Lotte Lehmann League Newsletter Fall 1994 Volume VI, No. 1 Final Issue
New Lehmann CDs
As the March/April 1994 issue of Fanfare notes, four recent CDs amount to “a treasure trove for Lotte Lehmann fans.” The first is the complete recordings of the 1941 radio broadcasts which the Lotte Lehmann Archives at UCSB issued in LP format in 1988. The set of two CDs is now available on Eklipse EKR CD 18, and, along with the following CDs which I’ll discuss, are available through VAI Audio, if not in your local record store. I have been in touch with the LL Archives, and they did not provide the original masters for this release (contrary to the assumption of Marc Mandel, writing in Fanfare). I assume that these are simply a remastering of the LPs. Though there are unresolved ethical and legal questions, this is a chance to own CDs of these superb performances, if that is your only medium. The LPs are still available, with a booklet of English translations, from the LL Archives at UCSB.
Eklipse is the dream of an English vocal enthusiast; he also has a CD entitled: Lotte Lehmann in Concert 1943-1950. This hodgepodge of live and radio acetate recordings does nothing to enhance Lehmann’s legacy. In fact, if this were all one knew of her, one would hesitate to listen to her again. Lehmann is not singing at her best level, even for these “late” years. Further, the technical problems of the original acetates should have been eliminated or at least improved with today’s technology. The list of performances (all live) includes the following errors: number 6 is not Aufträge but Widmung; number 10 is Träume not Traume; numbers 17 and 18 are reversed. Also, three performances of Schubert’s Ständchen and two of Brahms’ Wiegenlied are unnecessary. What an embarrassment! A second CD is included which is most of the 1962 Met intermission interview of Maria Jeritza and Lehmann conducted by John Gutman. Though famous in their primes as rivals and worse, they pretend to be civil. If one is curious to hear this as a document of hypocrisy, fine, but don’t expect historic information of any value. The CD is EKR CD20.
The third portion of this bonanza is Lotte Lehmann: The New York Farewell Recital which took place on 16 February 1951, not on the seventh, as Fanfare‘s Mandel reports. He may be confusing this with the Santa Barbara farewell of 7 August 1951. But I do agree with him when he writes: “The opening Schumann group gives full testament to Lehmann’s powers of expression…” What he fails to mention is that, beyond being a historic document, Lehmann included some songs by Cornelius and Franz that she never recorded elsewhere. He notes that the famous intermission speech wasn’t included. It is conspicuous by its absence; the CD runs only 57:40, so it could have been included. But, if not otherwise part of your Lehmann collection, don’t miss this VAI Audio, VAIA 1038.
The final CD which Mandel reviewed is the third act of Der Rosenkavaller from San Francisco in 1945, which, of course, doesn’t focus on the Marschallin until the final moments, and these are mostly the famous trio. The EMI CD of 1933 is Lehmann in her prime, and except for the chance to hear her “live” and for historic purposes, I can’t recommend this one.
Filling out this CD to its 76 minutes is an interview that Mandel incorrectly attributes to me. His sole reference was probably the Beaumont Glass biography of Lehmann, and my discography, since its publication in that book, has been through several revisions. According to Elizabeth Witherell, curator of manuscripts at UCSB Special Collections Library (including the LL Archive), “Lincoln Mayorga was the interviewer in the February 27, 1973, interview with Lehmann. Gary [Hickling] apparently did an earlier birthday interview, late in 1972; maybe the reviewer confused the two.” This is another Eklipse effort EKR CD25.
There are also CDs which “include” LL which have appeared since our last newsletter. Great Voices of the Century Sing Tchaikovsky: Memoir CDMOIR 422 (distributed by (Qualiton). LL sings (in German) the final part of the Letter Scene from Eugene Onegin. In the book Opera on Record, LL’s performance on this recording is described as able to depict “an impulsive whole-hearted creature, ready for new experience.”
The second CD has yet to be released but should prove an important addition to the LL discography. Koch-Schwann is slowly releasing CDs in its “Wiener Staatsoper” edition. They draw upon the resources of the archives of the sound engineer Hermann May, and the series covers excerpts from “live” performances at the Vienna State Opera from 1933–1944. Lehmann, as far as I can tell, will be represented two or three times. [Website Users…this turned out to be a treasure, though the sound is scratchy: see Complete CDs.]—GH
Note: The September 1994 Opera News touts a new CD, Viennese Nights, which includes at least one selection from Lehmann. It is Memoir Classics 419. —JS
Note: 2 Just released!—LL Santa Barbara Farewell Recital, 7 Aug 1951, with Gwendolyn Koldofsky, pianist. Eklipse EKR CD35. —GH
Please note the following correction in the labeling of Lehmann’s poetry reading recorded in 1956 by Caedmon (TC 1072) which lists the Goethe poem “Als ich auf dem Euphrat schiffte” when it should have read, “Der Schäfer.”
