A Ljuba Welitsch Recital; Brahms Liebeslieder-Walzer



The original badly flawed Welitsch sources, dating from 1947-8, have been so carefully reprocessed from the radio recordings that they now sound “tolerable”, at least to the sleeve note writer. But not even that modest claim would be advanced on behalf of these lied interpretations, save by the diva's devotees. The Brahms Zigeunerlieder and the Schubert Im Walde sound quite unidiomatic, indeed unpractised in both senses; in particular, the expressive appoggiaturas in d834 are hopelessly misconstrued throughout. On this showing the language of German song is best left in the hands of such able exponents as Ernest Lush and Frederick Stone respec­tively. The Joseph Marx group, however, (Folge I/11, 24, 25, 28; II/3) offers the added interest of the composer's own accompani­ment and no doubt the benefit of his advice; at least there are no overt solecisms.

     Even so, the less advertised 1947 flip-side strikes me as the better value. Irmgard Seefried and Hans Hotter are in lustrous voice; Elisabeth Höngen sings agreeably; there are some quite eloquent moments. Yet this offering too is fatally flawed. The four duetting hands of Friedrich Wührer and Hermann von Nordberg are hardworking hut too mechanical. while EMI's omission of any comment on the tenor is an apt if inadvertent assessment of his performance. Meyer Welfing, like his near-namesake in the king, is powerless in the presence of Wotan. From both sides, then, this looks to me like a disc aimed mainly at the discophile, not to say the discard pile. EMI themselves clearly feel that there's no point in bothering to supply texts and translations. No doubt this apathy on the part of the Retrospect Series will be duly noted, and reciprocated, by the prospective purchaser.          


The Musical Times, Jun. 1981 (p.394) © the estate of eric sams, 1981