recording: 1954 
Length: 20 Minutes 40 Secs. 
13.
Parsifal: Ich sah' das Kind an seiner Mutter Brust by Richard Wagner
Performer:  Martha Mödl (Voice)
Conductor:  Hans Knappertsbusch
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1877-1882; Germany 
Date of Recording: 1951 
Length: 5 Minutes 56 Secs. 
14.
Boris Godunov: Dmitri Tsarevich!...At my heels again by Modest Mussorgsky
Performer:  Rudolf Schock (Voice), Martha Mödl (Voice)
Conductor:  Wilhelm Schüchter
Period: Romantic 
Written: Russia 
Date of Recording: 1950 
Length: 9 Minutes 40 Secs. 
15.
Fidelio, Op. 72: Abscheulicher!...Komm, Hoffnung by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Martha Mödl (Voice)
Conductor:  Arthur Rother
Period: Classical 
Written: Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1951 
Length: 8 Minutes 17 Secs. 

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