Reviews for IPCD 1024-2
SET SVANHOLM: Unknown Lieder Recitals 1949–1952
Set Svanholm (ten.); various accompanists
SCHUBERT An die Leyer. Liebesbotschaft. Der Atlas. An Sylvia. Einsamkeit. Die Forelle. An die Musik. Erlkönig. Ungeduld. Der Neugierige.
BRAHMS Wie bist Du, meine Königin. Unbewegte, laue Luft. In der Gasse. Vorüber. Dein blaues Auge. Meine Liebe ist grün.
STRAUSS Allerseelen. Du meines Herzens Krönelein. Wie sollten wir geheim sie halten. Zweignung.
RANGSTRÖM Pan. Melodi.
GRIEG Med en Primula Veris. En Dröm.
SIBELIUS War det en dröm? Svarta rosor. Den första kyssen.
WAGNER Die Walküre: Winterstürme. Lohengrin: “In fernem Land.” Tristan and Isolde: Act I, scene 3 (w/Flagstad, Schoeffler/Rankl/Covent Garden). Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg: Act III, scene 2 (w/S. Björling/Sixten Ehrling/Royal Stockholm Opera). Morgenlich leuchtend (Merola/San Francisco Opera Orch)
IMMORTAL PERFORMANCES IPCD 1024-2 (2 CDs: 140:07)
It might be that “Zeit,” the German word for “time,” and “Geist,” the German word for “spirit,” translate easily, but when they are conjoined into “Zeitgeist,” the exact meaning is difficult to get hold of. However members of our community of “serious record collectors,” who have listened to the recordings of Karl Erb and compare them to the recordings of Ian Bostridge, understand this word, and understand as well how drastically the Zeitgeist has changed within the span of a century. Although Set Svanholm is several years younger than Karl Erb, they represent the same Zeitgeist, comprised in part, of simplicity and directness, as well as a deep connection with nature and the human heart. One finds a kindred clarity, brilliance, and beauty of sound, a helden quality, although neither of them really had the vocal dimensions required to sing the larger Heldentenor roles. Svanholm, like Erb is not a legato singer of songs in the way of other earlier artists like Heinrich Rehkempfer or Franz Steiner. The word, which is after all the mother of the music, seems ascendant to the former pair, and although phrases are gracefully shaped, they seem carefully cobbled together rather than spun. These two singers also share a dedication to church music, imparting an air of reverence to things secular as well as sacred.
Svet Svanholm’s two recitals presented on this disc are very compelling, and at times magical. There are moments approaching perfection, as in the Library of Congress performance of Dein blaues Aug although one encounters throughout both performances chronic technical difficulties, resulting in frequent inconsistency of tone and wavering of pitch. The purity and sincerity of Svanholm’s delivery carries the day however. We are inclined to forgive readily the inconsistencies characteristic of many great singers like Lotte Lehmann or Fritz Wunderlich, and although I do not place Svanholm in this elite category, he casts his spell. No one today sings the songs of Schubert and Brahms with the depth and guilelessness he possessed, though many are more polished. The best of today’s Lieder singers, baritones Roman Trekel and Dietrich Henschel, notwithstanding their superb techniques, elegant style, vision, and intelligence, still stand somewhat aloof from the heart of these songs, the Zeitgeist of Svanholm’s world.
The fact that Set Svanholm’s voice was not quite ample enough to sing Tristan or Siegfried in the larger houses might be the reason that he is not as well known as Melchior or Windgassen. In the excerpts included on this disc one hears that he over-sings a great deal, especially when he is matching the phrases of the clarion Kirsten Flagstad. Walter’s “Preislied,” conducted by Gaenato Merola ends this album. It represents all the virtues of this notable singer, and makes one overlook the shortcomings.