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MOZART, Emmy Loose, Wilma Lipp

Die Entfuhrung aus dem Serail - 1950 - Josef Krips

  • 1. Act 1: Overture
  • 2. Act 1: Hier soll ich dich denn schen
  • 3. Act 1: Wer ein Liebchen hat gefunden
  • 4. Act 1: Solche hergelauf'ne Laffen
  • 5. Act 1: Konstanze!....O wie angstlich
  • 6. Act 1: Singt dem grossen Bassa Lieder
  • 7. Act 1: Ach, ich liebte
  • 8. Act 1: Marsch, marsch, marsch!
  • 9. Act 2: Introduction....Durch Zartlichkeit
  • 10. Act 2: Ich gehe, doch rate ich dir
  • 11. Act 2: Welcher Kummer....Trauigkeit
  • 12. Act 2: Martern aller Arten
  • Disc: 2
  • 1. Act 2: Introduction...Welche Wonne, welche Lust
  • 2. Act 2: Frisch zum Kampfe
  • 3. Act 2: Vivat Bacchus!
  • 4. Act 2: Ach Belmonte! Ach mien Leben! (quartet)
  • 5. Act 2: Wenn der Freude Tranen fliessen
  • 6. Act 3: Im Mohrenland gefangen war
  • 7. Act 3: O wie will ich triumpheren
  • 8. Act 3: Welche'in Geschick!....Meinetwegen sollst du sterben
  • 9. Act
  • Emmy Loose - soprano
  • Wilma Lipp - soprano

