Episode 181. Nicolai Gedda in Song

Episode 181. Nicolai Gedda in Song



Today’s episode is a special request from one of my most dedicated listeners, and one with which I am happy to comply. It is already seven years this month since the death of the great Swedish tenor Nicolai Gedda (11 July 1925 – 8 January 2017). One of the most cultivated singers of the twentieth century, Gedda not only had a rock-solid technique and an instantly recognizable timbre, but he was a brilliant musician and a polyglot of the first order, singing a wide range of repertoire and styles in a host of languages. He was also a prolific recording artist. Though he sang an enormous range of operatic roles, in this episode, I have decided to focus entirely on a slightly lesser-known aspect of his career: his work in art song. Gedda was a master of French style, but also celebrated for his performances of Russian music. And one of the three languages he spoke while he was growing up was German, which lends his work in that language a real authenticity as well. In listening to recordings of song repertoire, I was struck by the frequent added spontaneity and commitment of his live versus his studio performances, so the episode features a large number of selections culled from Gedda’s live recitals. Gedda is accompanied by some of the most exceptional pianists of his time: Alexis Weissenberg, Wolfgang Sawallisch, Gerald Moore, Geoffrey Parsons, Dalton Baldwin, Erik Werba, Hermann Reutter, and his compatriot and most frequent collaborator Jan Eyron. Another extraordinary aspect of Gedda’s singing was his longevity. We hear him in songs by Strauss, Berlioz, Schubert, Janáček, Duparc, Grieg, Schumann, Fauré, Respighi, and Gounod, recorded over a period of nearly 40 years. Here is another singer who was active into the twilight of his life and sang into his seventies with both the intimacy and clarion power that were his musical trademarks.


Nicolai Gedda and Erik Werba

Richard Strauss, Karl Friedrich Henckell: Liebeshymnus, Op. 32/3. Nicolai Gedda, Erik Werba [live Salzburg 17.08.61]

Ottorino Respighi, Carlo Zangarini, Alberto Donini: Stornellatrice, P.69. Nicolai Gedda, Gerald Moore [1967]

Charles Gounod, Théophile Gautier: Où voulez-vous aller? Nicolai Gedda, Werner Singer [SWR broadcast 1962]

Benjamin Britten, Ben Jonson: Hymn (Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings, Op. 31/6). Nicolai Gedda, Anthony Miranda, Frederic Waldman, Musica Æterna Orchestra [live New York 21.IV.68]

Jean Sibelius, Gustaf Fröding: Säv, säv, susa, Op. 36/4. Nicolai Gedda, Geoffrey Parsons [live London 21.XI.1971]

Sergei Rachmaninov, Alexander Pushkin: Арион [Arion], Op. 34/5. Nicolai Gedda, Alexis Weissenberg [1969]

Leoš Janáček, Ozef Kalda: S Bohem, rodný krajù [Then farewell, dearest land] (Zápisník zmizelého [The Diary of One Who Disappeared]). Nicolai Gedda, Josef Pálenícek [1984]

Edvard Grieg, Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson: Dulgt kjærlighed [Hidden Love], Op. 39/2. Nicolai Gedda, unknown pianist [live Zürich 1998]

Geoffrey Parsons

Robert Schumann, Heinrich Heine: aus Dichterliebe, Op. 48: I. Im wunderschönen Monat Mai; II. Aus meinen Tränen sprießen; III. Die Rose, die Lilie, die Taube, die Sonne. Nicolai Gedda, Geoffrey Parsons [live London 02.IX.1973]

Nicolai Gedda and Edda Moser

Robert Schumann, Emanuel Geibel: In der Nacht (Spanisches Liederspiel, Op. 74/4). Nicolai Gedda, Edda Moser, Erik Werba [1976]

Aldo Ciccolini

Gabriel Fauré, Leconte de Lisle: Nell, Op. 18/1. Nicolai Gedda, Aldo Ciccolini [1967]

Henri Duparc, Leconte de Lisle: Phidylé. Nicolai Gedda, Erik Werba [live Salzburg 17.VIII.61]

Hector Berlioz, Théophile Gautier: Au cimetière (Les nuits d’été, Op. 7/5). Nicolai Gedda, Silvio Varviso, Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra [live Stockholm 25.II.68]

Francis Poulenc, Paul Éluard: Une ruine coquille vide (Tel jour, telle nuit, FP 086/2). Nicolai Gedda, Dalton Baldwin [1976]

Hermann Reutter

Hermann Reutter, William Faulkner [unknown German translator]: Mit Segeln Mit Segeln dämmerfarb’, das Schiff der Nacht (Epitaph für einen Dichter). Nicolai Gedda, Hermann Reutter [world premiere Hannover 19.III.1964]

Jan Eyron

Franz Schubert, Johann Mayrhofer: Der Schiffer, D.694. Nicolai Gedda, Jan Eyron [live 04.VII.70]

Franz Schubert, Wilhelm Müller: Trockne Blumen (Die schöne Müllerin, D.795/18). Nicolai Gedda, Jan Eyron [1971]

Franz Schubert, Heinrich Heine: Der Doppelgänger, D.957/13. Nicolai Gedda, Gerhard Singer [1962]

Wolfgang Sawallisch

Franz Schubert, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: Wandrers Nachtlied II [Über allen Gipfeln ist Ruh], D.768. Nicolai Gedda, Wolfgang Sawallisch [live Roma 12.VII.74]

Nikolai Tcherepnin

Nikolai Tcherepnin, Konstantin Fofanov: Свечка догорала [The Candle Is Extinguished], Op. 21/3. Nicolai Gedda, Alexander Tcherepnin [1973]

Modest Mussorgsky, Nikolai Porfiryevich Grekov: Где ты, звёздочка? [Where are thou, little star?]. Nicolai Gedda, Geoffrey Parsons [live London 21.11.71]

Alexander Varlamov, Nikolai Nekrasov: Метелица [Snowstorm]. Nicolai Gedda, Erik Werba [Salzburg 18.VIII.59]

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