GMG Classical Music Forum

The Music Room => Opera and Vocal => Topic started by: knight66 on January 22, 2008, 03:16:02 PM

Title: Gundula Janowitz
Post by: knight66 on January 22, 2008, 03:16:02 PM
I am surprised I don't seem to have previously started a thread about this soprano. She is a favourite of mine, I probably have just about all the works that she appears in.

Orfeo has provided a disc of live performances, there is a lot of pleasue to be had in listening to that creamy, silvery voice. I do not understand the structure of the disc. It might possibly have been made to emulate a recital; but backwards, forwards or sideways, it is a miscellany. Nothing like the bleeding chunks rag-bag they produced of Julia Varady, but it does feel random in structure.

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51WIhbVdekL._SS500_.jpg)

There are the expected items such as Ariadne and Mozart; less anticipated would be Don Carlos and Simon Boccegnera. Although not thought of as a Verdi Soprano, no one could suggest that she makes other than the most beautiful sounds and does savour the words. She is not the passive singer that Karajan so often seemed to encourage and her Eva in Meistersingers shows even more acuity with words.

The Boccegnera is shorn of most of its prelude of beautiful water and breeze evocations, a great pity. Verdi wrote some lovely evocations of nature, this among the best.

There is also superb support and the sound is natural and quite close in the various performances. This is a bit of a hit and run review as I am popping in quickly, but I hope some others enjoy her singing; if you do, this disc will provide lasting pleasure.

Mike
Title: Re: Gundula Janowitz
Post by: Brewski on January 22, 2008, 03:22:27 PM
I am a huge fan of Janowitz, and didn't know about this recording, which looks delectable.  She was my introduction to Richard Strauss's Four Last Songs, a version I still treasure to this day, among others which have appeared in the interim. 

But I don't have that many recordings by her, so this suggestion and others would be most welcome.  This looks like a really wonderful disc...

--Bruce
Title: Re: Gundula Janowitz
Post by: knight66 on January 22, 2008, 03:55:11 PM
Ho! Now you have asked for it. How about this to start with.

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51QP485TQNL._SS500_.jpg)

Five discs; lots of it new to CD.

A disc of Mozart opera and concert arias, Telemann and Handel and Bach, Beethoven Mass in C and the sop movement from The German Requiem. Weber, Wagner and J Strauss. The final disc includes the final scene from Capriccio and Four Last Songs in a live recording with Haitink conducting. Finally extracts from the Figaro conducted by Bohm. It is a splendid taster to what she can do. The voice is very consistant and never less than beautiful.

If you would like complete works, then the Kubelik Meistersingers, Kempe Ariadne, Bohm live Cosi with Fassbaender and Beethoven Missa Solemnis with Karajan. All show her at her best. The Schubert songs she recorded for DGG are also worth collecting. I have two double discs of them. They were recorded a an adjunct to Fischer Dieskau's epic survey of all songs that were suitable for the male voice. Originally it was planned that the female songs would be recorded by Janet Baker; but EMI refused to release her, this decision signaled the end of her exclusive relationship with EMI.

However, Janowitz was used instead and there are some very skillful as well as beautiful performances. In later years she seemed to become more in tune with lieder and her late recordings of such as Strauss songs on Virgin Classics is a step up in terms of detail and identification with the songs.

Here is a reasonably recent discography.

http://www.doremi.com/gundulajanowitz.html

Perhaps if I could only take one recording on holiday; it would be the Haydn Creation, Karajan's studio version with Wunderlich singing his final performance; he died in a accident in between recording sessions.

Mike




Title: Re: Gundula Janowitz
Post by: Sergeant Rock on January 23, 2008, 06:07:07 AM
Janowitz is one reason I think so highly of Karajan's Walküre.

Sarge
Title: Re: Gundula Janowitz
Post by: wagnernn on January 24, 2008, 01:42:14 AM
I love Janowitz in Weber's "Die Freischutz". I think that no soprano can sing this role beautifully like her.
Title: Re: Gundula Janowitz
Post by: Lobby on January 24, 2008, 05:16:14 AM
Good call Mike,

Janowitz's voice was remarkable and, as you say, probably one of the most sheerly beautiful ever.

As well as the Karajan Creation, which has already been mentioned, she contributes a lovely Pamina on Klemperer's Magic Flute recording (along with Lucia Popp's unsurpassed Queen of the Night).

When I first heard her performance of Agathe on Kleiber's Der Freischutz the tonal beauty was intoxicating, even though later listens caused me to revise my views slightly (I came to think that Kleiber luxuriates too much in the beauty of her voice on this recording, when there are times that he really needs to get on with the drama.  The recording is also a bit clinical and, in the end, you don't get the feeling that this is a complete performance, rather than a selection of beautifully played bits and pieces).

I only saw her once, as Ariadne at Covent Garden; but it is a special memory.

I have just been given the recently released DVD of Ariadne auf Naxos with her and a very young Edita Gruberova.  I haven't had a chance to watch it yet, but have high hopes.

Jon
Title: Re: Gundula Janowitz
Post by: Benny on January 24, 2008, 08:24:52 AM
Speaking of Orfeo, Janowitz also sung Euridice in Gluck's opera.
Title: Re: Gundula Janowitz
Post by: knight66 on January 24, 2008, 12:39:12 PM
Yes, there is a Gluck Orfeo. Fischer Dieskau is in the name part and this tells us it will not be a lot like a HIP performance. Taken on its own terms it is fine; but more for the collectors of either singer than for someone looking for a traversal of the piece.

I do love her as Elsa in Lohengrin. That is a marvelous set, Kubelik again providing really superb Wagner. There is one blot in that landscape, Gwyneth Jones at her wildest. But the set is nevertheless superb.

There is also a live Tannhauser that was on Opera d'Oro and that is worth tracking down. Sorry right now I don't have time to really describe these performances.

Mike

 
Title: Re: Gundula Janowitz
Post by: marvinbrown on January 24, 2008, 01:04:23 PM
Janowitz is one reason I think so highly of Karajan's Walküre.

