Hans Hotter Lieder recital
Hans Hotter celebrated his 80th birthday earlier this year. To mark the occasion Preiser have issued this disc of Lieder recordings made in 1968 and 1969. As Clemens Hosingler points out in his tribute accompanying the CD, Hotter had an amazing versatility both in the opera house and concert platform, happy in tragedy and comedy, in Mozart and Wagner, Verdi and Richard Strauss. Yet he has always found time to explore the lesser-known fields of Lieder, indeed, in his contributions to Raucheisen's Lied Edition recently issued on Acanta LPs (May, page 1798), and on this CD he has sought out neglected Schubert and investigated such relatively unknown composers as Franz and Cornelius—and he was doing this before Fischer-Dieskau appeared on the scene, a point the younger singer has always acknowledged.
The range of Hotter's achievements here is notable, he can declaim like a Wotan the heroic Archibald Douglas, the magnificent Lowe ballad about King James's I's trusty but rejected servant then reduce his huge voice to the needs of such gentle songs as Schumann's Die Lotosblume and Wolfs Gebet. He can sing with notably grave tones Beethoven's Die Ehre Gottes aus der Natur, or choose a confiding manner for Wolf's Verschwiegene Liebe, or adopt a teasing style for the same composer's Der Musikant. Already in his late fifties when these records were made, there are times when the voice loses focus as in Beethoven's In questa tomba oscura, others when pitch falters slightly, but by and large the impression of a singer in control of his appreciable resources and using them to profitable interpretative purpose overrides incidental peccadilloes. Indeed, he seems in fresher voice here than in some of the records he was making while still singing Wagner in the opera house.
The songs by Franz may be insubstantial but they are a welcome addition to the composer's tiny discography. More important is the inclusion of two rare Schubert songs written for a bass-baritone. Der Kreuzzug depicts a monk reverently watching Crusaders departing, Greisengesang, a profound song always a favourite with Hotter, is the lament of a retired lover remembering happier days. These are finely sung, as are the Wolf Eichendorff settings (the last seven songs listed) where Hotter's gift in word-painting is to the fore. Dokoupil is a masterly accompanist. The recording is forward and truthful. Altogether this is a well-varied and enjoyable example of a great artist's work.'