Author Topic: Christa Ludwig  (Read 9398 times)

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Offline Guido

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Christa Ludwig
« on: January 30, 2012, 09:55:29 AM »
Is there really no thread for her yet? Is she the greatest mezzo of the last 50 years? Have only heard her Wagner (Kundry, Erda) and Mahler (Ruckert Lieder, Das Lied) so far, and am absolutely bowled over. The sound is burnished, full, radiant, one of the most beautiful voices I've ever heard. But the delivery is so intense, so sensitive, so deeply felt. What should I hear next? I'm tempted to hear all her Mahler and Wagner singing at least... Of course I know the famous Octavian recordings too actually come to think of it. How is her Marschallin?
« Last Edit: January 30, 2012, 10:32:00 AM by Guido »
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Offline knight66

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Re: Christa Ludwig
« Reply #1 on: January 30, 2012, 11:29:13 AM »
Interesting that we seem to have had little support for her over the years I have been here. As always, how each of us hears a voice is subjective. I find her to be lacking in expression in Mahler, but others find what I miss. I detect little tone variation. She is in the famous Klemperer DLVDE, I do admire that recording, but wish Klemperer had used a different mezzo. Much later, if it is not Baker or Fassbaender, then I turn to the second Jessye Norman recording. She was much admired in Mozart, but in Cosi I preferFassbaender. She recorded Verdi, but I don't hear this as an Italianate voice.

Oddly I sometimes think of her as akin to her contemporary, Fischer Dieskau: much admired, but little loved. In the Karajan studio Tristan she sounds like a soprano; occasionally it is difficult to differentiate her from Dernsch.

Her Lieder has been much admired, but give me Baker or Fassbaender instead, where I detect more expression by deploying a wide tone palate rather than just loud/soft.

Mike
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Offline mc ukrneal

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Re: Christa Ludwig
« Reply #2 on: January 30, 2012, 11:49:51 AM »
I sometimes enjoy her voice. Knight has mentioned a few recordings. I would recommend the Karajan/Schwarzkopf Rosenkavalier. There is also the Verdi Requiem under Giulini that is quite good (again with Schwarzkopf). There was a box of some of her songs/arias released on EMI a few years ago. You might enjoy that.
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Offline knight66

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Re: Christa Ludwig
« Reply #3 on: January 30, 2012, 11:58:46 AM »
I have that Karajan Rosenkavalier, she does very good work on it; but I miss the 'face' within the characterisation. Jurinac would have been a better choice with her impetuosity.

Mike
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Offline mc ukrneal

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Re: Christa Ludwig
« Reply #4 on: January 30, 2012, 12:14:22 PM »
I have that Karajan Rosenkavalier, she does very good work on it; but I miss the 'face' within the characterisation. Jurinac would have been a better choice with her impetuosity.

Mike
Well, there is the DVD with Jurinac, who of course is excellent (and a terrific singer in general). But I think Ludwig is pretty fine here. Ludwig is sometimes accused of being too feminine, in which case Otter is superb for Haitink. But I have not really ever had an issue with Ludwig, who I think sings it believeabley and beautifully.
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Offline Sergeant Rock

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Re: Christa Ludwig
« Reply #5 on: January 30, 2012, 12:23:49 PM »
In the Karajan studio Tristan she sounds like a soprano; occasionally it is difficult to differentiate her from Dernsch.

Coincidently, I posted this earlier today in another thread when comparing Solti and Karajan's Die Walküre:

"Christa Ludwig was very good indeed in the part [Fricka] but it is true that her upper range has now become soprano-like and this makes Veasey's true mezzo-soprano better suited to the enraged utterances of the goddess." --Gramophone


Sarge
the phone rings and somebody says,
"hey, they made a movie about
Mahler, you ought to go see it.
he was as f*cked-up as you are."
                               --Charles Bukowski, "Mahler"

Offline knight66

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Re: Christa Ludwig
« Reply #6 on: January 30, 2012, 12:50:51 PM »
Well, there is the DVD with Jurinac, who of course is excellent (and a terrific singer in general). But I think Ludwig is pretty fine here. Ludwig is sometimes accused of being too feminine, in which case Otter is superb for Haitink. But I have not really ever had an issue with Ludwig, who I think sings it believeabley and beautifully.