Sarge

  Janowitz's collaborated  with Karajan on numerous projects: Haydn's The Creation, Bach's St. Matthew Passion are the two recordings I have.  I am not surprised that Karajan would choose her again for his Ring Cycle!!

  marvin
Title: Re: Gundula Janowitz
Post by: Tsaraslondon on January 27, 2008, 09:23:26 AM

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51QP485TQNL._SS500_.jpg)

Five discs; lots of it new to CD.

On sale in HMV Oxford Sreeet for £21 at the moment.
Title: Re: Gundula Janowitz
Post by: zamyrabyrd on January 29, 2008, 12:21:51 AM
Elegance and restraint in the letter duet (Figaro) with Lucia Popp:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wd5nFd3utLg

What it means to sing on one's interest and not principal (Magic Flute):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5aFZ8xz-3gg

She looks pretty good as well in "come scoglio":
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wqexdd_jbZU&feature=related
(The acoustics seem very bright as evidenced by the orchestral sound, very echo-like.)

ZB
Title: Re: Gundula Janowitz
Post by: knight66 on January 29, 2008, 01:40:08 PM
Yes, all beautiful performances. An instantly recognisable voice.

Mike
Title: Re: Gundula Janowitz
Post by: cosmicj on June 18, 2010, 08:07:07 AM
I am a big fan of Gundula, too.  That big recitative & aria in the first part of The Creation (HvK rec) is a wonder, with amazing purity and control of the high passages.  I feel she tends to be an emotionally cool singer (description, not criticism), but the last half of the Four Last Songs, 2nd song (again HvK rec) is transporting, like Janowitz, Karajan and the orchestra have been fused into a mystical union.  I'm going to be venturing into the Klemperer Magic Flute soon and look forward to hearing her work there.
Title: Re: Gundula Janowitz
Post by: Franco on June 18, 2010, 08:25:00 AM
Interesting, no one's mentioned Janowitz with Karajan in his great Beethoven 9th  (http://www.amazon.com/Beethoven-Symphony-Karajan-Philharmonic-Orchestra/dp/B000001GPY).
Title: Re: Gundula Janowitz
Post by: Mandryka on June 18, 2010, 12:54:05 PM
Interesting, no one's mentioned Janowitz with Karajan in his great Beethoven 9th  (http://www.amazon.com/Beethoven-Symphony-Karajan-Philharmonic-Orchestra/dp/B000001GPY).

Or indeed this Christmas Oratorio with Karl Richter -- which is one of the few things about Christmas which I enjoy.

I also like The Boehm Capriccio
Title: Re: Gundula Janowitz
Post by: Scarpia on June 18, 2010, 12:56:52 PM
Sorry to crash the party, but I can't say I enjoy the timbre of Janowitz' voice.  She reminds me of the stereotypical operatic voice that can shatter a crystal champagne glass, as in the Bugs Bunny cartoons.  For the signature Four Last Songs of Strauss I like Auger, with Previn and the VPO on Telarc.
Title: Re: Gundula Janowitz
Post by: Mandryka on June 18, 2010, 01:05:42 PM
I think she’s got a very ethereal and pure voice. Maybe cold sometimes, but in fact I find the timbre exceptionally beautiful. I think her Pamina is one of the greatest ever, for example.

Her vibrato – or lack of it – may be a problem for some people. It’s there: she certainly doesn’t sing with no vibrato at all. But  it’s  very light,  and I find it  really distinctive and attractive.
Title: Re: Gundula Janowitz
Post by: Scarpia on June 18, 2010, 01:10:10 PM
I think she’s got a very ethereal and pure voice. Maybe cold sometimes, but in fact I find the timbre exceptionally beautiful. I think her Pamina is one of the greatest ever, for example.

Her vibrato – or lack of it – may be a problem for some people. It’s there: she certainly doesn’t sing with no vibrato at all. But  it’s  very light,  and I find it  really distinctive and attractive.

I don't listen to her recordings often, for obvious reasons, but I recall her tone being very pure and her vibrato being very rapid and night, like a theremin in an Ed Wood movie.   8)
Title: Re: Gundula Janowitz
Post by: Guido on June 20, 2010, 02:33:04 AM
No matter how many versions I hear, her recording of the four last songs is still my favourite. Ok its not as intelligently sung as Schwarzkopf but that sound!!
Title: Re: Gundula Janowitz
Post by: Scarpia on June 20, 2010, 05:58:03 AM
Ok its not as intelligently sung as Schwarzkopf but that sound!!

I don't see how intelligence has anything to do with singing.
Title: Re: Gundula Janowitz
Post by: zamyrabyrd on June 20, 2010, 08:47:21 AM
I don't see how intelligence has anything to do with singing.

Thanks loads.

ZB
Title: Re: Gundula Janowitz
Post by: cosmicj on June 21, 2010, 08:01:39 AM
No matter how many versions I hear, her recording of the four last songs is still my favourite. Ok its not as intelligently sung as Schwarzkopf but that sound!!

Which Schwarzkopf recording are you referring to? 

I actually don't understand the use of the term "intelligent" in terms of singing, as well.  Can you provide some synonyms in this context?
Title: Re: Gundula Janowitz
Post by: Guido on June 21, 2010, 05:15:25 PM
Perhaps it was a poor choice of words - by intelligence I meant sensitivity to the text and conveying the meaning of the poetry accurately. Intelligence clearly has a lot to do with singing - I won't name names but there are some singers that have very little idea about what they are singing or how to express things but nevertheless have a beautiful voice, and then there's also those who are the opposite - ideally one wants both of course! Janowitz and Schwarzkopf do have both of course but it is a continuum.

