Classical Arias / Fritz Wunderlich

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Dies Bildnis is bezaubernd schon, Tamino’s famous aria from Mozart’s Zauberflote, has become the signature piece of Fritz Wunderlich’s 13-year career. It was his first stage role as a student on July 21 1954, and it was the last piece he sang on September 5, 1966 during a guest performance at the Stuttgart State Opera in Edinburg. Wunderlich continuously worked on this aria to perfect it. The recording on this album is from April 17, 1959. Most interesting are the excerpts from Schubert operas, including previously unreleased arias from Fierrabras, and excerpts from the generally unknown opera Die Wunderinsel. Music journalist Kurt Honolka combined pieces by Schubert, mostly from Alfonso und Estrella, with parts of Shakespeare’s The Tempest. The resulting pastiche was first performed in January 1958 at the Stuttgart Opera and recorded later that year.


The German radio archives seem almost inexhaustible when it comes to recordings with Fritz Wunderlich. This compilation opens with the Tamino's aria Dies Bildnis ist bezaubernd schön from Magic Flute. The recording was made in Stuttgart on 17 April 1959 by a 28-year-old singer, and he was even then a fully-fledged lyrical tenor with all the characteristics we expect: the beautiful youthful tone, the perfect legato, the exemplary enunciation, the natural phrasing. Much of the rest of the contents on CD 1 is fairly rare repertoire, with Wudnerlich continuing to shine throughout.

CD 2 opens with the Prisoners’ Chorus from Beethoven’s Fidelio, where Wunderlich in 1957 was one of the two prisoners who had a solo. Well sung of course, and Hans Günter Nöcker’s mighty bass is also heard to good effect. The rest of the disc contains fifteen excerpts from Haydn’s Die Jahreszeiten—all the recitatives, arias and ensembles where Wunderlich takes part. I can’t find that this is a very good way of enjoying this masterly music, but it is well sung—the other soloists are soprano Agnes Giebel, whose silvery voice is an asset, and bass Kieth Engen in rather monumental form.

The original tapes have been carefully remastered by Gabriele Starke and Boris Kellenbenz and the end product is utterly attractive. There are informative liner notes by Lothar Brandt and several of the tracks have never before been issued.

– MusicWeb International

Product Description:

  • Release Date: October 13, 2017

  • Catalog Number: SWR19048CD

  • UPC: 747313904884

  • Label: SWR Classic

  • Number of Discs: 2

  • Composer: Franz Joseph Haydn, Franz Schubert, Ludwig van Beethoven, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

  • Conductor: Alfons Rischner, Carl Schuricht, Hans Müller-Kray, Josef Dünnwald

  • Orchestra/Ensemble: Bern State Orchestra, male section South German Radio Choir, South German Radio Choir, South German Radio Symphony Orchestra, Württemberg State Orchestra Stuttgart

  • Performer: Agnes Giebel, Barry McDaniel, Friederike Sailer, Fritz Wunderlich, Hans Günter Nöcker, Herbert Brauer, Horst Gunter, Kieth Engen, Maria Stader, Sieglinde Kahmann