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Don't shoot me! I'm only the man, who tries to translate in English... (according partly to Elton John)

Rudolf Schock sings George Frideric Händel
(abridged version)

The versatility of the German tenor Rudolf Schock (1915-1986) included more than opera and operetta: between 1946 and his death in 1986 he frequently performed on stage very successful with classical, folk, and religious songs (Händel, Haydn, Schubert, Schumann, Brahms, Richard Strauss, Mozart, Wolf a.o.). In the most recent years a lot of songs were puplished (for example, by the 'MEMBRAN'-label in the 10CD-box 'Rudolf Schock, Echo of a much-loved voice').

Rudolf Schock also sang in oratorios: the English label 'MEDICI MASTERS' produced with Schock Beethovens 'Missa Solemnis' (conductor: Otto Klemperer) and the Swiss label 'RELIEF' the German version of Händel's 'Messiah' (conductor: Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt).
The sound quality of both historical performances is excellent.

Georg Friedrich/George Frideric Händel (1685-1759)

Händel's career goes through three phases:  
  1. the rising composer
  2. the great, powerful composer
  3. the composer is going hill down
  4. the come-back of a great composer
The rising composer
Born in Germany, first opera-success in Hamburg with 'Almira' (1705).
From Italy (he loved the Italian 'opera seria' so much!) to Hannover and then to London. There he makes a glorious debut with the opera 'Rinaldo' (1711).

The great and powerful composer
Händel composes all kinds of music: church and chamber music, sonatas, cantatas, odes, music for various celebrations, oratorios, but especially (Italian) operas.
In the Royal Academy of Music, which is founded 1719 exclusive for and also by him, he obtains on top of that a perfect platform for the performance of (mostly his) Italian operas, of which the modelling has to obey the rigid rules of the 'opera seria'.  
He feels comfortable in London, and slowly but surely Georg Friedrich Händel evolves to George Frideric Händel. In 1727 he acquires the British nationality.

George Frideric Händel

The composer is going hill down
The singing and dancing in Henry Purcell's 'The Fairy Queen' and 'King Arthur' are still in the hearts and minds of the London devotees of musical theatre. They get enough of the to them never ending ornaments and coloraturas of the pathetic and vain 'dacapo-airs' from Händel's 'Rodelinda' and 'Giulio Cesare'.
Händel, whose large-scale operas need many singers, musicians, and technical experts, realizes, that the revenues are dramatically declining.
In 1728 the composer John Christopher Pepusch and the librettist John Gay write with their 'Beggar's Opera' a sharp and very successful persiflage of Händel's 'opera seria'.

Beggar's Opera 1728

Some months later the Royal Academy is still able to pay one single employee, and that employee is Händel. The Academy closes down in 1829.
Changing course Händel composes a.o. an 'opera buffa' (!) for the'Haymarket Theatre' (1738). Her name is 'Serse/Xerxes'. But this opera has no appeal for the audience too.
From 1740 on Händel concentrates on composing English oratorios!

Händel in 1740 (portrait by Phillip Mercier)

The come-back of a great composer
Händel's second hill up is effective: the oratorios 'Saul' and 'Israel in Egypt' get a warm welcome in London. However, in 1742 he saves the première of 'Messiah, a New Sacred Oratorio' for the 'New Music Hall' in Dublin (!). The revenues are for a number of Irish charities.
Händel composes 'Messiah' within three weeks.
Some parts of the oratorio sound operatic, but nowhere like an 'opera seria'. Simplicity, straightforward performance, and his wish making human nature better with a deeply felt religiosity are taking the lead now.