I'm not saying that Gundula Janowitz is not an intelligent singer by any means, but occasionally she sacrifices the clarity of the words for a more ravishing sound which is an artistic choice of course - Schwarzkopf on the other hand would never ever do this.
Title: Re: Gundula Janowitz
Post by: cosmicj on June 22, 2010, 03:18:39 AM
Guido - Thanks for the explanation. 
Title: Re: Gundula Janowitz
Post by: Scarpia on June 22, 2010, 06:48:06 AM
Perhaps it was a poor choice of words - by intelligence I meant sensitivity to the text and conveying the meaning of the poetry accurately. Intelligence clearly has a lot to do with singing - I won't name names but there are some singers that have very little idea about what they are singing or how to express things but nevertheless have a beautiful voice, and then there's also those who are the opposite - ideally one wants both of course! Janowitz and Schwarzkopf do have both of course but it is a continuum.

I'm not saying that Gundula Janowitz is not an intelligent singer by any means, but occasionally she sacrifices the clarity of the words for a more ravishing sound which is an artistic choice of course - Schwarzkopf on the other hand would never ever do this.

I don't see that "selling a song" has much to do with intelligence.  Elvis did it, Frank Sinatra did it, Judy Garland did it, when Fischer-Dieskau, for instance, does his usual ham-job on some bit of Schubert lieder, I don't see it as a manifestation of intelligence, just a clumsy lack of sophistication.   And what passes for acting in opera is on the level of a Charlie Chaplin film short, from a point of view of sophistication and "intelligence."  There is a brief interview of Fisher-Dieskau on the video documentary about Solti's ring, and to me he comes off as a simpleton.

A pianist needs to be intelligent.  He or she is the "conductor" or his or her own "orchestra."  A singer presents a single melodic line.  An "intelligent" singer will study carefully what the conductor tells him or her to do.   8)
Title: Re: Gundula Janowitz
Post by: Tsaraslondon on June 22, 2010, 10:30:10 PM
I don't see that "selling a song" has much to do with intelligence.  Elvis did it, Frank Sinatra did it, Judy Garland did it, when Fischer-Dieskau, for instance, does his usual ham-job on some bit of Schubert lieder, I don't see it as a manifestation of intelligence, just a clumsy lack of sophistication.   And what passes for acting in opera is on the level of a Charlie Chaplin film short, from a point of view of sophistication and "intelligence."  There is a brief interview of Fisher-Dieskau on the video documentary about Solti's ring, and to me he comes off as a simpleton.

A pianist needs to be intelligent.  He or she is the "conductor" or his or her own "orchestra."  A singer presents a single melodic line.  An "intelligent" singer will study carefully what the conductor tells him or her to do.   8)

I've never heard such a load of rubbish in my life. Presumably then, you think that in the performance of a concerto, the soloist, whether it be pianist or any other instrument just studies carefully "what the conductor tells him to do". Strange then, that two performances of the same concerto with the same conductor can vary so dramatically. Ditto performance of operas by the same conductor with different singers.

I'm with Guido. I've heard plenty of singers who glide through a piece of music without the least appreciation of what it's about. Their performances may be pretty, but they are usually dull. Give me an  "intelligent" singer any day, one who colours his or her voice according to the text and the orchestration, and adapts their style to the composer at hand.

Incidentally, are you also suggesting that the likes of Garland, Sinatra and Elvis weren't intelligent because they sang popular music, or are you just insulting all singers in general?

Title: Re: Gundula Janowitz
Post by: Scarpia on June 22, 2010, 10:43:55 PM
I've never heard such a load of rubbish in my life. Presumably then, you think that in the performance of a concerto, the soloist, whether it be pianist or any other instrument just studies carefully "what the conductor tells him to do".

Of course not.  An pianist is a highly skilled performer, and the art of performing on that instrument comes mainly from the brain.  A singer is an instrument of sorts, mostly it is the lungs and larynx that determine an operatic singer.  Mostly they impress me as pea-brains (Pavarotti comes to mind).

Quote
Incidentally, are you also suggesting that the likes of Garland, Sinatra and Elvis weren't intelligent because they sang popular music, or are you just insulting all singers in general?

Mostly just insulting singers in general.   Your avatar is a prime example, cited as an "artist", although she destroyed her own career through mental instability.   8)
Title: Re: Gundula Janowitz
Post by: Tsaraslondon on June 22, 2010, 11:31:00 PM

Mostly just insulting singers in general.   Your avatar is a prime example, cited as an "artist", although she destroyed her own career through mental instability.   8)

Though she was also an accomplished pianist, read music fluently, and, on one occasion, sight sang the whole of the role of Isolde for Serafin, having told him she already knew it. She may have been "mentally unstable", as you put it, but this is a term that could be used to describe many great artists, conductors included! And actually, now that I think of it, high intelligence and mental instability often go hand in hand.




Title: Re: Gundula Janowitz
Post by: zamyrabyrd on June 23, 2010, 12:32:28 AM
Mostly just insulting singers in general.   Your avatar is a prime example, cited as an "artist", although she destroyed her own career through mental instability.   8)

This is the first time I heard of Callas as not only 'mentally unstable' but this given as the reason her career was shortened.  What do you mean by that, not being able to function in society, not to sustain long hours of work and study, having psychotic episodes, WHAT?

I recently finished reading her biography by Michael Scott and was planning to write my impressions of it on the Callas thread once the end of term activities were over, but this remark catapulted me out of seclusion. I really think you have a colossal nerve saying that.

Everyone has limits to how much stress one can bear until the seams show, the structure wobbles and maybe even falls apart.  To have achieved what she did in her career, she could not but have had immense mental fortitude.

The stresses of performing with such hostility always near at hand from the Italian public who thought her an interloper, to those musicians who couldn't comprehend what she was doing at first and the monstrous anxiety of not being able to sustain what is needed to stay at the top, that is to be consistently fantastic.

The stresses of the latter were due to the instability of her voice, a hostage to the physical frame in which it was embedded. I now tend to think that she wasn't really healthy even while stout, seemed like she had kidney problems (swollen legs and ankles). After slimming down she simply didn't have the stamina to sustain the lung support that must have been somewhat easier while she had a few more pounds.

