Bruno Walter; Hilde Gueden, Maureen Forrester (Archipel 0512)
Item# C1225
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Bruno Walter; Hilde Gueden, Maureen Forrester (Archipel 0512)
C1225. BRUNO WALTER Cond. NYPO, w.Maureen Forrester & Richard Lewis: Das Lied von der Erde (Mahler), Live Performance, 16 April, 1960, Carnegie Hall; Walter Cond. Vienna Phil., w.Hilde Güden: 3 Mahler Songs, Live Performance, 6 Nov., 1955. (Germany) Archipel 0512. Final copies. - 4035122405125

CRITIC REVIEWS:

“Hilde Güden made her début at the Vienna Volksoper in Benatzky’s operetta HERZEN IM SCHNEE. Her operatic début was at the opera house of Zürich where she appeared as Cherubino. Although the soprano was of Jewish origin it was Clemens Krauss who engaged her to the Munich State Opera, but she was soon forced to leave Germany. Tullio Serafin gave her the opportunity to sing in Rome and Florence. It was not until after the end of the war that she was allowed to return to the Munich State Opera where she remained an admired member until 1973. She gained great success abroad, at La Scala, Covent Garden, at the Grand Opéra de Paris, at the Glyndebourne Festival (Despina, Zerlina), at the Teatro La Fenice, the Maggio musicale di Fiorentino, and last but not least, at the Met, where she sang from 1951 until 1965. One of her greatest achievements was Rosalinde in Johann Strauss’ DIE FLEDERMAUS. At the Salzburg Festival she regularly appeared as Cherubino (1947, 1952, 1953), Zdenka, Zerlina (1946), Sophie (1949, 1953, 1960), Norina (1952), Aminta in DIE SCHWEIGSAME FRAU (1959), Zerbinetta (1954), the Countess Almaviva (1963 - 1966), Anne Truelove in Stravinsky’s THE RAKE’S PROGRESS and as Julia in the first performance of Boris Blacher’s ROMEO UND JULIA (1950). Hilde Güden was a versatile singer, equally successful in operettas, lieder and oratorio work. She was considered as one of the most accomplished Mozart and Strauss singers of the time and was a much admired member of the so-called ‘Wiener Mozart Ensemble’. On 1 May 1945, before World War II was officially ended, the Vienna State Opera resumed operations with a performance of Mozart’s LE NOZZE DI FIGARO under Josef Krips. Hilde Güden was one of the brightest Viennese stars and one of Decca’s busiest artists during the ‘50s and ‘60s. As a lyric and coloratura soprano she enjoyed remarkable success.

Hilde Güden’s voice was a high soprano of silvery gleam and youthful shining. It was very responsive to coloraturas as well as to cantilenas (essential for Richard Strauss), and it was of a highly individual timbre. If you want to experience Güden’s charming personality, play her magnificent recordings of Richard Strauss or her ravishing operetta recordings. She was the ideal Sophie, Zerbinetta, Zdenka, Daphne, Aminta - and, she is still unequalled as Rosalinde!”

- Andrea Shum-Binder, subito-cantabile

“Hilde Güden was among the extraordinary young Mozart/Strauss singers who emerged from Vienna immediately after WWII and who dominated Mozart performance well into the 1960s. Güden's considerable ease in the top register destined her to sing the lighter roles of Richard Strauss and she made a mark in operetta as well, achieving celebrity in the works of Johann Strauss, Lehár, and others. She was a trim, sparkling personality on stage; as a Decca artist, she left numerous recordings of her best roles.

With the Anschluss, Güden escaped to Switzerland where she auditioned for the Zürich Opera. Engaged on the spot, Güden made her début in 1939 as Cherubino in LE NOZZE DI FIGARO. Numerous other roles came in the aftermath of her success and she remained in Zürich for two years. Family matters called her back to Vienna in 1941 and, finding herself unable to leave her home country, she accepted an engagement in Munich where she appeared first with conductor Clemens Krauss as Zerlina in DON GIOVANNI. Composer Richard Strauss attended a performance of COSÌ FAN TUTTE and, struck by the beauty and splendid vocal resources of the young singer, urged Güden to study the role of Sophie in his DER ROSENKAVALIER. After taking his advice, Güden made her Italian début as Sophie at the Rome Opera in December 1942. Given her intense dislike for the Nazi regimes in both Austria and Germany, Gueden elected to remain in Italy. When the Nazis occupied that country, she simply withdrew from performing for the duration of the war, seeking shelter first in Venice, then in a rural town near Milan.

