FRIDA LEIDER  "Her Rarest Recordings"  (1921-1926)
MOZART:  Arias from The Marriage of  Figaro/Don Giovanni;  VERDI: Arias from Il trovatore/Don Carlos;  STRAUSS:  "Es gibt ein Reich" from Ariadne auf Naxos; WAGNER:  Music and scenes from The Flying Dutchman, Tannh”user, Die Walküre, Siegfried, G–tterd”mmerung and Parsifal/Wesendonck Lieder
Frida Leider, soprano/ unidentified orch & cond.
PREISER 89509 (F) (ADD) TT:  76:29
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Frida Leider(1888-1975) was considered to be the finest Wagnerian soprano of her generation. After making her 1915 debut at Halle as Venus in Tannh”user, and appearing with several other smaller companies, she soon was singing to great acclaim in major European opera houses, frequently performing at Covent Garden, in Berlin, appearing at the Met for two seasons (1932/34). After World War II, her love and loyalty for her Jewish husband, violinist Rudolf Deman, curtailed her career in  Germany. She gave occasional concerts, staged some operas in Berlin and became known as a fine teacher.

Her voice was that of a true Wagnerian dramatic soprano, yet she was equally at home in Mozart and Verdi, as evidenced by her superb Donna Anna in Don Giovanni, and vivid Leonora in Il trovatore heard on this CD, sung in German. She possessed a true trill, something that can be said of  few Wagnerian sopranos. Of course high notes held no terror for her, yet one always feels she is not simply trying to impress the listener with her power and stamina.  Wagner recordings included here are exemplary, of a quality seldom heard today.  It is fascinating to hear Leider in "Es gibt ein Reich" from Ariadne.  It is obvious had she chosen to do so she would be a fine interpreter of other major Strauss roles.

This CD, which on the back cover is called "Frida Leider III,"  supposedly contains Leider's "rarest recordings," although all have been issued previously on the same label in a 3-CD set (Preiser 89301) which contains "the complete recordings from 1921-1926."  If you're interested in this remarkable soprano surely the latter is the set to have as it also contains Beethoven's two big soprano scenes as well as arias from Oberon, Rienzi, Aida, A Masked Ball (all sung in German),  and more Wagner including a major part of the love scene from Act I of Die Walküre dating from 1923 with Lauritz Melchior recorded well over a decade before the Danish tenor's famous recording of the entire first Act with Lotte Lehmann and Bruno Walter leading the Vienna Philharmonic. Wesendonck Lieder fill out the CD.

Documentation on the newer issue leaves much to be desired.  Track listings are given only on the back cover of the jewel box, track timings aren't given anywhere.  There also is a discrepancy in recording dates for two of the works:  Wagner's "Schmerzen" and "Tr”ume" from Wesendonck Lieder are listed as being recorded in 1921 on the later issue, 1922 in the earlier, with the same disc numbers. Still, most of these Preiser reissues, in splendid, natural-sounding transfers we have come to expect from this label, are essential in any vocal collection.

R.E.B.