Early on she found a refuge from her family problems in music, not the first time anyone ever did that. She may have been socially inept because of shyness about her height and size from the age of 13, being sequestered in a music conservatory, that is, not in the rough and tumble of learning about human relationships from peers and her somewhat daughter-daddy relationship she had with Meneghini.

Oh and incidentally, string and wind players play only one note at a time, so they are stupid too according to your definition. Singers though have that added problem of text which requires comprehension, diction and constant study as how best to project it through the music.

That "Stars are Born" and not made with immense effort is a romantic fallacy as much as composers like Beethoven just writing dictations from the Muse. I thought that people understood that much, at least on this forum.

ZB
Title: Re: Gundula Janowitz
Post by: Scarpia on June 23, 2010, 04:56:18 AM
This is the first time I heard of Callas as not only 'mentally unstable' but this given as the reason her career was shortened.  What do you mean by that, not being able to function in society, not to sustain long hours of work and study, having psychotic episodes, WHAT?

Really I should not be holding forth on the topic, since all I really know of Callas is that I should avoid any recording in which she has taken part, and a few odd things I've read in CD booklets and Wikipedia pages. 
Title: Re: Gundula Janowitz
Post by: Franco on June 23, 2010, 05:04:50 AM
Of course not.  An pianist is a highly skilled performer, and the art of performing on that instrument comes mainly from the brain.  A singer is an instrument of sorts, mostly it is the lungs and larynx that determine an operatic singer.  Mostly they impress me as pea-brains (Pavarotti comes to mind).

Mostly just insulting singers in general.   Your avatar is a prime example, cited as an "artist", although she destroyed her own career through mental instability.   8)

Looks like you're trying to compete with Teresa in the free-style trolling competition.  But, I think her lead is too large and at this point she is not to be denied the title of Greatest Troll.  I mean objectively Great, not just in my own personal preference.

 ;)
Title: Re: Gundula Janowitz
Post by: Scarpia on June 23, 2010, 05:29:48 AM
Looks like you're trying to compete with Teresa in the free-style trolling competition.  But, I think her lead is too large and at this point she is not to be denied the title of Greatest Troll.  I mean objectively Great, not just in my own personal preference

Just my opinion.  I won't disturb the sanctity of the Callas thread, assuming there is one. 
Title: Re: Gundula Janowitz
Post by: (poco) Sforzando on June 23, 2010, 05:38:34 AM
Just my opinion.  I won't disturb the sanctity of the Callas thread, assuming there is one.

Il barone Scarpia of all people should know that Callas was one of the greatest of Toscas.
Title: Re: Gundula Janowitz
Post by: Scarpia on June 23, 2010, 05:49:23 AM
Il barone Scarpia of all people should know that Callas was one of the greatest of Toscas.

Maybe that's why I find Callas irritating.   ::)
Title: Re: Gundula Janowitz
Post by: Tsaraslondon on June 23, 2010, 08:18:18 AM
Maybe that's why I find Callas irritating.   ::)

Yes, being the "intelligent" artist that she was, she'd have no doubt shot down your arguments in flames!

Oh, and by the way, there is indeed a Callas thread. If you should seek enlightenment, you can find it here http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php/topic,788.0.html (http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php/topic,788.0.html)


Title: Re: Gundula Janowitz
Post by: Tsaraslondon on June 23, 2010, 08:18:57 AM
Looks like you're trying to compete with Teresa in the free-style trolling competition.  But, I think her lead is too large and at this point she is not to be denied the title of Greatest Troll.  I mean objectively Great, not just in my own personal preference.

 ;)

No - your opinion, so still subjective!
Title: Re: Gundula Janowitz
Post by: Tsaraslondon on June 23, 2010, 08:22:12 AM
And ZB, thank you for bringing some sanity back to the discussion. As for Scarpia and Franco, if they have such antipathy for singers, why are they bothering to even read the Opera and Vocal board?
Title: Re: Gundula Janowitz
Post by: Franco on June 23, 2010, 08:27:14 AM
And ZB, thank you for bringing some sanity back to the discussion. As for Scarpia and Franco, if they have such antipathy for have such antipathy for singers, why are they bothering to even read the Opera and Vocal board?

I don't have any antipathy for singers, I was making a joke about Scarpia's criticism of Maria Callas being so far over the top as to consitute "trolling behavior" and referred to another poster on another thread who has repeatedly trolled concerning Mozart in an egregious manner.

But, my post was made in jest, as I tried to indicate by the smiley-wink.

For the record, I love opera, singers in general, and Maria Callas in particular.
Title: Re: Gundula Janowitz
Post by: Scarpia on June 23, 2010, 08:43:51 AM
And ZB, thank you for bringing some sanity back to the discussion. As for Scarpia and Franco, if they have such antipathy for singers, why are they bothering to even read the Opera and Vocal board?

Because I like the music and not the narcissistic peacocks strutting around the stage, per se?
Title: Re: Gundula Janowitz
Post by: Tsaraslondon on June 23, 2010, 08:49:58 AM
Because I like the music and not the narcissistic peacocks strutting around the stage, per se?

Well, narcissistic or not (and nothing will ever convince me that you are right, or, in fact that there is no such thing as a narcissistic pianist), opera wouldn't exist without them!
Title: Re: Gundula Janowitz
Post by: Tsaraslondon on June 23, 2010, 08:50:53 AM


But, my post was made in jest, as I tried to indicate by the smiley-wink.

For the record, I love opera, singers in general, and Maria Callas in particular.

Franco, I apologise unreservedly. I misunderstood your post.

Title: Re: Gundula Janowitz
Post by: Scarpia on June 23, 2010, 08:55:54 AM
Well, narcissistic or not (and nothing will ever convince me that you are right, or, in fact that there is no such thing as a narcissistic pianist), opera wouldn't exist without them!

Certainly there are narcissistic pianists.  The ones I prefer to listen to are not the ones that strike me as narcissistic. 

In the end, Callas is irrelevant to me, since she did all her work before recording technology had advanced to an adequate level.

