Helge Roswaenge (1897-1972) - II
This is the second box-set of Preiser's Roswaenge compilation, and it represents the resilient tenor at the peak of his powers, more assured, more confident and fuller-toned than in the first issue, which I reviewed earlier (2/92). There is a great deal of Verdi, souvenirs of the tenor's appearances in that composer's operas at the Berlin State Opera, where he was resident throughout 1931–7. They have the twin disadvantage of being sung in German and being subjected to Roswaenge's too Germanic style, full of little nudges and sobs in the line that are foreign to the best interpretations of Verdi. Nevertheless, one has to admire the sheer elan—as ever with which everything is sung.
The most important of the Verdi tracks are the two pieces from I vespri siciliani, commemorating a Berlin revival in which the tenor sang Arrigo Schlusnus his father, Monforte. Their duet is a fine piece of singing tout court. They are part of a Telefunken series from the early 1930s that also includes three Die Meistersinger items. Although the tenor never attempted the role on stage he sings Walther as to the manner born the youthful knight to the life. The Quintet finds him in the little-known company of Pearl Yoder, Lydia Kindermann and Max Kuttner, and the more familiar Hans Reinmar as Sachs. I have always considered this among the most rapt, intimate readings of the piece. Its transfer here is excellent in fact typical of the whole issue.
The French repertory, from either Telefunken or Polydor originals, is well managed. Among desirable readings I would cite an expansive ''Land so wunderbar'' (''O paradis'') from
The second CD comprises many of the better-known Electrola arias from Die Entfuhrung, Der Freischutz, Oberon, Fra Diavolo and Le postillon de Lonjumeau (with its astonishing high notes), also a less familiar duet from Der Barbier von Bagdad (with the tenor's wife, Ilonka). Again, the Verdi pieces here are disappointing, but it's a pleasure to hear Margherita Perras's Violetta in the Traviata duets. Finally, there are four titles from Eduard Kunneke's operetta, Die grosse Sunderin, which was given its premiere at the Berlin State Opera in 1935 with Roswaenge and Tiana Lemnitz as lead singers. The music is second-rate and overblown—but wonderfully sung. As a matter of interest, the duet ''Immerzu singt dein Herz'' is one of Lemnitz's earliest and rarest discs.'