|About this Recording
8.111095 - LEHMANN, Lotte: Lieder Recordings, Vol. 4 (1941)
Lotte Lehmann (1888-1976)
In some ways the recordings that Lotte Lehmann made for American Columbia, between 1941 and 1942, represent the apex of her art as regards Lieder. By 1947, when she returned to Victor, though her interpretative powers were, of course, intact, the voice had lost some of its bloom. In 1941 when she was 53, her tone retained its old refulgence, while her knowledge of the repertory and her ability to go to the heart of each song she undertook is as heart-warming as it is on her earlier Victor discs, 1935-40. Then, in the United States, particularly at her home in Santa Barbara, she seemed to have found a new repose, reflecting her pleasure at being away from the storm and strife of war-torn Europe. As she wrote in the foreword to her book on interpretation of song, More than Singing (1945): " America, that wonderful country to which I now feel that I belong, has during this bitter time of war never forgotten that this German art (i.e. Lieder) stands above the confusion of the present time." That book is an appropriate source of inspiration for these notes as Lehmann makes revelatory comments on a great deal of the repertory included here, a distillation of the best of the American Columbia series (The second volume of the 1941-42 American Columbia recordings will be released on Naxos 8.111096).
Brahms was a composer peculiarly suited to Lehmann's generous approach. For ' Die Mainacht' she writes that the singer is "a lonely and miserable soul, disgusted and disillusioned by life and love". The voice must be dark and veiled. She also enjoins: "Don't rob this song of its grandeur through a weak sentimentality". In ' Auf dem Kirchhofe', one of Brahms's most deeply felt songs, she rightly points out the amazing change of mood from thoughts about the transitory nature of life at the beginning, to be sung "with great force and an expression of helpless despair", to the expression of calm and resignation that fills the final section in the major. She sings the word " genesen ", on her own suggestion, as "a deep sigh of release". In ' Wir wandelten' her tone and approach are quite different, as befits its happy recollections, and she closes this lovely song as she states "with a rapturous climax, in a broad ritardando ". In Eric Sams's book on Brahms's songs (OUP) he comments that this "Must be the song of songs for all devoted platonic lovers". Many of the other Brahms songs she comments on she had already recorded for Victor, but in the remainder of this issue - most notably ' Wie bist du, meine Königin' - she is her customary outgoing, spontaneous self.
Of the four Wolf songs - none of them issued on 78rpm discs - comments in the book are restricted to ' Gesang Weylas'. Lehmann avers: "In singing this whole song you should be moved by deep and noble feelings." She says that the word " Kind " should be sung with an inner trembling. "Sing it with a broad exaltation, carefully, with a caressing delight". She is as good as her word. Evidence of her ability completely to change her tone is shown by this and the next song: a frothy piece in which she replaces her dark, intense tone with something fresher and brighter, a smile in her voice.
Lehmann does not comment in her book on Wagner's Wesendoncklieder. She recorded four of them, each a treasurable performance. Only two appeared in 78rpm form, so their appearance here is of particular importance. To them she brings all the benefits of singing Wagner on stage throughout her career, all her identification with the mood of the music in hand. ' Träume', with its velvet, sensual tone and response to the text, is particularly affecting. In her book Lehmann comments: "You must yourself feel deeply what you are singing, must draw your audience with you into the flow of emotion, you and your listeners must be one in the enjoyment of what you give." That is as true here as in everything she undertook.
In the final group, Lehmann evokes the Vienna she loved so much and had to leave three years earlier. Here, in freewheeling mood, she sings with a smiling charm that is irresistible in praising the many charms of the city, her adopted home. As in all these Columbias, she seems in her best voice and to be enjoying herself as much as she undoubtedly did on the recital platform.
© Alan Blyth
BRAHMS: Die Mainacht, Op. 43, No. 2
BRAHMS: Feinsliebchen, du sollst mir nicht barfuss geh'n - Volkslied
BRAHMS: An die Nachtigall, Op. 46, No. 4
BRAHMS: Auf dem Kirchhofe, Op. 105, No. 4
BRAHMS: Wie bist du, meine Königin, Op. 32, No. 9
BRAHMS: Wir wandelten, Op. 96, No. 2
BRAHMS: Erlaube mir, fein's Mädchen - Volkslied
BRAHMS: Da unten im Tale - Volkslied
BRAHMS: Sonntag, Op. 47, No. 3
BRAHMS: O liebliche Wangen, Op. 47, No. 4
BRAHMS: Wiegenlied, Op. 49, No. 4
BRAHMS: Ständchen, Op. 106, No. 1
WAGNER: Wesendoncklieder (selections)
WOLF: Zur Ruh, zur Ruh
WOLF: Gesang Weylas
WOLF: Wer tat deinem Füsslein weh?
SIECZYNSKI: Wien, du Stadt meiner Träume
Ernst ARNOLD: Da draussen in der Wachau
STOLZ: Im Prater blüh'n wieder die Bäume
LEOPOLDI: Wien, sterbende Märchenstadt
BENATZKY: Ich muss wieder einmal in Grinzing sein
J. STRAUSS II (arr. DOSTAL): Heut' macht die Welt Sonntag für mich
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