Also, the “Wanderers Nachtlied” recorded on the same LP is the one that begins “Der du von dem Himmel bist.”
In the latest Lehmann discography that Floris Junboll wrote, he writes “Auszüge,” or excerpts when referring to Lehmann’s reading of “Das Marienleben” by Rilke on the Caedmon LP TC 1128. I have listened to it and find it complete. —GH
LL Art on Display
The Curator of Manuscripts at UCSB’s Special Collections Department, Elizabeth Witherell, wrote that Lehmann’s art work was on display during January and February of 1994. The exhibit included oil paintings, watercolors, tiles, figurines, wire sculptures, “felt paintings,” and a bas relief.
LL Watercolor in Vienna
Ulric De Vaere writes that his LL essay is included in a book released in November 1993 in England and entitled Before the Summer Rain. “Years ago I attended one of Madame Lehmann’s Master Classes at UCLA (as a guest). . . She gave me a water color she painted of the Marschallin which I donated to the Library of the Vienna State Opera.”
New Books that speak of LL
In the Summer 1993 edition of this newsletter, we wrote of various books that devoted chapters to Lehmann. [Not included in that issue here on the site, because the bibliography on this site is available.] Happily, two new and important books have appeared with considerable attention to LL.
The first The Grand Tradition, Seventy Years of Singing on Record: 1900 to 1970, by J. B. Steane, second edition, 1993, Amadeus Press, Portland, Oregon. Though there are many detailed, opinion-filled pages which mention LL, the chapter called “Lieder, More than Singing” ( a play on Lehmann’s book title) deals with Lehmann extensively. He can find fault: “Wolf’s ‘Auch kleine Dinge’ is much too strongly voiced for the fragility of both sound and sense.” But he generally praises: “. . . there surely never was an operatic artist with more of the natural feeling for the ways in which a phrase can be made meaningful and vivid, through the detailed, imaginative care for words.” On Lehmann’s recording of the “Liebestod” from Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde, Steane rhetorically questions, “Has one ever heard an Isolde who so tenderly mirrors the smile she sees in the dead face, or who rises quite so humanly to the great climaxes?” Finally, he writes, “It requires a remarkable, complete artist to bring such unlike forces together [opera and Lieder]; and it is not surprising that Lotte Lehmann should have been the one. . . preeminently to do it.”
It hardly needs saying that there are many analytical chapters that illumine the vocal careers and recordings of innumerable other artists in the 628 pages of this fascinating book.
The second book devotes a complete chapter to Lehmann. It is Legendary Voices by Nigel Douglas, published in 1992 by André Deutsch, London. It has the added cachet of an available CD which includes many of the recordings mentioned in the book. Nimbus, NI 7851, Legendary Voices includes Lehmann’s “Die Lotosblume” by Schumann and “Du bist der Lenz” from the 1935 recording of Wagner’s Die Walküre. But let’s sample the book in which Douglas writes that Lehmann was “described again and again as ‘a soul that sings’, an artist whose every performance was a creation of the moment, fetched as a new and living experience from somewhere deep within herself. These are not qualities which are easily projected onto a gramophone record, and in her recordings something of the spell which Lehmann used to cast upon live audiences is inevitably lost. It was also not a help that her early recording contracts… were with German companies which did not at that time aspire to the same technical level as those in London or New York. Despite all these caveats, however, several of the Lehmann CDs do succeed in bringing out a far more immediate and accessible timbre than I ever managed to extract from the old Parlophone 78s.” He then goes on to analyze in great detail many CDs including the RCA Victor’s GDS7809. “She proves that as late as 1947 she was still quite capable of sustaining a line as taxing as Schubert’s in ‘Nacht und Träume’ but it is not to prove that point that she sings the song, it is to wrap around her listeners the mood of external tranquility and internal longing, which the poem and the music engender.” -GH
Lehmann & Bruno Walter
Lehmann called Bruno Walter her greatest teacher and one of her most valued friends. Beaumont Glass writes that she regarded him “as one of the guiding spirits in her artistic development.” They began working together when Covent Garden offered Lehmann a contract to sing the Marschallin in Strauss’ Der Rosenkavalier. It was partly due to the fact that she wanted to sing under Walter’s baton that she signed the contract despite the fact that she’d never sung the role. In both 1925 and 1926 he accompanied her at Queens Hall and Royal Albert Hall, London, in recitals that included arias as well as songs. Lehmann wrote of this experience, “It was wonderful to make music with him. What marvelous things he told me about those songs.” He helped her tremendously then and throughout her career, both in opera and song, guiding her with the deepest respect for her gifts and at the same time demanding the highest musical levels at his command.
