Johanna Gadski, Vol 1
Gadski is one of the best and, surprisingly, one of the best-recorded of sopranos in the early years of our century. A Brunnhilde and Isolde, she had a powerful voice which she used with a rare delicacy. One can imagine that the official whose task it was to move a singer back if the notes seemed about to ‘blast’ and forward again if they were in danger of fading must have had a busy time. But the results are remarkable, as with the issue of this excellent set can be appreciated more readily and fully than ever before.
Most impressive, I would say, are the Wagner solos recorded in 1909. Brunnhilde’s plea is wonderfully eloquent, the voice caught with its wealth of shadings, the emotion both generous and restrained. The earlier passage, “Fort denn eile”, with Sieglinde’s great phrases included, was unpublished in its time and shows the necessary incisiveness. The lyric passage (“Ewig war ich”) from Siegfried is sung with passion and sensitivity, the final pages of the Immolation (“Fliegt heim”) with tremendous command and assurance. Fine, too, is Isolde’s exultant solo (“Dein Werk?”) and perhaps even more remarkable the short solo (“Jokanaan, ich bin verliebt”) from Salome. She was a genuine actress with the voice, as her Aida records make clear; also a Lieder singer who could encompass a heartfelt intensity of expression in Gretchen am Spinnrade and an exquisite refinement of touch in Strauss’s Standchen.
This first volume, which goes to the end of 1909, contains the Aida duets with Caruso and Louise Homer (both magnificent) and the famous recording of the Quintet from Die Meistersinger in which the Hans Sachs (Marcel Journet) makes a mistake in timing and stays resolutely and disastrously out of step till the last chords. The delightful pay-off of this story is that they then made a second take where all went well – and the first was published! Transfers are excellent.'