Ivar Andrésen (1896-1940) - I
''Ivar Andresen has been magnificent,'' said The Musical Times reporting on the season at Covent Garden in 1929. ''One could not want to hear a finer bass.'' And, just to drive the point home, ''He quite outshone Alexander Kipnis''. Such comments made at the time and from experience in the theatre have a special interest for record collectors, most of whom I'm sure would (like myself) much prefer an evening with Kipnis to one with Andresen. Summoning up a quick sound-picture one hears a big, firm voice, deep and dark, but stolid and somewhat... I'd prefer a more courteous word but, bovine.
Now, when one puts on this disc it is to find that 'sound-picture' confirmed to the life. The selection begins with the Zauberflote arias, impressive yes but repulsive too; then two Meyerbeer solos, the first extremely monotonous in coloration and tonally nasty, rather like an enormous magnification of those basses who in our modern choirs drain all the vibrancy out of their voices, the second more varied in tone and expression but still unsatisfying. Then comes something which makes one think again. It is Banquo's recitative and aria in Macbeth: much more character here, much more life in the voice.
With the Wagner, we hear the sound that so impressed The Musical Times's critic in 1929. The Parlophone Lohengrin recordings give the voice stage-room, which it needs, and of course it is magnificent. Better still is the Gotterdammerung: Electrola now, with Leo Blech conducting, and what a difference that makes (in the Parsifal too). Not all of the Wagner supports the 'better than Kipnis' assessment: ''Das schone Fest'' is enthusiastic but unimaginative and the second Tannhauser excerpt brings the word 'stolid' back into use. Still, the selection here helps to construct a stage sound-picture to replace the record-sound-picture.
Incidentally, I wonder if any reader can tell me what happened to him? He died in Stockholm at the age of 44, and, I believe, in poverty.'