OP0380. DAS RHEINGOLD, Live Performance, 7 Aug., 1947, Buenos Aires, w.Kleiber Cond. Teatro Colï¿½n Ensemble; Herbert Janssen, Set Svanholm, Elsa Cavelti, Angel Mattiello, Emanual List, Fred Destal, etc. (Germany) 2-Gebhardt 0036. Long out-of-print, final copies! - 4035122000368
“Erich Kleiber decided to become a conductor while still a student at the Prague Conservatory after hearing Gustav Mahler conducting his Sixth Symphony. As choirmaster at the German Theater in Prague, he made his conducting début in 1911 directing the music for a stage comedy. A composer in his student years, his works include violin and piano concertos, orchestral and chamber works.
Following a series of appointments as conductor at Darmstadt, Barmen-Eberfeld, Düsseldorf, and Mannheim, he became general music director of the Berlin State Opera in 1923. In addition to the mainstream repertory, Kleiber introduced unfamiliar works such as Schönberg's PIERROT LUNAIRE, Janácek's JENUFA, Bittner's DAS ROSENGÄRTLEIN, and, after an astounding 132 rehearsals, gave the first U.S. performance of Berg's WOZZECK in 1924. His U.S. début as an orchestral conductor was with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra in 1930.
As conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra and a friend of Alban Berg, Kleiber was planning a Berlin performance of the five symphonic interludes from Berg's opera LULU, but, incensed by the Nazi regime's hostility to atonal music and growing political interference in his choice of programs, he resigned his Berlin post in 1934, left Germany, and appeared as guest conductor in London, Prague, Brussels, Buenos Aires, Amsterdam, and Salzburg. In 1939, Kleiber took up residence in Buenos Aires and became an Argentine citizen. He conducted opera at the Teatro Colón, trained the Buenos Aires Symphony Orchestra and toured extensively in South America with various orchestras. From 1943 he was with the Havana Philharmonic Orchestra, leaving for Europe in 1948.
In postwar Europe, Kleiber was ready to return to his roots. In 1951, he accepted the position of conductor at the Berlin State Opera, then located in the Communist sector of East Berlin, and from 1950 to 1953 conducted at London's Covent Garden opera house. Once again, however, he became dissatisfied with the atmosphere of repression and resigned his Berlin post in 1955. Before his relatively early death, he appeared as guest conductor of orchestras in London, Vienna, Cologne, Stuttgart, and other European centers.
Despite his early enthusiasm for twentieth century music, Kleiber is best remembered for minutely rehearsed and finely balanced interpretations of Beethoven, Mahler, and Bruckner. Even when in Berlin, where much of the Classical and Romantic repertory was familiar to the performers, he usually called five rehearsals before a concert. A perfectionist by nature, he insisted on complete faithfulness to the score. In his words, ‘[t]here are only two enemies of good performance: one is routine and the other improvisation’.
After his death, a performance by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra became available on CD, as did the ROSENKAVALIER he recorded in 1954.”
- Roy Brewer, allmusic.com
"Herbert Janssen - with his plangent, fine-grained voice, keen intelligence, aristocratic musicianship, and (not incidentally) handsome appearance - was the leading German baritone in several major theatres during the 1920s and 1930s. After study with Oskar Daniel in Berlin he was immediately accepted by Max von Schillings for the Berlin State Opera, where he made his debut in 1922 as Herod in Schreker's DER SCHATZGRABER . He remained at the Berlin State Opera until 1937 singing both lyric and dramatic roles, many of them in the Italian repertory. He later appeared in important productions of DER FLIEGENDE HOLLANDER and TRISTAN UND ISOLDE at Covent Garden conducted by Reiner and Beecham, also singing Orest / ELEKTRA and in 1935 taking the title role in Borodin's PRINCE IGOR, for which he was highly praised.