Yes, she had a first rate voice and an excellent technique. I do very much enjoy that set, it is the one to which I most often return. I find nothing objectionable, but I find nothing distinctive. She does not imprint any phrases in my memory.

I did hear her live on radio as Eboli, Karajan was the conductor. Perhaps she was having an off day, but she sounded completely at sea and outside of her playing field. I never noticed her doing Verdi again. That was about 1976. In interview she said she would sing anything Karajan asked of her. This includes about four bars of alto solo work in the final ensemble of his recording of Haydn's Creation.

Whereas I felt her voice lost any individuality once she ascended into soprano roles, the opposite happened to Hunt Lieberson who was to my ears an unidentifiable soprano, but a completely distinctive mezzo. The mezzo range can allow for more tone painting.

Mike
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Offline mc ukrneal

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Re: Christa Ludwig
« Reply #7 on: January 30, 2012, 12:56:15 PM »
Yes, she had a first rate voice and an excellent technique. I do very much enjoy that set, it is the one to which I most often return. I find nothing objectionable, but I find nothing distinctive. She does not imprint any phrases in my memory.

I did hear her live on radio as Eboli, Karajan was the conductor. Perhaps she was having an off day, but she sounded completely at sea and outside of her playing field. I never noticed her doing Verdi again. That was about 1976. In interview she said she would sing anything Karajan asked of her. This includes about four bars of alto solo work in the final ensemble of his recording of Haydn's Creation.

Whereas I felt her voice lost any individuality once she ascended into soprano roles, the opposite happened to Hunt Lieberson who was to my ears an unidentifiable soprano, but a completely distinctive mezzo. The mezzo range can allow for more tone painting.

Mike
If I sang with Karajan and he wanted me to sing something, I'd do it too! I have not yet discovered Hunt Lieberson, who I have seen posted often on these boards. That pleasure is still ahead of me.
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Offline knight66

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Re: Christa Ludwig
« Reply #8 on: January 30, 2012, 12:59:45 PM »
It ought indeed to be a pleasure. As to Karajan, there are plenty of singers who one feels he abused by enticing them into roles too big for them. Or, at least keeping them singing them. Dernsch is one, Freni another. But that is a discussion for a different thread.

Mike
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Offline Guido

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Re: Christa Ludwig
« Reply #9 on: January 30, 2012, 05:17:48 PM »
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BM5VH-97ylo&feature=results_video&playnext=1&list=PL0FF3A2FD276B1BC2

this is the only version of the Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen I can find on youtube, but it's all crackily. I think this is so special.

Thanks for the suggestions. Funny how people hear things so differently. As you know, my tastes do tend to chime with your preferences when it comes to voices Mike, but then my favourite singer, Renee Fleming is much criticised by voice mavens, so I'm also quite used to finding huge differences in opinion with people I respect about which voices are Great and which are merely good!

I'd like to hear Ludwig (and Fleming!!) do the Wesendonck.
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kishnevi

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Re: Christa Ludwig
« Reply #10 on: January 30, 2012, 07:58:32 PM »
Coincidently, I posted this earlier today in another thread when comparing Solti and Karajan's Die Walküre:

"Christa Ludwig was very good indeed in the part [Fricka] but it is true that her upper range has now become soprano-like and this makes Veasey's true mezzo-soprano better suited to the enraged utterances of the goddess." --Gramophone


Sarge

She seems appropriately dark to me in the Levine/MET DVD of the Ring.   Besides Fricka in the first two nights of that cycle, she also did Waltraute in Gotterdammerung, but I haven't gotten around to watching that segment yet.

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Christa Ludwig
« Reply #11 on: January 30, 2012, 10:31:04 PM »
Great thread. I loved her in Bartok's Bluebeard's Castle with Walter Berry. Absolutely a mind-blowing experience. Yes, she had an incredible voice.
« Last Edit: January 31, 2012, 08:59:47 AM by Mirror Image »
"Music should be able to invoke the natural emotions in all human beings. Music is not notes fixed on apiece of paper.” - Toru Takemitsu

Offline knight66

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Re: Christa Ludwig
« Reply #12 on: January 30, 2012, 11:20:32 PM »
I think it is good that people are enjoying her. I am certainly not interested in putting people off her.

