Classical Music: Replay/ Robert Cowan makes his pick of the latest reissues

Lotte Lehmann sings Opera and Lieder (Recorded: 1927-1942) (Pearl GEMM CDS 9234, two discs); Liszt: Dante Symphony and tone-poems Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra / Kurt Masur (Recorded: 1979-1980) (EMI Forte CZS5 68598 2, two discs)

If you want to know what's missing from today's Wagner performances, put on Disc 1 track 12 of this compulsively listenable anthology. There, Lauritz Melchior and Lotte Lehmann animate Die Walkure's first-act Love Duet with a degree of candour that most modern singers would deem embarrassing. The whole of Act 1 is available elsewhere (on EMI or Danacord), but here the last quarter of an hour glows comfortably among some of Lehmann's finest studio recordings. The voice itself is strong, vibrant and just a little nasal; its range is uncommonly wide (Lehmann's low notes have a positively sensual allure), while the manner of its employment is consistently musical.

Finest among the operatic items are Reiza's "Ozean, du Ungerheuer!" from Oberon and "Agathe's Prayer" from Der Freischutz, while Lehmann's Marschallin is, like her Sieglinde, supremely alive (again the excerpt included is taken from a far longer sequence). Her vivid sense of musical narrative illuminates Schumann's song-cycles Dichterliebe and Frauenliebe und -Leben, both with Bruno Walter at the piano and recorded during the last war. Here, tonal lustre is partially compromised by minor vocal shortcomings, though Lehmann's diction remains impeccable. The sound is pretty good, especially in the earlier items (ie the pre-war operatic repertory) but Pearl's transfer of the Schumann cycles is generally inferior to Sony's (a single CD, currently unavailable).

No one listening to the stormier episodes of Liszt's so-called Dante Symphony could miss their echoing presence in Tchaikovsky's Francesca da Rimini, while Ce qu'on entend sur la montagne - which was actually orchestrated by Joachim Raff - has significant points in common with Smetana's more concise Richard III. And while few will deny that Festklange, Die Ideale and The Battle of the Huns have their longueurs, all three include pages of gloriously unbridled action-music, the sort that early film-composers freely imitated. Even more remarkable is the last of Liszt's tone-poems, From the Cradle to the Grave, where life's struggles are granted Bartokian urgency and the grave beckons with a chill wind and a handful of motives half-remembered. This is the very best of "late" Liszt and Masur's performance is among the finest we've had. EMI's closely balanced recordings report the grip of bow on string (especially among cellos and basses) while the Leipzig Orchestra combines disciplined execution with impressive warmth of tone.

Subsequent re-releases should, one hopes, include the Faust Symphony, the remaining tone-poems and all Liszt's works for piano and orchestra. In that respect alone, Masur steals a lead on the musically comparable but less comprehensive Haitink series (Philips).

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Call The Midwife: Miranda Hart as Chummy

tv Review: Miranda Hart and co deliver the festive goods

Arts and Entertainment
The cast of Downton Abbey in the 2014 Christmas special

tvReview: Older generation get hot under the collar this Christmas

Arts and Entertainment
Dapper Laughs found success through the video app Vine

comedy Erm...he seems to be back

Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)

tvReview: No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Arts and Entertainment
Bruce Forsyth and Tess Daly flanking 'Strictly' winners Flavia Cacace and Louis Smith

tv Gymnast Louis Smith triumphed in the Christmas special

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Rhys says: 'I'm not playing it for laughs, but I have learnt that if you fall over on stage, people can enjoy that as much as an amazing guitar solo'
musicGruff Rhys on his rock odyssey, and the trouble with independence
Arts and Entertainment
Krysia and Daniel (Hand out press photograph provided by Sally Richardson)
How do today's composers answer the challenge of the classical giant?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
News
Shenaz Treasurywala
film
News
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Watkins as Christopher Jefferies
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars Director JJ Abrams: key character's names have been revealed
film
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams won two BBC Music Awards for Best Song and International Artist
music
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

    Christmas without hope

    Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
    After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

    The 'Black Museum'

    After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
    Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

    Chilly Christmas

    Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
    Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all