Janssen was a fixture at the Bayreuth Festival from 1930 to 1937. His Wolfram in TANNHAUSER set a standard not approached since, and, fortunately, it was recorded in a somewhat truncated 1930 production. During that decade, he established benchmarks for several Wagner roles, particularly Kurwenal, Telramund, Gunther, and - especially - Amfortas. His interpretation of the latter was an exquisitely sung realization of a soul in torment, achieving a remarkable unity of voice, movement, and makeup. His doggedly loyal Kurwenal is preserved on complete recordings of TRISTAN UND ISOLDE made live at Covent Garden in 1936 and 1937. His tortured Dutchman is also available in a live recording made at Covent Garden and featuring Kirsten Flagstad as Senta.
In addition to his stage work, Janssen acquired a reputation as a superior singer of Lieder. The exceptional beauty of his voice and his interpretive acuity made him a prime candidate for Walter Legge's Hugo Wolf Society venture of the 1930s. Among the finest singers Legge could pull together, Janssen was given the largest assignment and his subscription recordings made throughout the decade remain supreme, even in the face of the best achievements of post-war Lieder singers.
Janssen was very unpopular with the Nazi regime, having turned down a dinner invitation from Hitler at Bayreuth, Janssen left Germany in 1937 and with Toscanini's assistance traveled immediately to Buenos Aires. After a season in Argentina, he came to the United States where he made his debut at the Metropolitan Opera in 1939, remaining at that theater until his stage retirement in 1952.
From 1940 onwards Janssen sang regularly at Buenos Aires and with the San Francisco Opera between 1945 and 1951. Following his retirement in 1952, he remained in New York as a respected teacher.
Janssen's performances were notable for the warm and sympathetic timbre of his voice, his excellent command of legato and clear enunciation, as well as his convincing acting. Also a highly accomplished lieder singer, he had in addition starred in the musical DREI MUSKETIERE at the Metropol Theatre in Berlin during 1928 opposite Gota Ljungberg."
- Erik Eriksson, allmusic.com
ï¿½Svanholm made his dï¿½but in 1930 as a baritone, as Silvio in Leoncavalloï¿½s PAGLIACCI, and became a member of the Royal Operaï¿½s ensemble in 1932. All on his own, he began reworking his vocal technique to make the transition from baritone to tenor roles. He was a lyrical Italian baritone, known as ï¿½Kavalierbaritonï¿½ in German, and had always had an easy high register. One day he telephoned his old teacher John Forsell and announced that he had a promising new tenor that he would like to present ï¿½ and surprised Forsell by coming to the appointed meeting all on his own!
Svanholm made his dï¿½but as a tenor in February of 1936, as soloist in Beethovenï¿½s Ninth Symphony. His operatic dï¿½but followed on 22 September of the same year with Radames in Verdiï¿½s AIDA. In the fall of 1937 he began to sing Wagner, with Lohengrin as his first role. In a short time he added Siegmund in DIE WALKï¿½RE, Tannhï¿½user, Stolzing in DIE MEISTERSINGER VON Nï¿½RNBERG, and both Siegfrieds to his Wagnerian repertoire.
Kirsten Flagstad, the greatest Wagnerian soprano of the age, remarked in her memoirs: ï¿½For me there was only one Siegmund . . . that was Setï¿½. It is hard to disagree with her. The baritonal, metallic quality of Svanholmï¿½s voice was a perfect match for this role. A commercial recording from 1957 (Decca) of DIE WALKï¿½RE, Act I, also presents Svanholm at his very best and Flagstad as a surprisingly youthful and convincing Sieglinde ï¿½ at the age of 62!