Title: Re: Gundula Janowitz
Post by: Tsaraslondon on June 23, 2010, 09:10:13 AM


In the end, Callas is irrelevant to me, since she did all her work before recording technology had advanced to an adequate level.

Oh dear. Hundreds of great artists consigned to the dust, simply because they didn't make recordings before the age of digital recording. If I based all my knowledge of performers simply on those of the last two or three decades, I might have a very skewered appreciation of performers too.


Title: Re: Gundula Janowitz
Post by: Scarpia on June 23, 2010, 09:17:00 AM
Oh dear. Hundreds of great artists consigned to the dust, simply because they didn't make recordings before the age of digital recording. If I based all my knowledge of performers simply on those of the last two or three decades, I might have a very skewered appreciation of performers too.

I don't see any reason to believe that performers were any better in the past than they are today.  So I don't feel much incentive to listen to technically poor recordings of artists in the distant past when there are an abundance of artists working today who benefit from good recording technology.  Digital vs. analog is not a big issue, but most recordings made before 1955 unpleasant to listen to.  There has to be a good reason.
Title: Re: Gundula Janowitz
Post by: Tsaraslondon on June 23, 2010, 09:59:03 AM
I don't see any reason to believe that performers were any better in the past than they are today.  So I don't feel much incentive to listen to technically poor recordings of artists in the distant past when there are an abundance of artists working today who benefit from good recording technology.  Digital vs. analog is not a big issue, but most recordings made before 1955 unpleasant to listen to.  There has to be a good reason.

I rest my case.
Title: Re: Gundula Janowitz
Post by: kishnevi on June 23, 2010, 10:27:36 AM
I don't see any reason to believe that performers were any better in the past than they are today.  So I don't feel much incentive to listen to technically poor recordings of artists in the distant past when there are an abundance of artists working today who benefit from good recording technology.  Digital vs. analog is not a big issue, but most recordings made before 1955 unpleasant to listen to.  There has to be a good reason.

I generally agree with you about old recordings, but Callas did at least two recordings in stereo (have them--Carmen and Barber of Seville)--and several of her other recordings, even though they're mono, have good enough sound quality that they are worth getting (I'm thinking of Norma and Tosca in particular) especially in the budget format in which EMI now offers them  (or even better, the Brilliant re-issues that became available last year, which are even cheaper).
Title: Re: Gundula Janowitz
Post by: Scarpia on June 23, 2010, 10:38:36 AM
I generally agree with you about old recordings, but Callas did at least two recordings in stereo (have them--Carmen and Barber of Seville)--and several of her other recordings, even though they're mono, have good enough sound quality that they are worth getting (I'm thinking of Norma and Tosca in particular) especially in the budget format in which EMI now offers them  (or even better, the Brilliant re-issues that became available last year, which are even cheaper).

I think I have a recording of Tosca in which Callas appears (the price was right, Free!) but I've never listened to it.  If I want to go old-school on Tosca I'm more likely to try the Tebaldi (not the later one, but the earlier recording with Erde).
Title: Re: Gundula Janowitz
Post by: kishnevi on June 23, 2010, 10:42:31 AM
Oh dear. Hundreds of great artists consigned to the dust, simply because they didn't make recordings before the age of digital recording. If I based all my knowledge of performers simply on those of the last two or three decades, I might have a very skewered appreciation of performers too.

We have not option except to have a "skewered appreciation", no matter whether we listen to those old recordings or not.  There is a reason stereo overwhelmed mono, after all. It's like the difference between full color and black and white photos. Are you old enough to remember when most cameras were still just b/w, and color photography for personal cameras was a new fangled innovation?  When we here a recording from the mono period, we're getting a filtered or partial representation, and it's extremely hard to truly appreciate the actual performance.  We're not hearing what, say, Callas' audience in 1952 heard. 

The difference is most obvious when dealing with large forces, and least obvious when dealing with one instrument or a small group of instruments, such as a solo piano.  But it's there, and it automatically "skews" our appreciation of the performance.
Title: Re: Gundula Janowitz
Post by: Scarpia on June 23, 2010, 10:48:53 AM
We have not option except to have a "skewered appreciation", no matter whether we listen to those old recordings or not.  There is a reason stereo overwhelmed mono, after all. It's like the difference between full color and black and white photos. Are you old enough to remember when most cameras were still just b/w, and color photography for personal cameras was a new fangled innovation?  When we here a recording from the mono period, we're getting a filtered or partial representation, and it's extremely hard to truly appreciate the actual performance.  We're not hearing what, say, Callas' audience in 1952 heard. 

The difference is most obvious when dealing with large forces, and least obvious when dealing with one instrument or a small group of instruments, such as a solo piano.  But it's there, and it automatically "skews" our appreciation of the performance.

Not obvious which way the skew goes.  I sometimes suspect that the scratchy old recordings force us to use our imagination to a greater degree, and lead us to think that the older performance is better than we otherwise would have thought.
Title: Re: Gundula Janowitz
Post by: Franco on June 23, 2010, 10:54:05 AM
The fact remains that unless you wish to ignore the historical record, Maria Callas was a amazing talent, with a voice and stage manner quite unique and powerful, and if recording technology of the '50s was not adequate to capture her art, that is our loss and does not take away anything from her huge achievement.
Title: Re: Gundula Janowitz
Post by: kishnevi on June 23, 2010, 10:58:47 AM
I think I have a recording of Tosca in which Callas appears (the price was right, Free!) but I've never listened to it.  If I want to go old-school on Tosca I'm more likely to try the Tebaldi (not the later one, but the earlier recording with Erde).

There are apparently several pirate/not-commercially originated recordings floating around, with predictably bad sound--I have one from 1964, and you'd be hard pressed to hear Callas's singing in some parts.  If your recording is one of those,  you didn't overpay :)

This is the EMI recording I was talking about:
(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/21NIJ2BOgHL._SL500_AA300_.jpg)
which is now available both as a Brilliant super budget issue (without the libretto) and an EMI budget issue (with the libretto on a supplementary CD).  You are performed by by Tito Gobbi.