But it was in the rarified festival world of Salzburg that they made their mark on musical history.
Here is Walter Legge’s account of the Lieder recitals at the Salzburg Festivals. “In 1925, the year of the opening of what we now call ‘the old Festspielhaus,’ there were four: one each by Richard Mayr, Joseph Schwarz, a great German baritone, Lotte Schöne and a program of arias, lieder and duets by Maria Ivogün and Karl Erb. . .In 1926, the only lieder recital by Hans Duhan was cancelled. . .There were no more song recitals until 1934 when Lotte Lehmann and Bruno Walter joined forces to make a memorable occasion…. [Legge overlooked a 27 August 1933 recital] The same artists gave one concert in both 1935 and 1936. In 1937 there were two Lehmann–Walter recitals and a concert of contemporary composers….”
Here is a listing of the content of those historic recitals: 1933:
Schubert: “An die Leier,” “Im Abendrot,” “An eine Quelle,” “Erlkönig”;
Schumann: “Erstes Grün,” “Der Nussbaum,” “Waldesgespräch,” “Aufträge”;
Brahms: “Nicht mehr zu dir zu gehen,” “Wenn du nur zuweilen lächelst,” “Bitteres zu sagen denkst du,” “Botschaft,” “Der Salamander;” and
Wolf: “Mignon” (Kennst du das Land), “Anakreons Grab,”
“In dem Schatten meiner Locken,” “Der Freund.”
On the back of the program, which includes the complete texts of the poems, is an advertisement for the “just released” biography of Richard Mayr with “a foreword by Lotte Lehmann.”
1934: Beethoven: “Freudvoll und leidvoll,” “Wonne der Wehmut,” “Neue Liebe, neues Leben”;
Schubert: “Romanze aus Rosamunde,” “Ungeduld” (from Die schöne Müllerin);
Schumann: Frauenliebe und -leben;
Brahms: “Ach, wende diesen Blick,” “Immer leiser wird mein Schlummer,” “Wie bist du, meine Königin,” “Ständchen”;
Wolf: “An eine Äolsharfe,” “Und willst du deinen Liebsten sterben sehen?”, “Der Knabe und das Immlein,” “Der Gärtner,” “Er ist’s!”
Vocally and histrionically a very demanding program. And long!
Here is a review of this recital: “Working together with Bruno Walter seems to lead the artist even beyond herself and to draw her up to unimagined heights. How those two up there on the concert platform, music-possessed, make music together—that verges on the miraculous.”
In 1935 the program included:
Mozart: “Abendempfindung,” “An Chloe,” “Dans un bois solitaire,” “Die Verschweigung”;
Schumann: “Widmung,” “Geisternähe, ” “Die Kartenlegerin,” “Aufträge”;
Duparc: “L’invitation au Voyage,” “Extase”;
Moussorgsky: “Improvisation” (also called “Fantasie”), “La Nuit”;
Berlioz: “Absence,” “L’ile inconnue” (from Nuits d’Été);
Brahms: “Unbewegte laue Luft,” “Nachtigall,” “Wir wandelten,” “Meine Liebe ist grün”
At this juncture, gentle reader, notice above the unusual (for the time and place) inclusion of non-German items.
Here are the contents, in order, of their 1936 recital:
Brahms: “An die Nachtigall,” “Nicht mehr zu dir zu gehen,” “Lerchengesang,” “Mondenschein,” “Willst du, dass ich geh’?”;
Mendelssohn: “Der Mond,” “Venezianisches Gondellied,” “Gruss,” “Neue Liebe,” “Auf Flügeln des Gesanges”;
Cornelius: “Komm, wir wandeln zusammen,” “Wiegenlied,” “Ein Ton”;
Franz: “Für Musik,” “Im Herbst”;
Wolf: “Benedeit die sel’ge Mutter,” “Anakreons Grab,” “Gesang Weylas,” “Du denkst mit einem Fädchen mich zu fangen,” “Er ist’s!”
Remember that this last song appeared on the 1934 program, also at its conclusion. It is a rouser. Note the sophisticated songs mixed with the chestnuts; the unknown songs (and composers) side by side with the most famous.