(please, link to more facts about George Frideric Händel)

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) about Händel:
  • "Händel is the unattained master of all masters. Go and learn from him how to achieve vast effects with simple means" (quoted by Ignaz von Seyfried)
  • "Händel ist the greatest composer that ever lived. I would uncover my head and kneel on his grave" (quoted by J.A. Stumpff in 1823)
  • "Händel is the greatest and ablest of all composers: from him I can still learn" (Beethoven on his deathbed, quoted by Gerhard von Breuning in 1827
Rudolf Schock sings Händel

Three versions of the arioso 'Ombra mai fu' from 'Serse' exist on CD
  1. 1951:  radio recording in Hamburg (on 'DAmusic' now)
  2. 1952: studio recording in Berlin (?) by 'HMV/Electrola' (on 'Membran' now)
  3. 1962: studio recording in Berlin by 'Eurodisc' (on 'Sony' now) with recitative
From the opera 'Rinaldo' Schock sings 'Lascia ch'io pianga' with recitative. The air is recorded in Berlin in 1966 (Eurodisc). Available on old LPs.

The arioso 'Dank sei Dir, Herr (Thanks Be to Thee)' is recorded in 1965 in Berlin (Eurodisc). Only available on old LPs.
Please note: it is highly unlikely, that this arioso has been composed by Händel!

A live-performance of Händel's (more or less) complete 'Messiah' is recorded on the 5th of January 1953 in Cologne. Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt conducts the choirs of the 'NWDR Köln und Hamburg' and the 'Kölner Rundfunk-Sinfonie-Orchester'. Solists are Anny Schlemm, Lore Fischer, Rudolf Schock, and Kurt Böhme.
The performance was transmitted live by radio.
The Swiss label 'Relief' produced this live-recording on CD.

Rudolf Schock sang 'Ombra mai fu', 'Dank sei Dir, Herr', and 'Lascia ch'io pianga' live on many concert platforms.

'Ombra mai fu' from 'Serse'

'Serse' is a kind of 'opera buffa (comic opera)' with complicated love affairs and malicious gossip. 
In the beginning of the opera 'Serse' the Persian king and general Serse sings a meditative arioso, which became as "Largo of Händel" a popular request at funerals.
'Ombra'(It.) means 'shadow' and can refer to sad events. But Serse ist not sad at all. Quite the contrary! He is in love with Romilda. However, it's a pity, that he is married with Amastre and loves the fiancé of Arsamene, his brother.
It is a fine summerday in 480 before Christ, and Serse has withdrawn from the battlefield to a shady spot under a beautiful (holy) plane tree. There he sings:

Frondi tenere e belle
del mio platano amato
per voi risplenda il fato.
Tuoni, lampi, e procelle
non v'oltraggino mai la cara pace,
nè giunga a profanarvi austro rapace.

Ombra mai fu
di vegetabile
cara ed amabile
soave più.


Tender and beautiful fronds
of my beloved plane tree.
let Fate smile upon you.
May thunder, lightning and storms
never bother your dear peace,
nor may you by blowing winds be profaned.

Never was a shade
of anay plant
deerer and more lovely,
or more sweet.

The ariosa is pithy, but endless beautiful. The English music historian Charles Burney (1726-1814) found in 1789 the good words for it: Händel has written 'Ombra mai fu' "in a clear and majestic style, out of the reach of time and fashion". 

Some interpretations of the lyrics on internet: "refuge and defense against the indirect dangers of reality"; "a joke or a vision?"; "Serse at one with nature".
I think: a better interpretation would be obvious:
The king is seriously in love. The extraordinarily beautiful tree, under which he rests, serves as a metaphor for the extraordinarily beautiful girl, that he is dying to see. The lines from the recitative about thunder, lightning, and storms (possibly) relates to the problems, which may arise for Romilda: Serse hopes, these problems do not occur to her.

About 'recitative' and 'arioso'
In Händels days the part of Serse was sung by a castrato or mezzo-soprano. Later on the tenors got a chance. Singers liked and like to sing 'Ombra mai fu' as a concert piece. Mostly without recitative, detached from the opera plot.