I have only one other recording of the opera--Nilsson/Corelli/Fischer-Dieskau
Title: Re: Gundula Janowitz
Post by: Scarpia on June 23, 2010, 11:04:17 AM
There are apparently several pirate/not-commercially originated recordings floating around, with predictably bad sound--I have one from 1964, and you'd be hard pressed to hear Callas's singing in some parts.  If your recording is one of those,  you didn't overpay :)

This is the EMI recording I was talking about:
(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/21NIJ2BOgHL._SL500_AA300_.jpg)
which is now available both as a Brilliant super budget issue (without the libretto) and an EMI budget issue (with the libretto on a supplementary CD).  You are performed by by Tito Gobbi.

I have only one other recording of the opera--Nilsson/Corelli/Fischer-Dieskau

I have this one, if I remember right:

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41TFQVGXBTL._SL500_AA300_.jpg)

Have never heard it.
Title: Re: Gundula Janowitz
Post by: kishnevi on June 23, 2010, 11:16:30 AM
I have this one, if I remember right:

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41TFQVGXBTL._SL500_AA300_.jpg)

Have never heard it.

Arkivmusic says it was recorded in 1964.  It shouldn't be too bad.
Of course, it seems the bad 1964 recording I have had another incarnation in the same group of EMI issues, so you can't be sure.  But yours is apparently a studio recording, unlike mine.
http://www.arkivmusic.com/classical/album.jsp?album_id=78850
Title: Re: Gundula Janowitz
Post by: cosmicj on June 23, 2010, 11:18:00 AM
How did the Janowitz thread turn into a discussion of Callas, more or less her polar opposite?
Title: Re: Gundula Janowitz
Post by: Sergeant Rock on June 23, 2010, 01:10:45 PM
How did the Janowitz thread turn into a discussion of Callas, more or less her polar opposite?

This is the opera board...all roads (threads) lead to Callas  ;D

Sarge
Title: Re: Gundula Janowitz
Post by: Verena on June 23, 2010, 01:25:36 PM
Quote
Not obvious which way the skew goes.  I sometimes suspect that the scratchy old recordings force us to use our imagination to a greater degree, and lead us to think that the older performance is better than we otherwise would have thought.

I suspect you are right. A very interesting point
Title: Re: Gundula Janowitz
Post by: knight66 on June 23, 2010, 10:05:01 PM
This is the opera board...all roads (threads) lead to Callas  ;D

Sarge

 ;D ;D

I usually read Scarpia with at least close attention and usually agree with him; however, he is right off the mark on this topic in every way. Perhaps he is just trying to ginger us up. Usually this board is a haven of pleasant discussion.

Back to Janowitz. Again, I think we experience different things from the same sounds. She does have a cool voice and is majorly concerned with the beauty of the sounds, but I don't here her as either detached or bland.

In the main she has a terrific technique, though on the famous 'Creation' disc, on a Mozart Aria recital and in a live Don Giovanni, she evinces a weakness in one phrase or other in actually getting round the notes. I also have a live recital with a fast Handel aria and it is not a comfortable experience.

She certainly uses vibrato; if you can hear her in anything and find a boy soprano or Emma Kirkby to compare with, you hear the difference. What sounds utterly pure is a very carefully crafted sound, abetted by her very specific vocal equipment.

I always look for any surfacing performances, though did abjure a Karajan, Monteverdi 'Poppea' performance, that apart, I think I have about all her discs.

Despite promoting her, Karajan preferred to encourage her to use her voice in an instrumental way. He loved her voice and the sounds in abstract. A different mentor might have brought out more word painting. Very suddenly, he moved from her to Tomowa-Sintow, who once found, Karajan then used and excluded Janowitz. I never much enjoyed Tomowa-Sintow, her Karajan Four Last Songs is never now mentioned.

Recital discs recorded post Karajan show she was involved in the storytelling and emotional content of the songs.

Mike
Title: Re: Gundula Janowitz
Post by: Tsaraslondon on June 23, 2010, 11:55:28 PM
How did the Janowitz thread turn into a discussion of Callas, more or less her polar opposite?

Not my fault for once. I wasn't the first person to mention her, but, once goaded, I confess it's hard to stop me coming to her defence.

Title: Re: Gundula Janowitz
Post by: Tsaraslondon on June 24, 2010, 12:22:15 AM
;D ;D

Back to Janowitz. Again, I think we experience different things from the same sounds. She does have a cool voice and is majorly concerned with the beauty of the sounds, but I don't here her as either detached or bland.

In the main she has a terrific technique, though on the famous 'Creation' disc, on a Mozart Aria recital and in a live Don Giovanni, she evinces a weakness in one phrase or other in actually getting round the notes. I also have a live recital with a fast Handel aria and it is not a comfortable experience.

She certainly uses vibrato; if you can hear her in anything and find a boy soprano or Emma Kirkby to compare with, you hear the difference. What sounds utterly pure is a very carefully crafted sound, abetted by her very specific vocal equipment.

I always look for any surfacing performances, though did abjure a Karajan, Monteverdi 'Poppea' performance, that apart, I think I have about all her discs.

Despite promoting her, Karajan preferred to encourage her to use her voice in an instrumental way. He loved her voice and the sounds in abstract. A different mentor might have brought out more word painting. Very suddenly, he moved from her to Tomowa-Sintow, who once found, Karajan then used and excluded Janowitz. I never much enjoyed Tomowa-Sintow, her Karajan Four Last Songs is never now mentioned.

Recital discs recorded post Karajan show she was involved in the storytelling and emotional content of the songs.

Mike

Thanks, Mike, for bringing us back to the topic in hand.

