Lehmann Complete 1947 and 1949 Recordings
It is well to remember Lehmann’s age from the start (she was 60 in 1948), and it can then be progressively forgotten. The first impression, in Schubert’s ‘Standchen’, is that in these late recordings we not only meet with the vividly communicative artist we expected, but also with a voice more evidently aged than we may have been prepared for. Then in Brahms’s Zigeunerlieder, she gives herself with such fullness of heart and energy that for a while the contrast between the ever-youthful spirit and the physical limitations (very audibly snatched breaths and some wear on the tone) makes listening something of a regretful pleasure.
But towards the end of the cycle, with ‘Kommt dir manchmal in den Sinn’, either the strength of her personality has made us forget, or she really has come through to vocal form. It is as though the years have dropped away and, with a touch of inspired emotion in the broad melody (‘Tausch mich nicht, verlass mich nicht’), the voice regains its radiance. Then she returns to Schubert with a heavenly lightness in An den Mond and back to Brahms with a joyfully clangorous Der Schmied.
That was all one day’s work: 14 songs on June 26, 1947. The collection then takes in some oddities, including Christmas carols, Irving Berlin’s God Bless America and Molloy’s Kerry Dance. Best of them is Schumann’s ‘Traumerei’ arranged as a vocalise, sung with fine responsiveness to the developing melody and harmonies; it also shows the groundwork of her singing, her well- preserved legato. There is more Schubert, too – an enchanting Der Jungling an der Quelle and a harrowing Erlkonig. Best of all, perhaps, are some surprises from the 1949 session, the two gentle songs by Reynaldo Hahn.
This is one of those records that revolve in the mind long after it has stopped playing. And, talking of playing, a further salute is owed to Paul Ulanowsky, whose accompaniments have skill, spirit and insight matching the singer’s own.'