In celebration of Christa Ludwig’s 90th birthday March 16th 2018, a Limited 12-CD Edition celebrates her impressive mezzo voice, displayed in excerpts from Bach’s sacred works, operas by Mozart, Beethoven, Wagner and Strauss; as well as Schubert Lieder; Mahler’s “Kindertotenlieder” and “Das Lied von der Erde”; and Bernstein conducting Bernstein. The collection also includes for the first time internationally on CD a witty and endearing interview of Ms. Ludwig discussing the conductors.
Over a performing career spanning half a century, Christa Ludwig, born in 1928, consistently proved her greatness. “A source of as deep a satisfaction and fulfilment as the greatest of my operatic roles,” is how she described the place of song in her life, and at the heart of this collection are the emblematic composers of the Austro-German repertoire. Throughout, Christa Ludwig’s interpretative insight is as rich and compelling as her voice, exceptional for its beauty, range and flexibility. This 11-disc collection includes recordings never before released or new to CD, and all items have been remastered in 24BIT/96KHZ from original tapes. This 11CD-set marks the 90th birthday of Christa Ludwig, a German mezzo-soprano who had a major international career between 1940 and 1990. The recordings have been remastered from original tapes – except the album owned by Sony which has been remastered by them.
Christa Ludwig is a retired German dramatic mezzo-soprano, distinguished for her performances of opera, Lieder, oratorio, and other major religious works like masses and passions, and solos contained in symphonic literature. Her career spanned from the late 1940s until the early 1990s. She is widely recognised as one of the most significant and distinguished singers of the 20th century.
It takes a certain amount of forethought if Das Rheingold is to be more than a series of special effects scenes, though moments like the appearance of the giants through the mist or Alberich's transformations need to be as thrilling as they are here. As always in his Wagner, and perhaps especially in this very traditional 1990 Metropolitan Opera production of the Ring cycle, James Levine keeps to the forefront the underlying humanity of Wagner's gods and monsters. In the first scene, for example, he brings out the thoughtless, callous frivolity of the Rhine maidens as they precipitate the events of the four operas by taunting the gnome Alberich: it helps that they swirl around, green and gold, in a convincing representation of the bottom of the Rhine, but the emotions are the point. Ekkehaard Wlaschiha is a convincingly menacing Alberich partly because Levine brings out his vulnerability as well as his evil temper. James Morris is splendid as the younger less care-worn Wotan and Siegfried Jerusalem as Loge enjoys the sarcasm of his cynical commentary on Wotan's aspirations. The smaller parts have luxury casting: Matti Salminen as Fafner and Christa Ludwig as Fricka, for example.(Roz Kaveney)