Lotte Lehmann sings Lieder

Author: 
Alan Blyth

Lotte Lehmann sings Lieder

  • (5) Lieder, No. 3, Das Mädchen spricht (wds. Gruppe)
  • (49) Deutsche Volkslieder, Mein Mädel hat einen Rosenmund
  • Im Abendrot
  • (Der) Jüngling an der Quelle
  • An die Nachtigall
  • Nacht und Träume
  • An die Musik
  • Liederkreis, No. 3, Waldesgespräch
  • Liederkreis, No. 12, Frühlingsnacht
  • Myrthen, No. 24, Du bist wie eine Blume (wds. Heine)
  • Italienisches Liederbuch, 'Italian Songbook', Nun lass uns Frieden schliessen
  • Italienisches Liederbuch, 'Italian Songbook', Und willst du deinen Liebsten
  • Mörike Lieder, Der Knabe und das Immlein
  • (8) Lieder aus Letzte Blätter, No. 7, Die Zeitlose
  • (6) Lieder aus Lotusblättern, No. 1, Wozu noch, Mädchen, soll es Frommen
  • Schlichte Weisen, No. 2, Du meines Herzens Krönelein
  • Vierge d'Athénes
  • D'une prison
  • Infidélité
  • (L') Enamourée
  • (La) Vie antérieure
  • Psyché
  • My native land
  • Midsummer
  • Tonerna (Visions)
  • Drink to me only with thine eyes
  • Canto di primavera
  • Fa la nana, bambin
  • Do not chide me
  • Schlafe, mein süsses Kind
  • (5) Lieder, No. 3, Das Mädchen spricht (wds. Gruppe)
  • (49) Deutsche Volkslieder, Mein Mädel hat einen Rosenmund
  • Im Abendrot
  • (Der) Jüngling an der Quelle
  • An die Nachtigall
  • Nacht und Träume
  • An die Musik
  • Liederkreis, No. 3, Waldesgespräch
  • Liederkreis, No. 12, Frühlingsnacht
  • Myrthen, No. 24, Du bist wie eine Blume (wds. Heine)
  • Italienisches Liederbuch, 'Italian Songbook', Nun lass uns Frieden schliessen
  • Italienisches Liederbuch, 'Italian Songbook', Und willst du deinen Liebsten
  • Mörike Lieder, Der Knabe und das Immlein
  • (8) Lieder aus Letzte Blätter, No. 7, Die Zeitlose
  • (6) Lieder aus Lotusblättern, No. 1, Wozu noch, Mädchen, soll es Frommen
  • Schlichte Weisen, No. 2, Du meines Herzens Krönelein
  • Vierge d'Athénes
  • D'une prison
  • Infidélité
  • (L') Enamourée
  • (La) Vie antérieure
  • Psyché
  • My native land
  • Midsummer
  • Tonerna (Visions)
  • Drink to me only with thine eyes
  • Canto di primavera
  • Fa la nana, bambin
  • Do not chide me
  • Schlafe, mein süsses Kind

Comparatively few items from Lehmann's vast discography (scrupulously compiled by Floris Juynboll as an appendix to Alan Jefferson's Lotte Lehmann; Julia Macrae: 1988) have ever been generally available in this country, either on 78rpm or LP, and many have had a shortish life in the catalogue. The operatic part of her career can be followed in the various issues from Preiser/Harmonia Mundi, but the many discs of songs made in the United States by RCA Victor and American Columbia from 1935 onwards have always been hard to come by, so RCA are doing Lehmann enthusiasts—and who, once having heard her can be anything but an enthusiast?—a considerable service by this issue. Indeed, W. R. Moran, who compiled it, has had the wit to seek out discs that must be great rarities even across the Atlantic.
When engaged on a study of Duparc and Hahn on record, nobody could find for me the Lehmann recordings of the melodies happily unearthed here. As Juynboll avers, her ''pronunciation of the French language leaves much to be desired'', yet few French singers pierce the heart as she does in Duparc's La vie anterieure—its climax achieved with amazing ease for a singer in her sixtyyear or Hahn's Infidelite and D'une prison, a simple setting I have always preferred to Faure's. Two of these three items were recorded at Lehmann's final sessions in 1949, when she seems to have been in fresher voice than on any of the recordings made over the previous ten years included here. The Strauss songs made six days later confirm the good state of her singing in March of that year.
The disc opens with four extreme rarities, all marvellous examples of Lehmann's voice and art so outgoing and sincere. Neither the Cimara or Sadero, recorded in 1936, have ever been published before. In the first her tone rings out freely; in the second, Fa la nana, bambin, a delicate lullaby, she uses her warm lower register gently to lull the boy to sleep—it's a memorable piece of singing. Her version of Gounod's Vierge d'Athenes (also unpublished), a Byron setting, may not be as seductive as Hahn's version of similar date, but it has that special Lehmann eagerness and spontaneity. Then the interpretation of the lovely Psyche, another 1949 recording, seems as idiomatic as any French singer's. Another unpublished item is the 1936 Do not chide me, a quasi-popular song by her accompanist of the time, Erno Balogh; it is given the benefit of all the Lehmann generosity.
Most of the Lieder records were issued here by HMV at the time they were made, and have been reissued on RCA Victrola or Camden LPs, so they are more familiar, but no less welcome. Lehmann's breath control, as we know, was often faulty, and became more so as her voice lost some of its bloom around 1939. But who cares when she reaches so unerringly to the heart of the matter nowhere more so than in Schumann's Du bist wie eine Blume. The 1947 recordings of Schubert were new to me. I particularly recommend a subtle account of Der Jungling an der Quelle. Throughout the use of words is wonderfully keen, as always with this singer. Ulanowsky, who became the soprano's accompanist in 1939, is a more perceptive partner than Balogh.
The transfers are remarkably natural and clear, catching all the unique quality of Lehmann's tone. Philip Miller, in his succinct note, quotes Leo Slezak on the singer: ''She had the secret, the only secret we have … the heart''. I wish here, and in other RCA booklets accompanying their historical issues, more details had been given on the origins of the discs concerned, but that's a small drawback to a CD that has 30 items lasting 74 minutes—and which must give pleasure to both those who know and those who come fresh to Lehmann's art.'

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