The recitative, which comes before the arioso, is called "accompagnata-recitativo", because the instrumental accompaniment is not leading, but - subservient to the text - following. The solist is allowed to render the lyrics without reckoning with melody and rhythm.
In an arioso melody and rhythm are going together in harmony again. However, the singer continues to lead, and the orchestra continues to follow.
In an aria the roles are reversed. Those patterns belong to the period, in which this music is written.
In fact 'Ombra mai fu' is a 'larghetto'. A largo has to be performed broadly and (very) slowly. A larghetto is less broad, slow, and more liguid."

'Dank sei Dir, Herr (Thanks Be to Thee)', a composition by Händel?

The information on record- and CD-covers is usually limited to: "arioso from Händel's Cantata con stromenti (= vocal solo with instrumental accompagniment)". This insigfinicant explanation applies to every vocal arioso of Händel. Sure, it is an arioso, and one can hear the instrumental accompaniment. But the problem is, 'Thanks be to thee' is very probably not composed by Händel.

The arioso was circa 1900 inserted into a German performance of Händel's oratorio 'Israel in Egypt' by Siegfried Ochs (1858-1929), chorusmaster, conductor, and composer in Berlin.

Siegfried Ochs

The Berliner music scene brought the house down: Ochs had digged up a forgotten real musical treasure, composed by Händel! The press: "....'Dank sei Dir, Herr' from the oratorio 'Israel in Egypt', one of Händel's masterpieces: the Israelites have escaped their Egyptian pursuers and crossed the Red Sea, and now a woman's voice sings a thanks to God hymn for the miraculous salvation.
It has the simplicity and nobility of Händel's 'Largo' and is a match for it".

LINK to 'Dank sei Dir, Herr'

However, it was remarkable, that Siegfried Ochs avoided to answer the numerous questions he got about his 'discovery'.

Suspicion arised, and when after his death no original manuscripts were found, musicologists knew almost certain: Ochs himself composed the song. He copied clever the style of 'Ombra mai fu' and completed the newborn song with appropriate lyrics.
Moreover, Ochs had acquired the reputation of a very good style copyist through his 'Humorous Variations for piano solo and orchestra'. He wrote these variations on the children's song 'Kommt ein Vogel geflogen (There is a bird flying this way)' in the style of fourteen famous composers, under which Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Joh. Strauß Jr, Verdi, Wagner, and so on. But NOT Händel. One could say - a little bit cynical - , Ochs had with Händel other plans.
For the record, it is not a hundred per cent certain, that Händel did not compose 'Dank sei Dir, Herr', and it is possible too, that Ochs only arranged a composition of Händel, to insert it into the oratorio.

The words
of 'Dank sei Dir, Herr', which Siegfried Ochs used for his performance of 'Israel in Egypt', are:


Dank sei Dir, Herr
Du hast Dein Volk mit Dir geführt,
Israel hin durch das Meer.

Wie eine Herde zog es hindurch,
Herr, Deine Hand schützte es,
in Deiner Güte gabst Du ihm Heil.

Dank sei Dir, usw.


Thanks be to Thee

Thou hast led forth with mighty hand
Thy people Israel, safe through te sea.

Lord, thou hast led as a shepherd with Thine hand,
Lord, Thine hand tenderly in ages past Thy people hath led.

Thanks be to Thee, etc.

Siegfried Ochs wrote - approximately - these lyrics for 'Israel in Egypt'. There are many variants. Some lyrics have broken with the authentic words, and express merely a common christian prayer of thanks.

'Lascia ch'io pianga'
is the famous aria in Act Two of the opera 'Rinaldo', sung by Almirene, daughter of Godfrey of Bouillon (1060-1100), one of the leaders of the First Crusade (1096-1099) to the Holy Land. In this aria Almirene tries to move her kidnapper, the sorceress Armida, queen of Damascus, to set her free:


Lascia ch'ío pianga
mia cruda sorte
E che sospiri
La libertà.

Il duo infranga
Queste ritorte
De' miei martiri
Sol per pietà.

(Leave me to weep
over my cruel fate
and let me sigh for liberty

May sorrow break
the bonds of my anguish,
jf only for pity's sake.)

