Elisabeth Schwarzkopf Vol. 2
''A brilliant, fresh voice shot with laughter, not large but admirably projected, with enchanting high pianissimi.'' Walter Legge's description of Schwarzkopf's voice as he first heard it at the Theater an der Wien in 1946 holds aptly for these records too. The clarity of tone, evenness of production, accomplishment in some of the most difficult feats of technique are lit up by a radiance of personality and musical feeling. It is one of the most fascinating of things, this vocal photograph-album from early days, where at first it is hard to recognize the features at all (I'd certainly need some helpful prodding in any guessing-game involving the Bach), then a smile, an idiosyncrasy of expression, and you begin to find the 'face' you know; and soon the identity becomes so obvious you almost wonder whether it changed at all. Certainly there is wonder (in the other sense) at what was already there before Legge 'found' it. The songs by Richard Trunk, for instance, are wonderfully strong in the style and responsiveness of Schwarzkopf's singing. Strauss's Hat gesagt is already the work of a genuinely distinguished Lieder singer. In the first of the Reger songs, that voice 'shot with laughter' is a vivid presence, whereas so often this particular kind of expressive ability, especially on records, proves one of the most elusive. No, there is no doubt at all about the star-quality of the material.
But it would be a pity if these records were listened to essentially in a spirit of curiosity. There are delights here, quite irrespective of the singer's identity and her later career. A gem is Busoni's Unter der Linden, a rare and charming song, sung with every grace including a natural feeling for rubato. The duets with Josef Greindl are coolly pleasant too, Greindl's Wagnerian bass being well-tamed. One is aware, I think, of the tessitura of some of the songs being high for the soprano, who nevertheless copes with apparent ease: a prize pupil, after all, of the great Ivogun, in whose steps she seemed to be treading. And out there, eventually to take his seat for a performance of Il barbiere di Siviglia in Vienna, was the man who came to see so clearly what might develop, having such an accurate appreciation of what was already present.'