D’albert: Die Abreise

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COMPOSERS: D’albert
LABELS: CPO
WORKS: Die Abreise
PERFORMER: Hermann Prey, Edda Moser, Peter Schreier; Philharmonia Hungarica/ Janos Kulka
CATALOGUE NO: 999 558-2 ADD Reissue
The cosmopolitan Eugen d’Albert (1864-1932) was in his day regarded as the pianistic successor to Liszt. But his main long-term claim to fame was the bringing of Italian verismo into German opera. Tiefland (Lowland) of 1903 is his most successful work, a tawdry tale of lust and jealousy set at the foot of the Pyrenees. Die Abreise (The Departure), on the other hand, was an earlier attempt (1898) at de-Wagnerising German opera – a frothy one-act comedy about a husband who pretends to go away in order to spy on his wife’s liaison during his supposed absence – but one which still can’t help alluding to the musical wit of Die Meistersinger. Both have had a smattering of recordings, though none in the past 15 years. This Tiefland dates from 1983 and finds its lead singers at the vocally securer end of their careers. Paul Schmitz, conducting on Berlin Classics, has better orchestral playing (Dresden Staatskapelle) and brings more intensity to the drama, and the currently deleted mono Philips recording by Rudolf Moralt has, in Paul Schöffler and Gré Brouwenstijn, the best singing. But there’s plenty to engage here.

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The CPO reissue (1978) easily outstrips the only rival Abreise, a mono Calig disc, and the three singers make the most of their characters’ situations. The Arts disc has no English translation, the CPO no text at all. Matthew Rye