C0259. CARL SCHURICHT Cond. NDR S.O.: Symphony #4 in e (Brahms); w. CHRISTA LUDWIG: An die Hoffnung (Reger). Disques Refrain 930050. Very long out-of-print, Final Copy!
“Carl Schuricht was among the most distinguished German conductors of the inter- and post-War years. He studied composition with Engelbert Humperdinck at the Hochschule für Musik in Berlin, and then with Max Reger in Leipzig. He became music director in Wiesbaden in 1911 and elected to stay there until 1944. From this base he made frequent guest conducting appearances elsewhere and appeared at many summer music festivals. He was known for his interest in French music and other modern compositions, and frequently played music of Debussy, Ravel, Schönberg, and Stravinsky.
He toured abroad often, and made his first U.S. appearance in 1927. For many years he conducted annual summer concert series in Scheveningen, Holland, a resort town next to the capital city, The Hague. In recognition of this, the Dutch government gave him the Order or Orange-Nassau in 1938.
In 1942 he was appointed conductor of the Dresden Philharmonic Orchestra. He often opposed the Nazi government's policies, and in 1944 fled to Switzerland, where he resided thereafter. As many German conductors who had favored modern music in the inter-War years did, he settled firmly to the traditional symphonic repertory in the post-War years and thereafter became strongly associated with performances in the Romantic tradition, with rhythmic freedom and a smooth, beautiful and expressive sound.
He was chosen to conduct the re-opening, after the War, of the Salzburg Festival in Austria in 1946, and continued his frequent guest conducting appearances and associations with summer festivals, including the Ravinia Festival in Chicago and the Tanglewood Festival with the Boston Symphony Orchestra in Massachusetts. He often conducted the London Philharmonic and the BBC Symphony Orchestra. He was chosen to share conducting duties with André Cluytens when the Vienna Philharmonic made its first American tour in 1956. In later years he often took the podium with that orchestra and the Berlin Philharmonic and frequently conducted the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra.”
- Joseph Stevenson, allmusic.com
“Christa Ludwig, who poured a lustrous voice into dramatically taut performances of opera roles - especially those of Mozart, Strauss and Wagner - and intimately rendered art songs as one of the premier mezzo-sopranos of the second half of the 20th century, commanded a broad range of the great mezzo-soprano parts, including Dorabella in Mozart’s COSÌ FAN TUTTE, Cherubino in his LE NOZZE DI FIGARO, Octavian in Strauss’ DER ROSENKAVALIER, Bizet’s Carmen and numerous Wagner roles. Often, critics were reduced to calling her the greatest mezzo-soprano of her time. But like many mezzos, Ms. Ludwig strove to lay claim to higher-voiced - and higher-profile - soprano roles. So she took on, most successfully in that category, characters including the Marschallin in DER ROSENKAVALIER, the Dyer’s Wife in DIE FRAU OHNE SCHATTEN and Leonore in Beethoven’s FIDELIO. She was an equal master of the intimate song - especially the works of Brahms, Mahler and Schubert. Her artistry put her in the pantheon of postwar lieder singers that included Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Elly Ameling and Elisabeth Schwarzkopf.
Ms. Ludwig made her Metropolitan Opera debut as Cherubino (a trouser role, a type she said was not her favorite) in 1959, took on Octavian and Amneris in Verdi’s AIDA at the house that year as well and sang regularly at the Met until the end of her career. But onstage, Ms. Ludwig brought a striking combination of acting ability, charisma and vocal beauty. Her voice had range and power, a security through all the registers and a broad array of colors.
‘Her unmistakable, deep-purple timbre envelops the listener in a velvet cloak’, Roger Pines wrote in OPERA NEWS in 2018, reviewing her collected recordings. ‘She excelled equally in intimate, legato-oriented lieder and the largest-scale operatic repertoire, where her sound expanded with glorious brilliance’. Critics often took note of her wit and comic deftness, and a personality that could fill a hall even when she sang softly. ‘Her presence on the Met stage was a synthesis of the dramatic arts all by itself - her voice, her wonderfully natural diction and her shadings of facial expression and gesture all conspiring to express with great emotional breadth the singular message of this singular music’, THE NEW YORK TIMES critic Bernard Holland wrote of a ‘Winterreise’ performance in 1983. Ms. Ludwig sang that searing Schubert song cycle some 72 times, even though it was composed for a male voice.
She met the bass-baritone Walter Berry at the Vienna opera in 1957 when they were cast in LE NOZZE DI FIGARO. They married three months later and had a son, Wolfgang. The couple frequently appeared together in operas and joint recitals. In interviews, Ms. Ludwig said they felt occasional rivalry and were at odds in preparing for performances. The couple divorced in 1970, though they continued to perform together. (Mr. Berry died in 2000.) Soon after her divorce, Ms. Ludwig met the actor and stage director Paul-Emile Deiber while he was preparing a production of Massenet’s WERTHER at the Met, and they married in 1972. He died in 2011.
In the realm of song, critics took note of her sensitivity, smooth lines, intimacy, control and mastery of the text. ‘She is perhaps the reigning feminine expert at making us feel good about lonely teardrops and thwarted bliss’, THE TIMES critic Donal Henahan wrote in 1979.”
- Daniel J. Wakin, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 25 April, 2021