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Melchior 1890-1990 Centenary Issue (Nimbus Prima Voce NI 7816)

The program of this Nimbus CD is:

Tannhauser - Dir tone Lob (1929); Inbrunst im Herzen (1924).
Die Walküre - Winterstürme wichen dem Wonnemond (1935)
Siegfried - Notung! Notung! (1924)
Götterdämmerung - Zu neuen Taten, teurer Helde (1939), with Flagstad
Tristan und Isolde - Love Duet (1929), with Leider
Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg - Am stillen Herd (1939); Morgenlich leuchtend (1939).
Otello - Dio mi potevi (1930); Niun mi tema (1930)
Pagliacci - Vesti la giubba (1929)
L'Africana - O Paradiso (1929)

For a Melchior newcomer it gives a very good impression of his main roles and his strength as a singer and interpreter. The best years of his opera carreer are covered by this selection, from the first acoustic german-sung Polydors (1924) trough his absolut best period (HMV 1929 until 1935) to his american Victor recordings (1939). The Parlophones from 1924/26 and the late Columbias are not present. If one would like to say a critical word about the choice of arias presented here, one would say : I miss Lohengrin and Parsifal. But we can not have all Melchior hits on one CD!
Compared to the heldentenors of today all the pieces presented here are extraordinary. If a difference is to be noted, it is that the earlier recordings have the purer line, the later ones the stronger dramatic involvement. Some belong to Melchiors very rare best: Tannhäuser (1929), Walküre, the Tristan-duet with the uncomparable Frida Leider, the Otello scenes, Pagliacci and L'Africana. To the somewhat weaker recordings of Melchior I would count Meistersinger (1939) and Götterdammerung (1939). The sound of his voice here is too baritonal and drier than in the older records.
The transfers of the 78rpm records are clear and on a good level. They show no large differences between the timbres of acoustic and electric recordings, due to Nimbus' special method. The booklet is well made, as always by Nimbus. It is very informative and includes rare and nice pictures of the singer.