The point of the plot
Godfrey allows the Christian hero Rinaldo to marry his daughter under the express condition, that Rinaldo liberates Jerusalem. Rinaldo and his forces blockades the Holy City. Argante, King of Jerusalem, calls in the help of the sly Armida.
She suggests to lure Rinaldo away from his soldiers by kidnapping Almirene. Almirene has been kidnapped, and Rinaldo does exactly, what Armida expects. But there are complications: Argante falls - in vain -in love for Almirene, and so does Armida for Rinaldo. The end of the opera really is a miracle: Armida and Argante regret their outrages and embrace Christianity (!). And Rinaldo/Almirene? They get married of course.

The (English) libretto         
is written by the youthful impresario Aaron Hill and based on the heroic poem of the same name (1562) by the Italian poet Torquato Tasso.
Giacomo Rossi translated the libretto in Italian, and Händel used it for his first (and successful) opera in London (1711). He smartly decorated 'Rinaldo' with some highlights from his opera-success 'Almira' in Hamburg.

Händel imported 'Lascia ch'io pianga' (with recitative) into the third version of 'Rinaldo'  in 1731. At first he composed the melody for an Asiatic ballet in 'Almira' (1705) and then he used it for his first oratorio 'Il Trionfo del Tempo e del Distinganno (The Triumph of Time and Disappointment)'.
The simplicity of the air seems to indicate, that Händel in 1731, shortly after the 'Beggar's Opera', already distanced himself something from the phenomenon 'dacapo aria'.
'Lascia ch'io pianga' became and becomes - detached from the opera -  a beloved concert piece. Mezzos and - during the last decades - countertenors like to sing it. Mostly without the recitative, whichs belongs to the opera. Performances by usual tenors are rather rare. José Carreras sang the air without the recitative. Rudolf Schock too, but - surprisingly - with the recitative.

Facts about 'Messiah, an Oratorio'

  • A definitive version of 'Messiah' does not exist! Händel continued cutting in and out musical notes, airs, roles, etc.
  • Händel seeks for his oratorio a severely simple montage. Only two 'dacapo'-airs survive blue-pencil. 
  • Charles Jennens (1700-1773), an artistically inspired large landowner, initiated Händel's composition of 'Messiah, an Oratorio'. Jennens wrote the libretto for 'Messiah', just like for 'Saul' and (presumably) 'Israel in Egypt'.
  • For the lyrics of 'Messiah' Jennens chose scriptural verses in the Old and New Testament on Jesus, the Lord's Anointed.
  • The first performance is in the Easterweek 1741 in the 'New Music Hall' in Dublin. Clerical authorities call this "blasphemous": a Biblical Oratorio in a secular setting.
  • Händel saw 'Messiah' as an Easter oratorio. Traditionally Great Britain  connects 'Messiah' with Christmas. 
(please, link to more facts about 'Messiah' Händel)

The German première and the Mozart-version
The German première of 'Messiah' is performed 1772 in Hamburg in the English language under the British conductor Michael Arne.
In 1775  the first 'Messias' in a German translation (by Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock) is performed under Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, the second oldest son of Johann Sebastian Bach.

In 1789 a brandnew 'Messias'-version appears. Orchestrator is the famous
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791).
Mozart "adds accompaniments" (enlarges a.o.t. the wind-section of the orchestra) and cut two arias out (The left-over 'dacapo'-arias survive again). 

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

The Mozart-version becomes a great popularity. Up to the 20th century Mozart's arrangement was in Europe (in Great Britain too!) in vogue. When the interest in baroque performances in "historical performance practice" awakened, she loses ground. But meanwhile the Mozartarrangement - in historical practice - is accepted again.

Rudolf Schock sings the tenor part in 'Der Messias'

To get an idea, in what busy artistic context the tenor Rudolf Schock during the weeks before and after the concerts of Händel's 'Messias' a.o.t. performed, I present an overview (the opera-appearances in Berlin, Hannover and Vienna might represent a number of performances): 

Rudolf Schock sang in Cologne live on the 5th of January 1953 (probably on the 6th too) the tenor part in the 'Messias' of Händel. The performance was directly transmitted by radio.

