A few days ago I just came over an old Electrola LP, which I transfered once to my harddisc with Lied recordings of the German tenor Karl Erb. It contains some really "classical" recordings of Lied titles by this tenor, which I always found very impressive and moving. I hadn't heard them for years, but they still hit me, when I hear them again. Meanwhile, during the last two days, I also read the biography of this singer by the German writer Maria Müller-Gögler (she also published poems) from 1949. It has a very lyric and bloomy language in which the life and art of the singer is described, but you get a good impression of his character when you read the book.
Erb was born as the illegetimate son of his 20 year old mother, who wasn't married, and suffered in his childhood from poverty and rejection from his environment in the small Svabian town Ravensburg where he lived. At the age of seven he got awardee at a choir school, where he sang in church and on burials. Later he became an unhappy little civil servant who sang in choirs. At the age of twenty-six he was "discovered" by the Generalintendant of the Stuttgart Hofoper while the opera had a guest performance in his home town and he inforced the choir in Cavalleria Rusticana. He didn't have any vocal lessons until then and, after a later encounter with a singing teacher who tried to discourage him, never again had in his life. After some years when he couldn't make up his mind to give up his save profession he finally made his debut (in 1907 when he was aleready 30!) in Stuttgart in "Der Evangelimann" (Kienzl). His second role was Lohengrin.
Today it sounds strange that a singer with a high lyric voice could sing roles from Belmonte to Parsifal, but Erb was very successful. He came to Munich, where he sang in the Premiere of Palestrina (Hans Pfitzner) and other operas of Pfitzner and Schreker besides Wagner and Mozart. He married the singer Maria Ivogün and was divorced ten years later. After a swimming accident in 1930 where he seroiusly hurt his leg he quit the opera stage and became a famous and estimated Lieder singer. His other "signature role" in the second part of his long long career was the Evangelist in the St.Matthew Passion of Bach, which he sang 370 times between his 38th and his 69th year. Erb sang until his death year and has kept his natural voice for a longer time than most of any other singers.
His discography has, roughly seen, two or three parts. From 1911 until 1917 he made about 60 opera recordings (and already a few lied recordings) for Odeon. After a long recording pause he made Lied recordings from 1934 to 1939 for HMV/Electrola. In 1941 he took part in the famous recording of Bach's St.Matthew Passion under Günter Ramin (with Gerhard Hüsch, Tiana Lemnitz, Friedel Beckmann). In 1951, at the age of 74, he recorded his last 6 sides for Electrola with Lied recordings, after he had sung in Carl Orffs "Die Kluge" in a broadcast recording in 1950 (available on CD).
I like his Lied recordings very much, and some of the Schubert Lieder like "Am See", "Des Fischers Liebesglück" or "Der Einsame" count for me as one of the best or best possible recordings of these Lieder.
I present here the LP Electrola Dacapo "Ein unvergessener Liederabend". The songs are:
1. Du bist die Ruh (Schubert) (Electrola EG 3756, 1936)
2. Der Fischers Liebesglück (Schubert) (EG 3611, 1936)
3. Nacht und Träume (Schubert) (EG 3611, 1936)
4. Ave Maria (Schubert) (EG 3756, 1936)
5. Der Wanderer an den Mond (Schubert) (DA 4421, 1937)
6. Der Jüngling und der Tod (Schubert) (DB 4466, 1937)
7. Das Wirtshaus (Schubert) (DB 5537, 1939)
8. Im Abendrot (Schubert) (DA 4459, 1939)
9. Der Einsame (Schubert) (DB 4456, 1937)
10. Am See (Schubert) (DA 4422, 1937)
11. Vor meiner Wiege (Schubert) (DB 4466, 1937)
12. Wanderers Nachtlied (Schubert) (DA 4459, 1936)
13. Mondnacht (Schumann) (DA 4427, 1937)
14. Adelaide (Beethoven) (DA 4428, 1937)
15. Verborgenheit (Wolf) (EG 3591, 1934)
16. O wüsst ich doch den Weg zurück (Brahms) (DA 4429, 1937)
On the piano: Bruno Seidler-Winkler
Download 4shared new Jan. 14
From Maria Müller-Gögler's book:
(1946: ) "Erb plante weiter: neue Konzerte, immer größere Vollendung. Da die Zonengrenzen die Freizügigkeit erschwerten, sang er in den kleineren und größeren Städten der französischen Zone, in der er ohne besondere Schwierigkeiten reisen konnte. Er sang bei einer Goethefeier in Konstanz Goethelieder, er sang in Biberach, in Tetnang, in Hechingen, er sang in Totenfeiern und in Weihnachtsgottesdiensten. Am meisten ergriff er in jenen Liedern, in denen die Abgeklärtheit seines Alters aufleuchtete. Der Eindruck, den etwa im Schubertlied „Vor meiner Wiege" die Worte hervorriefen: „Vielleicht, wenn das grüne Gras mein Dach . . ." oder im „Nachtstück" der Schluß: „Der Alte schweigt, . . . der Tod hat sich zu ihm geneigt", oder in „Über allen Gipfeln" die Schlußstrophe: „Warte nur, balde ruhest du auch", kann nicht beschrieben werden. Wer ihn empfangen durfte, wird ihn nie vergessen. Von einem jungen Sänger gestaltet, können solche Worte niemals so in die Tiefe wirken und an das letzte Geheimnis rühren."
|Erb at 70 with his 90 year old mother|
"Besonders innig verbunden ist er mit seiner betagten Mutter. Er trägt in seinem Herzen eine dankbare Verehrung für sie, die er weniger ihr selbst gegenüber ausspricht, als vielmehr vor aller Welt bekennt, so als sei es ihm auferlegt, alles Unrecht auszugleichen, das dieser braven und tapferen Frau vom Leben angetan wurde. Man muß von Erb einmal das Schubert-Lied „Vor meiner Wiege" gehört haben, um zu erfassen, welch tiefe Empfindung seiner Mutterverehrung zugrunde liegt, und wie fern sie ist von allem äußerlichen Kult."
|Karl Erb in 1947|
Many of you know the record producer Preiser, who published the series "Lebendige Vergangenheit" since the 70s (first on LP) and still today has a great catalogue with historical recordings on CD. At the German branch of Amazon (www.amazon.de) you can get every Preiser album as MP3 for a download price of 7,99 EUR. It is always the same price, whether the original album had one or even four CDs. There are great historical 4 CD-compilations concerning the Munich or Berlin opera, Wagner singing or Lied recordings. You can also get the complete recordings of Meta Seinemeyer (62 tracks) for 7,99 EUR and so on. There are two Erb sets (normally 2 CDs each) with Lied recordings. These are his complete Electrola and broadcast recordings, as far as I see. If you get appetite for more, this is really a bargain.
PS. Jan. 14: Does any reader own the CDs Liederalbum 2? I have downloaded it from Amazon, but miss the booklet with the informations about dates and the name of the pianists. Can anyone scan the booklet for me?
Other Preiser 2 CD-set about Tino Pattiera or Emil Schipper (meanwhile on http://afinatusoidos.blogspot.de/2013/11/emil-schipper-heldenbariton.html )or Alfred Piccaver are really worth their 7.99, too. Only drop of bitterness with all these: no (PDF-)booklets are enclosed and so no discographical data is available for download. A real failure!!