Following the conclusion of hostilities, Güden returned to Austria and was invited to the Salzburg Festival in 1946 where she débuted in the signature role of Zerlina. That same year, she was engaged by the Vienna Staatsoper where she remained a treasured artist until 1973. In 1947, she sang at Covent Garden for the first time and, in 1951, she began a relationship with the Metropolitan Opera which lasted for nine seasons and embraced more than 100 performances in 13 roles. For the Metropolitan, she created the role of Anne Truelove in Stravinsky's THE RAKE'S PROGRESS in a production coming shortly after the work's Venice premiere. Among other roles in New York, Güden sang both Musetta and Mimì in LA BOHÈME, Zerlina, Susanna, Sophie, Zdenka, and Rosalinde.

At Salzburg, Gueden offered a saucy performance of the title role in Strauss' DIE SCHWEIGSAME FRAU in 1959, and, in Vienna, a radiant Daphne in 1964, both productions captured on disc. Her cherishable Sophie was preserved on commercial recording under Erich Kleiber.”

- Erik Eriksson, allmusic.com

“Maureen Forrester, the Canadian contralto who was revered for her opulent voice and musical elegance and especially acclaimed for her performances of Mahler, sang the broader mezzo-soprano repertory, rightly considered herself a contralto, the lowest and rarest female voice. In her prime she was a classic contralto with a plummy, deep-set sound. Yet she had a full-bodied upper voice and could sing passagework in Handel arias with agility. She sang Mahler and German lieder with impeccable diction.

Ms. Forrester was little known in the United States when she made her New York recital début at Town Hall in November 1956 with the pianist John Newmark, who became her longtime accompanist. She won rave reviews. ‘Miss Forrester has a superb voice of generous compass and volume’,”Edward Downes wrote in The New York Times. ‘Its color ranges from a darkly resonant chest register to a brilliantly focused top with a middle register that she makes velvet soft or reedy according to her expressive intent’. At the time, the conductor Bruno Walter, who had been a close associate of Mahler’s, was looking for a contralto to sing in a performance and a recording of Mahler’s ‘Resurrection’ Symphony with the New York Philharmonic. He invited Ms. Forrester, then 27, to sing for him, and hired her. The recording is now considered a classic. Ms. Forrester went on to record Mahler’s DAS LIED VON DER ERDE with Walter and soon became an acknowledged exponent of Mahler. She was best known for her recital work and performances with orchestras and appeared with many leading conductors, including Eugene Ormandy, Herbert von Karajan and Leonard Bernstein.

Though not initially drawn to opera, she went on to sing numerous roles, including Gluck’s Orfeo, Verdi’s Ulrica, the Stepmother in Massenet’s CENDRILLON and the title role in Menotti’s MEDIUM. She made her New York City Opera début on opening night in 1966 in the historic production of Handel’s GIULIO CESARE, singing Cornelia to Beverly Sills’s Cleopatra. She gave only 14 performances at the Metropolitan Opera, all in 1975, singing Wagner’s Erda in DAS RHEINGOLD (her début) and SIEGFRIED, part of a RING cycle, and Ulrica in UN BALLO IN MASCHERA.

Maureen Forrester was born on 25 July, 1930, in a predominantly French-speaking section of Montréal, the youngest of four children of a cabinetmaker and his wife, he of Scottish heritage and she of Irish. She began singing with church and radio choirs but dropped out of school at 13 - partly out of boredom, she said in her 1986 autobiography - and took on odd jobs. She earned the nickname 'Big Mo' playing basketball in the neighborhood. In her late teens she began studying voice seriously, eventually making strides with the Dutch baritone Bernard Diamant. Her début with the Montréal Symphony came in 1953, followed by her début with the Toronto Symphony in 1954 and a Paris début the next year.

At the peak of her career Ms. Forrester sang some 120 performances a year. Still, she made time to teach, becoming the chairwoman of the voice department at the Philadelphia Music Academy in 1966, a position she held for five years.

As a performer, teacher and, during the 1980s, the chairwoman of the Canada Council for the Arts, Ms. Forrester championed Canadian composers. ‘I have a real feeling about modern composers’, she said in the Globe interview. ‘I go around preaching to young people that the performer is the mouth of the composer. You must see that the composers in your country get a hearing. When I travel and do recitals, I always program a big piece of Canadian music’. For a recital at the 92nd Street Y in Manhattan in the mid-1980s, she performed one standard repertory work, Schumann’s ‘Liederkreis’ song cycle, and devoted the rest of the program to the Canadian composers Michael Conway Baker, Srul Irving Glick and Malcolm Forsyth.

Before her [health] decline, however, Ms. Forrester appeared in musical theater productions, especially enjoying a run as Bloody Mary in a production of SOUTH PACIFIC in Edmonton. She made some 130 recordings during her career, including one that documents the City Opera production of GIULIO CESARE.”

- Anthony Tommasini, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 17 June, 2010