In December 1952 Schock performed in Berlin the title role in Verdi's 'Don Carlos' (with Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau as Rodrigo) and in Hannover Hoffmann in Offenbach's 'Les Contes d'Hoffmann'.

On radio he sang in the same month - in Vienna and Hamburg - Nureddin in Peter Cornelius' 'Barbier von Bagdad' and Alvaro in Verdi's 'La Forza del Destino'.

In January 1953 he appeared after some days in Vienna as Rodolfo in Puccini's 'La Bohème' and sang on radio in Hamburg Ferrando in Mozart's 'Cosi fan tutte' and Joszy in Lehár's 'Zigeunerliebe(Gipsy Love)'.

In addition to these performances Rudolf Schock's film career started in 1953. Film director Ernst Marischka invited Schock to play Richard Tauber in the Austrian music film 'Du bist die Welt für mich (You are my Heart's delight').
The (German) title song of this movie Schock recorded in September 1953. Song and movie made Schock on the spot a famous singer.

The performance of the 'Messias' in January 1953
(in German language, and recorded on CD-Label RELIEF CR 8001)  
The cast:
Soprano:     Anny Schlemm (then 23 years old)
Alto:            Lore Fischer (then 44 years old)
Tenor:         Rudolf Schock (then 37 years old)
Bass:            Kurt Böhme (then 44 years old)

Cembalo:    Annemarie Bohne
Organ:        Hans Bachem

Conductor: HANS SCHMIDT-ISSERSTEDT (then 52 years old)

Choirs of the NWDR Cologne and Hamburg
Chorusmasters: Bernhard Zimmermann and Max Thurn

Much gratitude to the Swiss label RELIEF, that discovered this important music document and released it 2008 on CD: in a formidable sound quality, which fulfils all wishes. How beautiful mono can be.
Alas however, this 'Messiah' passed by almost unnoticed!

In 2009 'Der Opernfreund (The Opera-Lover)' reviewed the CDs under the titel "Sundrenched History". The review was a real shout of joy. The critic considers this 'Messiah/Messias' as "first-class reference recording".
Surfing the net I read a - very positive - review in the 'Compleat Messiah-Guide' by Bret D. Wheadon. Wheadon presents and reviews on this site 240(!) 'Messiah/Messias'-recordings from beginning of last century to now.

In the highly informative booklet of Relief's CD-set Prof. Dr. Gerhard Allroggen writes:
"...here (under Schmidt-Isserstedt) no homage was rendered to historicizing doctrine; rather the singers in the choirs, the soloists and orchestral players and above all, the conductor, made Händel's oratorio their own; they made music according to the criteria which their aesthetic judgement, their taste had determined. To hear this concert again today, after 60 years, is a unique adventure. After countless experiences from performances of this work shaped by the doctrines of historicizing practice......which can by no means all be branded as superfluous or even damaging, one experiences here "historical performance practise"in a quite differend sense. One that will arouse interest and approval among younger listeners for whom such a performance  is new and unexpected...".

Certainly, this 'Messias' is no attempt to reconstruct the performance practise during Händel's or Mozart's times.

Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt conducted with earnestess the ageless. monumental-Version of his 'Messias', which in 1953 - and I like to cite Bret D. Wheadon - is performed "with power and passion...full of live  and feeling": grand and wide-ranged, reformational controlled. With an orchestral tone that sparkles, with choir singers, who can sing with comforting warmth (CD 1, tr. 9:'Uns ist zum Heil ein Kind geboren/For unto us a Child is born'), and solists, who express their lyrics movingly and with "opera-grandeur"

Three of them with opera-background indeed and one oratorio singer, who renders her by Händel maintained dacapo-air most differentiating (CD 2, tr. 2: 'Er ward verschmähet/He was despised'). The air is lasting fast 9 minutes, but bores not one single moment, because Lore Fischer succeeds in sounding more intensively with every reprise of the words 'Er ward verschmähet'.