These are the two programs from August of 1937: On 1 August at 11:00 a.m.:
Brahms: “O wüsst ich doch den Weg zurück,” “Wir wandelten,” “Sonntag,” “O liebliche Wangen”;
Schubert: “Der Lindenbaum” (from Winterreise), “Frühlingsglaube,” “Gretchen am Spinnrad”;
Strauss: “Befreit,” “Freundliche Vision”;
Wolf: “Der Gärtner,” “Storchenbotschaft.”
On 20 August, again at 11:00 a.m. in the Mozarteum:
Schubert: “An Sylvia,” “An die Musik,” “Der Doppelgänger” (from Schwanengesang), “Im Abendrot”;
Brahms: “Ach, wende diesen Blick,” “Bitteres zu Sagen denkst Du,” “Mainacht,” “Therese,” “O liebliche Wangen”;
Strauss: “Befreit,” “Freundliche Vision,” “Die Georgine,” “Ständchen”
Notice that Walter agreed to play Strauss songs, even though he had reasons personal and professional [and political] to avoid them. Strauss was at that time fulfilling the Nazi’s requests for music and “administration.”
In 1962, upon Bruno Walter’s death, Lehmann wrote: “He was a great teacher, a noble man, a beloved friend.”
POEM BY LOTTE LEHMANN “MIT BRUNO WALTER AM KLAVIER…”
Es trägt sein Spiel, das sich mir tief verwebt,
Mich fort auf wunderbaren Schwingen.
Ich fühle im Zusammenklingen
Hinströmend meine Seele singen,
Die nun im Willen seiner Hände lebt
Und aufwärts schwebt zu lichten Höhen.
Vermahlt in einer Melodie—
Geführt und führend—hingerissen
Eines dem andern folgen mussen
In tiefstem Voneinanderwissen:
Geheimnis ist’s der Harmonie
Und wahres, reines Sichverstehen.
My attempt at an English translation of its sense, not a word-for-word translation:
His playing, that deeply intertwines me, carries me to wonderful floating
I feel in the sounding together that my streaming soul sings, that now lives in the will of his hands.
And it floats upwards to the bright heights.
Painted in a melody, led and leading, enthralled; forced to follow each other in the deepest understanding: the harmony is a mystery.
And truly a pure self-revelation
In a translation by Mrs. Hilde Randolph:
“Deeply moved by his playing
I am carried away on heavenly wings
I can feel my soul singing in togetherness
following the will of his hands
carried to pure heights, united by a melody
guided and guiding
spellbound, having to follow each other
it is the secret of harmony
and real true mutual understanding.”
On July 16,1994, the Music Academy Festival Orchestra, under the direction of Catherine Comet, presented the West Coast premiere of Sieben Lehmannlieder, the orchestrated version of the lieder cycle based on poems written by Lotte Lehmann. Soprano Patricia Prunty sang. Ms. Prunty is a 1989 Academy alumna and a rising operatic star.
The original version of Sieben Lehmannlieder premiered at the Music Academy in 1988 with Judith Beckmann, soprano, and Mr. Pasatieri at the piano.
Longtime Lehmann admirer Mrs. Richard H. Hellmann funded both the Academy’s commission of Pasatieri to set the Lehmann poems to music and its subsequent orchestration. The world premiere of the orchestral version took place in 1992 with former Academy Music Director Lawrence Leighton Smith leading the Louisville Orchestra.
Mrs. Hellmann has also commissioned a voice and piano score for the Sieben Lehmannlieder. It is published by and available from Theodore Presser, One Presser Place, Bryn Mawr, PA 19010, Attention Jennie Clymer, Reference Scoring 411-41091. The price was $16.50 and includes a photo of Lehmann as a frontispiece to the score.
The poems come from a small paperbound edition of Lehmann’s poetry, Lotte Lehmann Gedichte, privately printed in 1969 by Rudolf Reischl OHG, Salzburg. —JS
From the Santa Barbara News-Press Review
Commentary from Hillary Hausers July 20, 1994 review of the Sieben Lehmannlieder.
