George London;  Erik Werba;  Paul Ulanowsky   (Orfeo C 801 091)
Item# V0512
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George London;  Erik Werba;  Paul Ulanowsky   (Orfeo C 801 091)
V0512. GEORGE LONDON, w.Erik Werba (Pf.): Songs by Schubert, Ibert & Mussorgsky - Live Performance, 11 June, 1964, Theater an der Wien; w.Paul Ulanowsky (Pf.): Cinq chansons françaises (Duparc). (Germany) Orfeo C 801 091. Long out-of-print, Final Sealed Copy! - 4011790801124


"It is not unique, but it will probably remain an occurrence as rare as it is welcome when the leading heroic baritone of his generation is also a master of the subtle form of the lied. George London was the outstanding Amfortas, Wotan and Dutchman of the late 1950s and early ’60s, but also belonged among those singers with a mature vocal technique and intelligent characterization who were able to enthuse audiences in the concert hall without relying merely on their stage charisma (even though that was present in abundance). At the height of his career – which was cut short tragically – London gave a lieder recital at the Theater an der Wien. He had already sung there as a member of the Vienna State Opera, which was based there during the post-war rebuilding of the opera house on the Ringstrasse. It was there that he had laid the foundations of his European career (and thus also of his later, triumphant return to his native North America). It was also there that he had soon found several of his star roles, such as Don Giovanni, Amonasro, the villains in THE TALES FROM HOFFMANN, and Eugene Onegin.

In tune with the spirit of the place, London began his recital with the Heine songs from Schubert’s SCHWANENGESANG, in which he could explore (but not exceed) the dramatic boundaries of songs such as ‘Atlas’ and ‘Doppelgänger’. As Boris Godunov, London travelled the world – from the Bolshoi in Moscow to the New York Met – but in this recital, too, he wandered in the footsteps of Feodor Chaliapin by singing Jacques Ibert’s Iberian-influenced DON QUICHOTTE and finally Modest Mussorgsky’s Songs and Dances of Death – tone paintings of archaic grandeur in which he was wholly in his element. In all three cycles, Erik Werba as accompanist completely lived up to his reputation as a modest, but equal partner. In addition to this live recording from Austrian Radio, ORFEO here offers as a bonus the five songs by Henri Duparc with which George London had ten years earlier made his lieder debut before a microphone, in Canada, the country of his birth.”

- Orfeo

“Other than possibly the recording by Boris Christoff, Mussorgsky’s harrowing song cycle ‘Songs and Dances of Death’ with piano accompaniment by Paul Ulanowsky this is the one to hear. London’s black, distinctive voice is fearsome, world-defying. What a performance!”

- Charles H. Parsons, AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE, Jan./ Feb., 2011

“In the many performances I have appeared in, there were many wonderful colleagues who had me in raptures. There were those with magnificent voices, or great musicians, wonderful actors or great personalities. But George London had it ALL. He was as impressive on stage as he was the wonderful colleague and friend in his private life.”

- Birgit Nilsson, as quoted in Leonardo A. Ciampa’s THE TWILIGHT OF BELCANTO, p.130

“George London was a dramatic and very expressive singer. In many roles he sang like a demonic panther with a sound of purple-black in color. London was a singer favoring the drama in a piece, varying color to suggest shifts of mood. His acting on stage was described as overwhelming. The special magnetism of this artist is documented on his great recordings. Every role he sang was sung with utmost expression and unbelievable commitment, truly a singing-actor!”

- Andrea Shum-Binder, subito-cantabile