Lore Fischer

The "powerful voice" ('Opernfreund') of Kurt Böhme sings the second dacapo-air, that Händel did not cut out (CD 2, tr. 23: 'Es schallt die Posaune/The trumpet shall sound'), in rapid tempo and with fiery bass. His strong and almost 'shameless' coloraturas represent lifelike the drunkenness with joy, in which Händel wishes the singer has to be.

Kurt Böhme

The very young Anny Schlemm is singing brightly and expressive (CD 1, tr. 11-14 and 16!). Wheadon speaks highly of the pleasantly clear quality of her ("bell-like") voice.
I agree to him: I never heard Anny Schlemm singing so beautiful.

Anny Schlemm

About Rudolf Schock the 'Opernfreund' writes, "he is singing his recitatives and airs technical perfect and with great empathy". The reviewer hopes, more recordings of oratorios with Schock still exist and will be released.
Bred D. Wheadon marks Schock's singing as "rich and commanding".
In the recitatives and ariosos, in which an account is given of the suffering of the mocked Jesus and his death on the cross (cd 2, tr. 6-10), Schock makes a deep impression: his empathyzing with the horrible developments and his evocative treatment of the lyrics let me think, he would have been a very good Evangelist in the 'Matthäus Passion'.

Rudolf Schock

Completely opera is Schock's vocal firework in the air: 'Du zerschlägst sie/Thou shalt break them' (CD 2, tr. 18) from the Book of Psalms in the Old Testament (Psalm 2, verse 8). In this aria, that Charles Jennens declared applicable to 'The Day of Judgement' in the New Testament: God destroys "the world and its rulers, who reject the Gospel".
Directly after Schock's aria a collective cheer of delight sounds in the famous 'Hallelujah' (Texts from the 'Book of Revelation' in the New Testament).

My overall impression: This 'Messiah' is a remarkable performance, full of unpolished, spontaneous singing and playing.

Rudolf Schock sings 'Dank sei Dir, Herr (Thanks Be to Thee)'

It is absolutely possible (see above), that this arioso is a serious composition by Siegfried Ochs in the style of Händel.
But it is a historical fact, that the music world of the German empire during the first decades of the 20th century regarded the arioso as a composition by Händel from his oratorio 'Israel in Egypt', rediscovered by Siegfried Ochs.

Rudolf Schock and his conductor Wilhelm Schüchter are convincing in their recording in the middle sixties. It is a pity that Sony/Eurodisc has not released the song on CD yet.

Wilhelm Schüchter (1911-1974)

(Rudolf Schock sang 'Dank sei Dir, Herr' - with different lyrics - in his last concert on the 9th of november 1986, a few days before his death.)

Rudolf Schock sings 'Lascia ch'io pianga' and 'Ombra mai fu'
An English reviewer of 'Gramophone, the world's authority on classical music since 1923' once stated the fact, that Rudolf Schock at the end of the - for the rest very well sung - 'Largo' from 1952 the usual trill left out. Indeed, the trill should have been possible.
But Rudolf Schock rarely sang ornaments of baroque music. In Germany that kind of ornamentation was in the middle of last century no aesthetic matter-of-course. The solists of the 1953-'Messias' under Schmidt-Isserstedt performed no ornaments at all and we also don't hear them in Schock's three versions of 'Ombra mai fu'
The desirable vocal style had particularly to come out of the inner self: with the colour range of the voice, the tempo's choice, the legato, the natural accents and measurement of the emotions. 