Pasatieri has said that when he wrote the music for Lehmann’s poems, the diva’s silver voice was “in (his) ear,” and that he continualIy thought of the music she was so known for—Mahler [LL not known for Mahler. —GH], Schubert, Strauss. Judging by Saturday night’s performance, Pasatieri has beautifully and successfully mixed a wondrous brew of all these composers…. With the spirit of Lotte Lehmann hovering about (and rendering expectations high). Soprano Patricia Prunty stepped into the thick of all this with deserved confidence, instantly dazzling her listeners with a truly lovely, crystalline reading of “Ich bin allein auf Bergesgipfeln” (“I am alone on the mountain peaks”), then graduating to the ultra-romantic heartfelt pleadings of “Wie lieb’ ich diese klare Stunde” (“How I love this clear hour”). Then she took her listeners to points beyond—a somber lament in “So hort’ ich wieder deiner Stimme Ton” (“Thus I heard again the sound of your voice”), which ended in a quietly riveting, long, long held note in “Um einen toten Traum” (…”for a dead dream”)… her emotional and technical capacities seemed boundless… Her capacity for rage and grief emerged in “In Flammen starb dein Bild” (“Your image died in flames…”), and subsided in the slow lament of “Wie schön ist dieser tiefe Schlummer” (“How lovely is this deep slumber”). In “Narcissus” she went dark and mad, reaching a tremendous crescendo and sudden, stunning fortissimo cut-off at the end that rendered her listeners breathless. The seventh, and last, song, “Die Welt scheint ganz aus Glut gesponnen” (“The world appears entirely spun of light”) seemed to serve as a showcase for the soprano’s abilities for tragic heroine roles, “Elektra” style. . . .
Lehmann told me that Sieglinde was her favorite role, which surprised me, because I had always assumed that she loved the Marschallin best, probably because that is the role with which she was/is so closely identified. Though there is certainly passion in Der Rosenkavalier, the ecstatic words and music of Sieglinde were just what Lehmann performed best.
This is well documented on a new CD from Walhall: WHL 1, a three disc set made from acetates that originally recorded the live Metropolitan Opera performance of Die Walküre on March 30, 1940. It is a real “all star” cast with Lehmann and Melchior as the twins, Marjorie Lawrence as Brünnhilde, Friedrich Schorr as Wotan, Kerstin Thorborg as Fricka and Emanuel List as Hunding.
Erich Leinsdorf conducts well with the exception of those sections with Melchior, where the latter rushes and in other ways distorts the rhythm. Only conductors such as Bruno Walter and Arturo Toscanini could rein in such waywardness.
A note about the sound: it ranges from acceptable to annoying. No attempt has been made, with all the digital technology at our command, to remove ticks and distortions.
Remember that this is our only chance to hear Lehmann sing “O hehrste Wunder!” because this occurs in the third act which doesn’t otherwise appear on CDs (or any other commercial medium), because Lehmann never recorded any of the third act. But on this CD the distortion almost masks and destroys Lehmann’s intensity at this crucial juncture of the story and music. This is the first time the “redemption through love” motif is heard, and Lehmann certainly recognized its importance.
In the Nov/Dec 1992 issue of Fanfare, William Youngren reviews the second act 1935/1938 recording of Wagner’s Die Walküre issued on CD by EMI CLASSICS CDH 7 64255 2 and gives a detailed account of the reasons (political and artistic) for the alternative cast, orchestra and conductor. But of the important stars of the recording, he writes, “Lehmann and Melchior…are magnificent, unmatchable, the Sieglinde and Siegmund of one’s dreams.”
Youngren reminds us that the first and second act are available together on Danacord’s DACOCD 317-318, and of course, the first act of Die Walküre with Lehmann, Melchior and Bruno Walter conducting is available on Angel CDH 61020.
For those of you who wish to collect all Lehmann Sieglindes, there is the second act “live” in a 1936 performance in San Francisco with Flagstad as Brünnhilde and Fritz Reiner conducting (Legato Classics LCD-133-1).
[This final issue of the Lotte Lehmann League Newsletters included a “personal recollection” which is largely duplicated on this site under “My Lehmann Connection”.]
[Another article not duplicated here is called “Lehmann’s Recital Repertoire”. Again, the reason is that the same material, vastly enlarged in available on this website.]
The Marschallin knew when time was at its crest, and so, I hope, do we. The decision was swift and mutual: let’s stop writing the LLL newsletter while we’re still enjoying it, before burn-out sets in. We both have other things we want to do now, new directions ahead. So, Ende. The newsletter has been a labor of love from Gary Hickling and me, love for Lehmann’s artistry (ignited, for me, by love for Lehmann’s most faithful friend, Frances Holden) and love and friendship for each other. All the love remains; there just seems less and less time for the details of newsletter compilation and production. And besides, as we’ve always known, Lotte Lehmann has never needed us to ensure her enduring fame; her voice and her presence alone do that quite well. We’ve just been latter day fans, clapping and clapping until our hands are tired. On the centennial of her birth there were no Lehmann CDs available. Today I have about 20, and I have no worries anymore that she might be forgotten. If there are any of you out there who might volunteer to carry on the LLL, we’ll be happy to talk with you. Otherwise, this is our last issue. Thank you for being so pleasantly appreciative of our efforts. ––JS