LEHÁR & CO
Richard Tauber (ten); Vera Schwarz (sop);
Carlotta Vanconti (sop);
Jarmila Novotna (sop);
Franz Lehár, cond;
Various unnamed O
PREISER 90802, mono (76:00)
“Als flotter Geist.”
Eine Nacht in Venedig: “
Treu sein, das liegt mir nicht.”
“Dieser Anstand, so manierlich.”
Die lustige Witwe:
“Vilija-Lied; Lippen schweigen.”
“Hab ein blaues Himmelbett.”
“O Mädchen, mein Mädchen.”
Das Land des Lächelns:
“Dein ist mein ganzes Herz” (2 vers).
“Gern hab ich die Frau’n geküsst.”
“Allein…Es steht ein Soldat am Wolgastrand;”
“Kosende Wellen…Warum hat jeder Frühling.”
“Freunde, das Leneb ist lebenswert;”
“Schön wie die blau Sommernacht”.
“Grüß mir mein Wien.”
“Wenn man das Leben…Zwei Märchenaugen.”
“Wie mein Ahn’l zwanzig Jahr.”
“Da draußen im duftenden Garten.”
“Im chambre séparée.”
“Küssen ist keine Sünd’.”
“Die Liebe kommt, die Liebe geht.”
Wien, du Stadt meiner Träume.
Here’s a new release of old material by Preiser of which I think the label’s founder, Wilhelm Schwarze, might not have approved, as it basically retreads old material that has come out countless times before. And, in a way, I feel rather badly for Tauber that he
seems to be remembered and marketed as an operetta/crossover artist when in fact he was a much more versatile singer. His operatic records, which Preiser (on its famed “Lebendige Vergangenheit” series) has issued in the past, are of an exceptionally high order and still have much to teach us as to how to sing traditional opera repertoire with charm and elegance without resorting to the “loosey-goosey” style of turn-of-the-century Italian bel canto singers, and he was also an exceptionally sensitive and musical singer of Lieder. I’m sure that many
readers don’t even know that Tauber recorded half the songs in Schubert’s
or that those recordings received the highest possible praise from Herman Klein in
when they came out. Klein, and the rest of the world, kept waiting for the other shoe to drop, but unfortunately Tauber, possibly because he needed the money, and recording operetta and pop-schlock material was so much easier, never got around to completing the cycle.
That being said, this release does give us a handful of items that EMI did not include in their Tauber CD of the early 1990s. Among these are the acoustic recordings of excerpts from
Eine Nacht in Venedig, Frasquita,
(EMI issued the electrical version of the latter), the very early (1925) electrical version of the
tune, and the rather offbeat operettas of Eysler (
) and Marischka, who apparently adapted tunes by Fritz Kreisler for Tauber’s voice in an operetta titled
Considering how many Tauber reissues have been around on both LP and CD since the mid 1950s, I’m fairly sure these were reissued previously, but to the best of my knowledge they are not currently on anyone else’s Tauber CDs.
The thing to remember about late 1920s-early 1930s operetta is that, although it was an enormously popular form of entertainment, it was largely a “retro” style for that era, much like the violin bonbons of Kreisler, the equally popular operettas of Sigmund Romberg, and even the popularity in America during the 1930s of Wayne King’s waltz-oriented big band. All of these forms of entertainment were essentially geared towards a then-older audience who couldn’t understand and didn’t like Jazz Age pop or, worse yet (for them), the onslaught of the much more jazz-oriented swing music. Ironically, the music also provided a great deal of comfort to Teutons and Anglo-Saxons during the angst-ridden years of the Nazi atrocities and World War II. Since Tauber was half-Jewish, he was banned and then driven out of his homeland, and though he found a welcome mat and open artistic arms in Great Britain—not to mention his wife, Diana Napier—he was never really quite as comfortable in his transplanted home as he had been in Germany. One other interesting track on this CD is the very last one, part of a broadcast that Lehár gave of his music from Zurich on June 5, 1946. Tauber surprised his old friend by flying over and performing in it. The item reproduced here is a polyglot performance of “Dein ist mein ganzes Herz.” Taber sings the first verse in English, the bridge in German, and the second verse in a very strange-sounding Italian (at least I think it’s Italian, though the only word I made out clearly was “lontan”).
The reproductions used here are fairly typical for Preiser: forward and clean if somewhat dry-sounding, most of the surface noise removed but with a little grit left in. I do disagree, however, with the statement made in the liner notes that “In recent decades Tauber has become even more celebrated than he was immediately after his death.” That is very much an overstatement. I knew several German expatriates who were able to leave their native land during the Nazi era, for whom the recordings of Tauber and Joseph Schmidt were treasures beyond compare, even right after the war, among them the late George Jellinek who played him frequently on WQXR (a radio station that, I believe, should make it its business to revive the hundreds of hours of tapes of Jellinek’s “Vocal Scene” radio program and re-air them). Perhaps only in America, where Tauber was very much liked but not actually beloved, was there a brief lapse in adoration, although by the 1960s the reissues of his recordings on LPs introduced an entirely new generation to the glories of his singing. Recommended, then, for the unusual items mentioned above.
Lynn René Bayley