'Lascia ch'io pianga' (with recitative 'Armida, dispietata')

Rudolf Schock introduced in 1966 on the LP 'Unsterbliche Arien von (Immortal airs of) Stradella, Tenaglia, Händel, Gluck, Mozart, Beethoven' (Eurodisc 75 357 KR) the Almirene-aria from 'Rinaldo' clearly as concert piece. There was no other option, because in the opera it is a soprano aria. Correctly Schock rendered the aria rather reserved, so that the opera's tragedy stayed at a distance. All the more surprising it was, that Schock sang the foregoing recitative. And so the opera plot returned to live in the concert piece again! I suppose, Rudolf Schock and conductor Fried Walter thought it for the recording more attractive, when the fine melody on the words 'Lascia ch'io pianga' would not start directly at the very beginning.

'Ombra mai fu' without recitative

After a radio-recording of 'Ombra mai fu' in 1951 under the direction of Wilhelm Schüchter followed a year later the commercial Electrola-recording. Once again under Schüchter. Recently this recording appeared for the first time on CD in the 10CD-Box 'Rudolf Schock, seine schönsten Lieder aus Opera, Operette und Film' (Membran/Documents).
A CD with a.o. the radio-recording is published by 'DAmusic' ('Rudolf Schock Portrait'). The stereo-sound of the mono-recording is somewhat overused.

One can only guess why the secular love song of King Serse entered the religious area. it is understandable, that people interpreted
Händel's 'Larghetto' - without the recitative - as a 'classical song': so simple and beautiful the song can sound, when it is performed as such.
Rudolf Schock did so in 1951 and 1952, and compensated the absence of the closing, traditional trill with his silver 'mezza voce' of those years.

'Ombra mai fu' WITH recitative

The Sony/Eurodisc-recording from 1962 under Werner Eisbrenner (or Schüchter again?) can with difficulty be interpreted as a classical song. THIS IS OPERA and requires the recitative.

Werner Eisbrenner (1908-1981)

I understand, that (some) music lovers find Schock's account too strong: "His voice is too big for this aria - he sings it as though he is singing Wagner: he is singing Siegfried! - It is an aria that should be sung with sensitivity and great feeling".
I understand that, but I presume, those music lovers lost their view on the source of the arioso, more or less, under the influance of the evolution of 'Händel's Largo'. Mayby they like Schock's first accounts more.

A resolute Rudolf Schock is singing here: - and I repeat what Charles Burney said about 'Ombra mai fu' in 1789 - "in a clear and majestic style, outside the reach of time and fashion". It is the same "rich and commanding" style, which one hears from Schock in 'Der Messias'.
Schock's recitative and arioso in Händel's opera form an coherent whole under a breathtaking current curve. Everything fits: colour, tempo, legato, treatment of the text, and measured emotion.

Visitors of 'YouTube' heard Rudolf Schock's 'Ombra mai fu' more than a 47.000 times. The great majority of their reactions is (very) positive: 

"Increible, Excelente voz (Unbelievable, excellent voice)"

"One of those great voices, that got me hooked on opera  at twelve"

"Indeed, he is 'singing Siegfried with restraint'. Incredibly first-rate! Bravissimo!"

"One of the greatest tenors, is singing tis Aria with much sensitivity....goosebumps"

"Strange. What I hear is a big voice singing with restraint and excellent line. Very appealing"

"It felt that the conductor just had a heavenly experience....letting go of the orchestra and riding along with the singer...." (an expressive picture of accompagnata-recitativo and arioso: the singer sings and the accompaniment follows - KdL)

"He was a true first-class voice!!! His sound is well placed in the mask and has the rigth color to be an heroic tenor, but still keeps the warmth and taste to sing this soft felt aria"

"This is really exquisite singing - Good tempo. Largo does not mean lugubrious. Lyrical and  beautiful - not darkened, thickened, rounded off. This is a must listen for those who enjoy and those who sing"

"Che dire! Bellezza unica  e grande technica!"


Rudolf Schock's 'Ombra mai fu' from 1962 sounds on the CD 'Rudolf Schock, Stimme für Millionen (Voice for the Millions)' (Ariola/Sony 610 229-231).

Krijn de Lege, 21.8.2014

Next article will be about: Rudolf Schock sings Joseph Haydn ('Missa in angustiis' or 'Nelson Mass')

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