I have to confess that Janowitz is not really a favourite of mine. I have her Vier letzte Lieder, and she is also on my Karajan recordings of Die Schopfung, Die Walkureand Gotterdammerung. I would agree with you, that she is not detached or bland, adjectives that, at times, can be used to describe the singing of Kiri Te Kanawa, for instance (though here, I have recently begun to appreciate the sheer beauty of Te Kanawa's voice), but I don't really respond well to the actual sound Janowitz makes, especially at the very top. Though somewhat fuller, it reminds me a little of the sound of Stich-Randall on the Karajan Rosenkavlier, which I always found almost too silvery. Of course we all hear voices differently, and I wish I could describe it better, but to my ears that silveriness is almost shrill, though that is the wrong word too, as shrill suggests piercing, which it is not. Popp is another singer with a voice often described as silvery, but for some reason I find the timbre of her voice altogether more grateful.

My favourite voices all tend to be ones that are idiosyncratic or instantly recognisable, and Janowitz certainly has an instantly recognisable sound. I just wish I could work out why I don't respond to her as well as I might.

Title: Re: Gundula Janowitz
Post by: Tsaraslondon on June 24, 2010, 12:50:36 AM
Just re-listened to Janowitz's Vier letzte Lieder, and, this time round, I admit to finding it very beautiful. Nor is the singing unfeeling or bland, but, and this could be because it's the version I first came to know the work by, my inner ear kept harking back to Schwarzkopf/Szell, her inimitable way with the music, her more intelligent (yes, that word) use of the text. It is a work I love, and I have several versions, but Schwarzkopf's with Szell is the one I always return to - one of my desert island discs.

Title: Re: Gundula Janowitz
Post by: cosmicj on June 24, 2010, 03:19:03 AM
In the main she has a terrific technique, though on the famous 'Creation' disc, ... she evinces a weakness in one phrase or other in actually getting round the notes.

I was the one raving about her big Creation Part 1 aria above and I agree that Gundula slips up at the beginning of the aria, but that doesn't detract from what happens later on. 
Title: Re: Gundula Janowitz
Post by: cosmicj on June 24, 2010, 03:22:57 AM
Just re-listened to Janowitz's Vier letzte Lieder, and, this time round, I admit to finding it very beautiful. Nor is the singing unfeeling or bland, but, and this could be because it's the version I first came to know the work by, my inner ear kept harking back to Schwarzkopf/Szell, her inimitable way with the music, her more intelligent (yes, that word) use of the text. It is a work I love, and I have several versions, but Schwarzkopf's with Szell is the one I always return to - one of my desert island discs.

I find the Schwarzkopf/Szell a complete misfire, with awkward phrasing and a lack of rapport between the performers.  If I were to try to turn someone on to the Last Songs, I would use the Janowitz/HvK recording (beautiful conducting, too).  But my personal fave is the Schwarzkopf recording from the early 1950s.  What you describe as "intelligent" I would describe as more outwardly expressive, emphatic, dramatic.   [BTW, I haven't heard the Isokoski version yet, although I am very interested in it.]
Title: Re: Gundula Janowitz
Post by: knight66 on June 24, 2010, 07:55:23 AM
I think that Scarpia mentioned the Previn Auger version and I agree with him, that is terrific and I think underrated.

A musical friend of mine who is into vocal music, also dislikes Janowitz. He hears the voice as shallow and pushed and that a lot of the music is a size too big for her. I don't agree, but that is what he hears.

He does like Callas though. So as always, beauty is the the ear....etc.

Mike
Title: Re: Gundula Janowitz
Post by: Tsaraslondon on June 24, 2010, 09:12:57 AM
I find the Schwarzkopf/Szell a complete misfire, with awkward phrasing and a lack of rapport between the performers.  If I were to try to turn someone on to the Last Songs, I would use the Janowitz/HvK recording (beautiful conducting, too).  But my personal fave is the Schwarzkopf recording from the early 1950s.  What you describe as "intelligent" I would describe as more outwardly expressive, emphatic, dramatic.   [BTW, I haven't heard the Isokoski version yet, although I am very interested in it.]

Funny how two people can hear completely different things in the same performance. Beautiful though the Janowitz/Karajan version is, I feel it misses much of the deeper meaning of the poetry. I find the rapport between Schwarzkopf and Szell exemplary, and certainly hear no awkwardness in the phrasing.

This is what I wrote in the Vier letzte Lieder thread:-

I have all three of Schwarzkopf's recordings , 1953, live 1956 and 1965, with, respectively, Ackermann, Karajan and Szell. I also have Popp/Tennstedt, Janowitz/Karajan and Fleming/Thielemann.

I have to say, that, though I enjoy all these recordings, it is the Schwarzkopf/Szell recording I like best, as, for me, they get right to the heart of these songs as no others do. With Strauss's gorgeous writing for the soprano voice, it is all too easy to forget that these are Lieder, and to ignore the texts and just revel in the sheerly beautiful sounds, provided by a Te Kanawa, a Fleming, or indeed a Janowitz. I also feel the more mature Schwarzkopf better suited to the songs than the young one. After all, these are Autumnal songs, and the voice of youth doesn't seem quite right somehow. Certain phrases in Swhwarzkopf's later recording are now so firmly etched into my memory, that they spoil me for all others and Schwarzkopf and Szell seem to be completely at one in their vision. Two places stick out for me, Schwarzkopf's voicing of the words "langsam tut er die mudgewordenen Augen zu" in September, where Szell matches her tone perfectly in the orchestra. The other is in the final song, Im Abendrot. The way Schwarzkopf sings the words "so tief im Abendrot" has an almost cathartic release, not matched in any of her other recordings (nor by any other soprano), and superbly seconded by the rich carpet of sound Szell provides for her. "Ist dies etwa der Tod", asks Schwarzkopf/Eichendorff, and as the orchestra creeps in with the quote from Tod und Verklaerung, one can only assume that it is. For me it is one of the classic discs of all time, and would definitely be one for my desert island.


I see no reason to revise that opinion, even with the Janowitz fresh in my memory now.

Title: Re: Gundula Janowitz
Post by: Tsaraslondon on June 24, 2010, 09:14:45 AM

A musical friend of mine who is into vocal music, also dislikes Janowitz. He hears the voice as shallow and pushed and that a lot of the music is a size too big for her. I don't agree, but that is what he hears.

