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Posts Tagged ‘Hans Hotter’

I have probably written something about that in the old blog – the fact is I have an unhealthy interest in Verdi/Puccini (and other verismo composers) recordings “in deutscher Sprache gesungen”. Many performances by wonderful underrecorded singers are available only in German versions and, if Irmgard Seefried was right to say the right way to sing anything it is to sing as if it were Mozart, then you could expect some unusually musicianly recordings.  The truth is less charming than that – sometimes, the text becomes obtrusive in German, the concept of “bleeding chunks” is crudely observed in the highlights available (?) in the catalogue and there is more than a splash of operetta in the approach of some singers. That said, I stick to the concept that hidden treasures abound. I am sure I have written something about Pilar Lorengar’s lovely Mimì,  Anja Silja’s chilling Tosca or Grace Bumbry’s passionate Leonora (as a matter of fact, this Leonora di Vargas is probably the best I have ever heard, regardless of the language).

My investigations has now taken me to a truly unusual Don Carlos. Giuseppe Patanè conducts the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra adeptly but without much imagination and EMI could have provided richer orchestral perspective. In these highlights, Edda Moser is reduced to her big aria – very correctly sung but, as far as German sopranos go, Gundula Janowitz (in Italian) is far more passionate. Nicolai Gedda is a rather explosive and whiny Carlos (I might be mistaken, but I don’t think he sang this role live) and Kurt Moll’s Ella giammai m’amò is a bit square. When it comes to Fischer-Dieskau’s Posa,  if you think he sounds too intellectual in Italian, you should sample his phraseology in German! The shining feature here is definitely Brigitte Fassbaender’s Eboli. It is indeed a pity she has not tried the Veil Song – I think she would acquit herself more than honourably there.  She offers a fabulous trill in the garden scene and sings a truly impressive O don fatale (I intend to write further about that impossible aria in another post) – she darts her top notes with impressive confidence, plunges into her low register with panache and elegance and has reserves of attitude. It is true, though,  that the German text has more “breathing points”, especially in the stretta. I don’t know how she would sound live in this role – but this recording is really cherishable.

The second part of my Fehrdian adventure is a  Aida – dully conducted by Argeo Quadri and poorly recorded by Deutsche Grammophon (orchestra on the dim side and singers closely recorded). It enshrines the “Verdi-auf-Deutsch”-diva Gloria Davy in the title role.  She is an American soprano spinto with a truly rich sound perfectly focused from bottom to top.  The close recording prevents her from offering pianissimo of any kind, but this is a thoroughly sung account of a very difficult role. One might think she lacks a more exquisite tone or a bit imagination, yet she is realiable in every aspect. I remember a broadcast (or something like that) from a live performance from Berlin (also in German – with Christa Ludwig and Jesse Thomas – if my memory does not fail me, Wieland Wagner was the stage director) in which she fares far better and sings an exquisite closing scene. Here she is partnered by Sandor Konya. He might have his lachrymose moments and is a bit cautious in one or two tricky passages. However, he is in truly healthy voice. There is a touch of wooliness in Hans Hotter’s Amonasro. That said, he handles the German text so musicianly that you cannot help admiring his work here. Finally, there is Cvetka Ahlin’s svelte Amneris. You might miss more impact and glamour, but it is dramatically interesting to have someone more formidable as Aida for a while. Generally, one keeps wondering why Radamès trades a sexy mezzo for a stressed soprano…

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