, July 2007
On this, the fourth volume in Naxos’s series with Lotte Lehmann’s Lieder recordings, we meet her during five recording sessions and in spite of her being 53 at the time her voice is in mint condition and her insight is second to none. As before the songs are presented chronologically in the order they were recorded, except for the Wesendonck songs, which were split over two sessions and not recorded in the order they were published, but the producer, Walter Andrews, rightly wanted them to be heard together. For some inexplicable reason only two of them were published on 78 rpms and of the Wolf songs none at all. Having sung Wagner all her life she was better suited for these songs than most other sopranos and she sings them as well as any other recorded version I have heard. She also catches the varying moods of the Wolf songs to perfection, the nervously rushing Wer tat deinem Füsslein weh? perhaps the most remarkable.
Even better is her Brahms. Die Mainacht is dark and husky, the three songs from Deutsche Volkslieder (tr. 2, 7 and 8) light and warm and especially Feinsliebchen (tr. 2) is cajoled and coloured with obvious relish. An die Nachtigall is light, Auf dem Kirchhofe forceful and darkly brooding in the beginning, inward and filled resigned towards the end, sung with perfect legato. Wie bist du, meine Königin? is light and warm, Sonntag girlish and joyful, Wiegenlied simple and unaffected and, best of all, the beautiful contemplation on the moonlit nightscape of Ständchen.
The six Wiener Lieder, which conclude the disc, are sung with true affection and, having had to leave the Austrian capital three years earlier, the city, not of her dreams but of her life for so many years, there had to a large dose of nostalgia involved. Wien, du stadt meiner Träume, also a great favourite of Birgit Nilsson’s, who regularly sang it on her recitals, is sung with a light lilt and especially the reprise of the refrain is enticing. Unfortunately there is some distortion here and in the following song. Im Prater blüh’n wieder die Bäume is lovely and she caresses the slow melody in Heut’ macht die Welt, which may be a totally unknown song by Johann Strauss but in reality it is the well-known first waltz theme from Kaiser-Walzer, which Nico Dostal has adapted and amended.
Some readers may already own this compilation, since it was previously released on Romophone. Those who didn’t buy it then shouldn’t hesitate this time and they should also start saving up for the next volume in this series which will be due before long.
In short: some of the best Lieder singing from a golden era and the charming Viennese songs are sung with just as much feeling as the rest.