Christa Ludwig recorded the Wesendonk songs for EMI under Klemperer. It is on Spotify which you can download free and listen free if you can stand adverts every three tracks or so. But it would let you hear her. I have three of the songs on disk, grave beautiful......but not memorable. Typical of EMI, such vandalism, they are on a two disc selection of her material. Titled, the very best of...

Other than that, I don't think the performances are commercially available.

Mike
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I wasted time: and time wasted me.

DieNacht

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Re: Christa Ludwig
« Reply #13 on: January 31, 2012, 01:53:21 AM »
Pretty conventional views from me too: DLVDE + Rückert + Kindertoten with Karajan I find truly magnificent, DLVDE/Klemperer also among the best recordings of that work.

As regards the lieder, in the the few things I´ve heard, the singing was too big and somewhat old-fashioned and operatic for my taste (Mahler lieder), IMHO. Obviously not based on a lot of listening.
« Last Edit: January 31, 2012, 02:10:51 AM by DieNacht »

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: Christa Ludwig
« Reply #14 on: January 31, 2012, 03:32:16 AM »
As usual, my thoughts chime with Mike's on this subject. It was a beautifiul, rich voice, not inexpressive indeed, but often lacking in that specificity I find in the singing of Baker and Fassbaender in much of the same repertoire. That said, I have quite a few of her recordings, and certainly enjoy her work on them. She was an unexpected choice for Adalgisa on the second Callas Norma. Her coloratura may not be as accurate as Callas's, but she sings the role very well, and, though a mezzo, she sounds for once, as she should, like the younger woman. Stignani on  the other Callas set doesn't for one minute sound like a young girl.

I do slightly differ from Mike, though, in really enjoying her Octavian on the first Karajan Der Rosenkavalier, in which she captures Octavian's youthful ardour to perfection.
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline Guido

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Re: Christa Ludwig
« Reply #15 on: January 31, 2012, 07:14:23 AM »
spotify:album:1YPa26Tst4xmIVaCdD0iXS - they're all there. Plus other nice bits.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EBrjw539KR8&feature=fvst - what do people think of this? Must check out Fassbaender too.
Geologist.

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Offline Guido

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Re: Christa Ludwig
« Reply #16 on: January 31, 2012, 07:27:40 AM »
Can you give an example of what you are talking about when you say the specificity of Baker?
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Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: Christa Ludwig
« Reply #17 on: January 31, 2012, 11:58:25 PM »
Can you give an example of what you are talking about when you say the specificity of Baker?

It's hard to give a single example, but what I mean is that one feels that the emotion expressed is always specific to that one song, that one aria. Many singers, though not inexpressive, tend to be more generalised in their approach, a colour for sadness, a colour for happiness etc. Baker's singing, to me, always seems more immediate. I can give no better example than her version of Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen, so inward one feels the singer has already withdrawn from the world. Ludwig's version, though beautifully sung doesn't quite expose the song's heart in the same way.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pBTnAmWkxC0

\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline zamyrabyrd

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Re: Christa Ludwig
« Reply #18 on: February 05, 2012, 10:39:38 AM »
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EBrjw539KR8&feature=fvst - what do people think of this? Must check out Fassbaender too.

Speaking of mezzos or contraltos, Maureen Forrester is one of my all time favorites. I didn't know she passed away in 2010. Here's some interesting vocal music by CPE Bach sung by her. If you stay to the end, there is a wonderful fil di voce. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WUqdWkezQik&feature=related

And her Urlicht with Glenn Gould is legendary.
ZB
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Offline zamyrabyrd

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Re: Christa Ludwig
« Reply #19 on: February 05, 2012, 10:45:13 AM »
It's hard to give a single example, but what I mean is that one feels that the emotion expressed is always specific to that one song, that one aria. Many singers, though not inexpressive, tend to be more generalised in their approach, a colour for sadness, a colour for happiness etc.

It's interesting what you say about a specific approach for a particular song or role. I never really thought about it with regard to Ludwig as my standby for the Lied von der Erde is the Klemperer with Wunderlich and I liked her very much. I listened to the Ich bin der Welt and you are right about the lack of specificity. Also, is there a vibrato in the voice here? This is something that she would not normally be found in the same sentence with. It could be the fault of the recording though.

ZB
"I write to discover what I know."
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