Svanholmï¿½s career outside Sweden began in 1938, on the eve of World War II. Bruno Walter had heard him in Stockholm, and invited him to Vienna where he made his dï¿½but in LOHENGRIN. Performances in Germany, Austria, Zï¿½rich, Budapest and Prague soon followed. In 1942 he became the first Swede ever to sing at La Scala in Milan (TANNHï¿½USER) and, in the same year, became the only Swede to appear in a major role at the Kriegsfestspiele in Bayreuth. Many vocal artists from politically ï¿½neutralï¿½ Sweden sang in Germany during the war years: Jussi Bjï¿½rling, Sigurd Bjï¿½rling, Torsten Ralf, Sven Olof Sandberg, and Zarah Leander are names that come to mind. But apart from Leander, who was criticized severely after the war for her activities, Svanholm was probably the Swedish artist most active in the Third Reich during these years. He was a member of the ensemble of the Deutsche Staatsoper in Berlin and did not leave the German stages until 1944. There is no real indication that Svanholm was sympathetic to the political policies of the Nazi regime. One plausible explanation for his desire to remain in Germany was the opportunity of developing his interpretations of the great Wagnerian roles in collaboration with Heinz Tietjen, artistic director of the Bayreuther Festspiele from 1931 to 1944.
But Svanholm also had invitations from the Metropolitan, Chicago Lyric and San Francisco operas and in 1946 finally crossed the Atlantic for a glorious decade as the foremost Wagnerian tenor of the post-war era. Svanholmï¿½s trans-Atlantic career began in South America, where he sang Siegmund and Tristan in Rio de Janeiro. His dï¿½but at the Met was on 15 November, 1946 in the title role in Wagnerï¿½s SIEGFRIED. Svanholm was to remain under contract to the Met until 1956. The American critics and audiences saw Svanholm as the self-evident successor to Lauritz Melchior, who was nearing the end of his career. To an international public, Svanholm is recognized primarily as a great Wagnerian, but in fact, his repertoire, both in terms of art song and opera, was broad and diversified.
During his decade in the Americas Svanholm continued to sing at home and performed many roles from Italian and French repertoire, as well as Swedish rarities such as De Frumerieï¿½s SINGOALLA and Atterbergï¿½s FANAL. By 1956 he was weary of traveling, wanted to spend more time with his family, and thus accepted the position as General Manager of the Royal Opera in Stockholm.
In the aftermath of World War II Svanholmï¿½s main repertoire was, with a few exceptions, ignored by the major record companies. A Wagner ï¿½Renaissanceï¿½ eventually occurred partly thanks to the commercial success of the Solti RING, in which Svanholm participated only as Loge in DAS RHEINGOLD. Many live recordings of this important musician, however, have been preserved.ï¿½
- Edmund St. Austell
ï¿½After studying law and serving as an officer in World War I, Janssen studied with Oskar Daniel in Berlin and made his late dï¿½but at the Berlin State Opera in 1922 as Herod in Schrekerï¿½s DER SCHATZGRï¿½BER. He remained with the company until 1938 where he was very successful not only in Wagner but also in Verdi and French operas. He also appeared as Orest and Prince Igor. Guest appearances followed in Vienna and Buenos Aires. He was regarded as the outstanding exponent of the lighter Wagnerian baritone parts (Kurwenal, Wolfram, Amfortas, Gunther, Telramund, Kothner, Donner, Heerrufer) and appeared at Covent Garden (1926 - 1939) and Bayreuth (1930 - 1937). The Nazi regime caused him to leave Germany (1938). He made his dï¿½but at the Philadelphia Opera in 1939 (as Wotan in SIEGFRIED!). He was immediately engaged at the Met and remained there from 1939 to 1952. He was a frequent guest at all major American opera houses. After Friedrich Schorrï¿½s retirement in 1943 he reluctantly took over the heavier rï¿½les of Wotan and Hans Sachs, but they did not suit his voice. He considered the loss of vocal refinement and darkening of his famous upper tones. Herbert Janssen had always been a favorite recitalist and conquered a new generation of concertgoers, when he reappeared in London as a Lieder singer after World War II. He often stated that he would have preferred to sing Italian operas; he loved Verdi! At the end of his career he became a vocal coach.
Janssenï¿½s voice carried a depth of feeling and it was of dramatic and individual character. He is famous for his Wagner recordings and they belong to his greatest achievements. His lieder recordings are true treasures!ï¿½
- Andrea Shum-Binder, subito-cantabile