The Songs of Richard Tauber
with Anna Netrebko, soprano
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Comedian Harmonists
Lukasz Borowicz, conductor
Deutsche Grammophon, 2013
Heart’s Delight is the album that Polish tenor Piotr Beczala dedicated to the memory of his Austrian colleague Richard Tauber (1891-1948). Tauber is best remembered for his velvet voice of dark colour and for its excellent breath control, which allowed him to sing impressive pianissimi. His operatic debut was in the role of Tamino in Die Zauberflöte in 1913 and then he continued his career in Dresden, quickly becoming famous in German-speaking countries for his Mozart roles, although his international fame is due to its operetta roles. His debut in this repertoire took place at the Volksbühne theatre in Berlin in 1920, in Franz Lehár’s Zigeunerliebe. Some of the operetta roles he sang were written for him, as those in Paganini (which, however, he did not sing at the Vienna premiere in 1925 and sang only at the Berlin performance of 1926), Der Zarewitsch (1927), Friederike (1928), Das Land des Lächelns (1929), Schön ist die Welt (1930) and Giuditta (1934). He appears in more than seven hundred recording, the first recorded in 1919, and often conducted his own compositions (he wrote three operettas, music for movies and many songs) and works by Edvard Grieg and Johann Strauss.
Heart’s Delight includes arias from Lehár’s Das Land des Lächelns, Die Lustige Witwe, Paganini and Giuditta, Rudolf Kálmán’s Gräfin Mariza and some arias by other composers, including one of the same Tauber (Der Singende Traum). It is a recording with a light character, swinging gently between lulling moments as in Wien, du Stadt meiner Träume, melancholic as in Gern hab’ ich die Frau’n geküsst or more vivacious ones, as in Ob blond, ob braun, ich liebe to Frau’n. In each of these arias, Beczala sings in a delicate and fluid way, which from time to time is enriched with bright and confident high notes, as the one that closes Wenn es Abend wird.
In my opinion, Beczala’s temperament is quite different from that of Tauber, who, for his part, was easier, while Beczala prefers to maintain a certain, polite distance. Even Beczala’s vocal timbre, which possesses a lighter and crystalline colour, differs from Tauber’s. Nonetheless, the two singers are closer in their elegance expression and phrasing, so that if Beczala is not Tauber’s perfect heir (but who might resemble another singer in every respect?), he has good reasons to be considered in that way.
Anna Netrebko sings in the famous duet from Die Lustige Witwe.