He does like Callas though. So as always, beauty is the the ear....etc.

Mike

I wouldn't go as far as your friend, but I know exactly what he means. And, as you know, I too love Callas, so maybe we have similar ears.  :)

Title: Re: Gundula Janowitz
Post by: knight66 on June 24, 2010, 09:18:21 AM
Though I have a lot of Callas recordings I won't part with and agree with your remarks about Schwarzkopf in the Szell disc. Oh, that friend of mine can't stand Schwarzkopf. Too studied and elaborate seemingly.

Where is Andre? He has a fine ear for voices.

Mike
Title: Re: Gundula Janowitz
Post by: zamyrabyrd on June 30, 2010, 08:47:59 AM
... I find the rapport between Schwarzkopf and Szell exemplary, and certainly hear no awkwardness in the phrasing... For me it is one of the classic discs of all time, and would definitely be one for my desert island.[/i]


I vote for the above and would also pack into my suitcase for the desert island (hopefully with some palm trees).

ZB
Title: Re: Gundula Janowitz
Post by: Scarpia on June 30, 2010, 10:19:24 AM
Though I have a lot of Callas recordings I won't part with and agree with your remarks about Schwarzkopf in the Szell disc. Oh, that friend of mine can't stand Schwarzkopf. Too studied and elaborate seemingly.

The Gods just don't want me to listen to Callas.  I got out my deluxe box set of Tosca with Callas (the EMI recording with de Sabata, 1953 or so).  Well, about half way through the first act I found that every other page in the booklet libretto was missing.  I get to read a page of dialog, then a page of dialog is missing, then a page, then a page missing.  Thanks alot to EMI (Every Mistake Imaginable).  In any case, I get what people say about Callas' ability to act with her voice, but the sound of her voice doesn't strike me very pleasantly.  Before I turned it off in disgust it was the tenor, di Stefano, who really made an impression.

Title: Re: Gundula Janowitz
Post by: Sergeant Rock on June 30, 2010, 10:32:10 AM
In any case, I get what people say about Callas' ability to act with her voice, but the sound of her voice doesn't strike me very pleasantly.

Back in the day some opera fans pitted Callas against Tebaldi: vocal acting vs vocal beauty ( to simplify the rivalry). I guess I'm shallow because I almost always preferred Tebaldi. Not that there aren't Callas recordings I love: the '55 Lucia (Karajan conducting); Norma, of course. In Puccini and Verdi roles, though, I prefer Tebaldi (and Freni and Scotto and Moffo).

Sarge
Title: Re: Gundula Janowitz
Post by: zamyrabyrd on June 30, 2010, 10:34:03 PM
Back in the day some opera fans pitted Callas against Tebaldi: vocal acting vs vocal beauty ( to simplify the rivalry). I guess I'm shallow because I almost always preferred Tebaldi. Not that there aren't Callas recordings I love: the '55 Lucia (Karajan conducting); Norma, of course. In Puccini and Verdi roles, though, I prefer Tebaldi (and Freni and Scotto and Moffo).
Sarge

I don't think preferring Tebaldi is a shallow opinion at all. Recently I was listening to quite a few recordings of Magda Olivero and was speculating why verismo singers are not necessarily bel canto and vice versa. Tebaldi somewhat marred her "greatest soprano" reputation by not being as careful with the little notes. Being good at one doesn't preclude the other, or does it?
Callas, however, proved that one can do both.

Magda is beautiful and expressive in "Sempre Libera", but what happened to the roulades? (Check out zamyrabyrd's comment below.)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IlsioKE-cUs

ZB
Title: Re: Gundula Janowitz
Post by: Tsaraslondon on July 01, 2010, 10:16:02 PM
Itching to get into the debate vis-a-vis Callas, voice versus expression, but refuse to hijack the Janowitz thread. If anyone wants to continue the discussion, let's take it back over to the Callas thread, which can be found here http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php/topic,788.0.html (http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php/topic,788.0.html)
Title: Re: Gundula Janowitz
Post by: knight66 on July 01, 2010, 11:01:04 PM
I have transferred across for my reply post.

http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php/topic,788.new.html#new

Mike
Title: Re: Gundula Janowitz
Post by: king ubu on July 19, 2017, 11:47:26 PM
double post from the Purchases thread (hi there, Spineur! - almost a rhyme  :laugh: ):

Arrived yesterday:


The Gundula Janowitz Edition (DG, 14 CD)

Classy presentation for sure! Sturdy box, all discs in foldout cardboard cases roughly the size of jewel cases (a wee bit higher), the Schubert lieder in two double cases, the remainder with a cover "flap" and just one disc included ... front covers reproduce one lp cover each, back covers have photos of Janowitz (different ones for each disc), inside you get track and line-up listings. Booklet has a short intro by Löbl (the one guy of the most useful Löbl/Werba opera guide) and one more longer text (forgot by whom, sorry) - this of course in three languages, and with more photos scattered through the whole booklet.

Other than plenty of excerpts (Bernstein's "Fidelio", the Karajan "Vier letzte Lieder" and more), I'm only familiar with the Mozart concert arias album, which starts off the box (and comes with a pair of bonus items not included on the single disc in the DG Originals series) ... information available here (as usual without recording dates):
http://www.deutschegrammophon.com/en/cat/4797348

I played the first of the four Schubert lieder discs last night - took me a moment to get used to Janowitz' dramatic approach, but of course the singing is great, and her approach strikes me as most valid one, just different (more operatic, I assume) from what I'm used to (but then, most of the Schubert I've heard so far was sung by men anyway, other than the Christine Schäfer take of "Die Winterreise", which may well be the Schubert recording played most often).
Title: Re: Gundula Janowitz
Post by: zamyrabyrd on July 25, 2017, 07:36:35 AM
Thanx King Ubu for a heads-up after a 7 year hiatus of this thread.
While we're on the subject:
https://www.youtube.com/v/aUJgye0A5PY