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Mozart's Die Entfuhrung aus dem Serail was first performed on 16 July 1782 at Vienna's Burgtheater. In this classic set it returns to the city with an all-Viennese cast, conductor, and orchestra. Krips' 1950 Die Entfuhrung aus dem Serail is often cited as the first LP opera. Certainly in England the three-LP set would have been the first sign of the great renaissance that was taking place in the recording industry thanks to the introduction of tape, which would prove of such enduring value to opera lovers the world over. It was part of a vast surge in recording, a significant part of which was situated in Vienna and was considerably boosted by the enterprise and sheer devotion of Decca at the time. The company was soon making the first studio recording of Wagner's massive Die Meistersinger von Nurnherg in the city with the same orchestra, the Vienna Philharmonic, with which it enjoyed an exclusive contract (the spate of preferential arrangements with Viennese musicians owed much to impoverished post-war conditions). Looking at record releases of the late 1940s and early 1950s, it is not in the least bit surprising that Die Entfuhrung should have been so honoured. Almost every month brought new snippets from the enduringly popular work (doubtless many who had never seen or heard it complete would have included numerous extracts in their vocal collections). 1950 saw the release of Schwarzkopf singing 'Welcher Kummer herrscht' on a 78 also under the direction of Krips. A month later and Ludwig Weber could be heard in Osmin's'Wer ein Liebchen', and at the time the LPs appeared we encounter a far from endearing Paghughi in `Martern aller Arten'_ As Glyndebourne would attest, Mozart's ravishing Singspiel had a sizeable audience. In spite of the evident pleasure writers of the time took in having an opera set in the new format and an opera that had not been recorded complete before for commercial release, there was some disaffection. Nobody could find much wrong with Krips - unremarkably - but the cast was cleemed rather poor in places. Moreover, Decca was faulted for a recording that placed the singers too far forward and had the orchestra recessed. The Earl of Harewood was in no mood to mince words: he accused the sound of an `indeterminate hoarseness' and accused the engineers of a 'placing of the microphone I sic. J, which seems arranged to take a clinical record of the movement of singers' uvulas rather than oftheir musical projection of the work'. Only Wilma Lipp, he felt, was really distinguished enough vocally. One wonders now whether some of the complaints about the sound were not due to the novelty of the format and concomitant playback systems. Or is it simply that critics didn't have access to Roger Beardsley's subtle and eminently listenable-to transfer that we have in this set? Played on good equipment with suitable tweaking for the age and manner in which the recording was made (taken from original LPs rather than ageing and precarious master tapes) we find a satisfying, well-integrated sound that now seems far kinder to the singers than was suggested back then. To be sure, the orchestra isn't in your face, but neither would it be in the theatre if one were, say, a few rows back in the dress circle. Where orchestral detail is needed, as in Mozart's quite amazing concertante writing in `Martern aller Arten', it is clear as crystal, but in an unforced, uncluttered manner. Unforced is surely the quality that is most admirable in this set. And if that comes with a `dull' connotation, forget it. So many recordings of this opera can literally induce boredom because the conductors can't make the music move properly. They may take fast tempos on occasions, but somehow the spark for them doesn't come from within: it is imposed simply by waggling the stick more briskly and forcing players and singers to conform. The ability to obtain real momentum and vitality from Mozart's rhythms is in the gift of just a handful of great conductors, and Krips is undoubtedly one of them. He phrases with warmth, adopts almost always exactly the right tempo in every number - never too slow and never rushed - and is generally so well in time with the modest `liberties' taken by the singers that one rapidly ceases to be aware of the skill involved and takes for the granted the presence of the Vienna Philharmonic as an exceedingly well-fitting and comfortable glove around the singers. His differentiation of slurs and staccato in Belmonte's `Konstanze, Konstanze' manages to be both affectionate and economical, for he does no more than the music needs. This is great conducting. Harewood's evocation of it as `delicate but manly' sounds inadequate now. Wilma Lipp's Konstanze was always well regarded. 'There was some disquiet over the similarity of her voice to Emmy Loose (as Blonde). Presumably the vast, grand-opera arias Mozart lavished on the heroine had accustomed listeners to a larger, rather more dramatic voice for this music, and yet Lipp seems appropriate for the character of Konstanze. In Krips she has a willing accomplice for a rethink of the overall tone of `Ach, ich liebte' and `Martern aller Arten', which are played with flowing rhythms and somewhat lighter articulation than is often heard. The heroine consequently emerges as more youthful and impetuous, which is not at all a bad thing. Her singing is also deeply entrenched in the Viennese ensemble in which she was reared, as were virtually all the rest of the cast and orchestra. Loose came from the same stable and she makes liberal use of the Viennese portamento, the gentle, unexaggerated accents, and she achieves the same exquisite ensemble with those around her. Precision over some notes, especially high notes, was not high on her agenda, perhaps, but one wonders whether ease of delivery should always be hampered by absolute adherence to every pitch and note value. This may be a moot point, but Loose gives much pleasure in `Welche Wonne, welche Lust' where her musicality can be heard in alert, rhythmic singing with none of the dragging at bar lines heard in far too many recent performances. Only the pinching of some high notes gives pause for thought. The women are the great strength of this set, but we can now be more generous to Walther Ludwig's Belmonte. There is no doubt that other tenors of the time were sweeter and more fluent in the role, but not all of them had Ludwig's modestly heroic accent or contributed so empathically to the sum of the parts. Peter Klein is, it is true, a periodically inadequate Pedrillo, but Endre Koreh's Osmin may enjoy rehabilitation in this new transfer. One has to overlook poorly supported high notes in a few places and the odd stumble in the coloratura. If one is willing there is much to admire in the way he positions himself in ensembles and the lightness and delight he takes in Mozart's buffa style. Unlike EMI's Karajan Die Zauberfote from this time, Decca tried to make this a genuinely dramatic set. There are a few sound effects and a decent amount of spoken dialogue. Now, having given gratitude for its presence the temptation is to skip the dialogue on CD and move on to the next musical number, but it is acted in this set with such wonderful humour and pacing that for almost the first time one regrets the cuts. Blonde and Osmin are especially engaging together: here one really would like to hear more not less. 'there are a few cuts in musical numbers, some of which seem designed to save the singers from exhaustion, including two chunks out of `Martern aller Arten'.. No matter, this classic set radiates Viennese warmth in every bar. Even where there are obvious vocal shortcomings the precious contribution of individuals to a composite, integrated performance is never in doubt. ©2001 SIMON TREZISE