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Michael Volle - A Portrait
Arias from works by Handel, Mozart, Schubert, Wagner, Verdi, Millöcker, Lehár
Michael Volle (baritone)
Münchner Rundfunkorchester/Ralf Weikert
rec. 24-27 September 2012 München, Bayerischer Rundfunk, Studio 1, Germany
No sung texts provided
Detailed track-listing at end of review
BR KLASSIK 900312 [70:58]

This attractive new BR Klassik CD offers a collection of arias sung by German baritone Michael Volle. This is not to be confused with the same label’s Great Singers Live compilation series derived from the famous Munich Sunday Concerts and taken from the archives of Bayerischer Rundfunk; the latter series featuring Mirella Freni, Nicolai Ghiaurov, Elisabeth Grümmer, Margaret Price, Lucia Popp and Hermann Prey. The present stand-alone release showcases Volle in a set of seventeen songs from the pens of seven composers.
In the accompanying notes Volle points out that he has tried to achieve a diverse selection. Variety is certainly on offer with opera arias from Mozart, Wagner and Verdi, orchestral transcriptions of Schubert lieder, Millöcker and Lehár operetta, Verdi’s Requiem and Handel’s Messiah. Volle generously highlights the significant role that one of his teachers, the Cologne-born baritone Josef Metternich played in his career from the late 1980s until his death in 2005. For those new to Volle: he made his debut at Mannheim in 1990. From 1999 to 2007 he was on the roster of the Zurich Opera House. Between 2007 and 2011 he was a member of the Bavarian State Opera choral ensemble; there taking on a variety of roles. My pick of Volle’s impressive and burgeoning operatic career includes his Beckmesser in Katharina Wagner’s 2008 Bayreuth production of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg and his Jochanaan at the Royal Opera House in the 2008 David McVicar production of Salome.According to the website of the New York Metropolitan Opera in April 2014 Volle will make his Met debut singing Mandryka in a revival of Otto Schenk’s production of Strauss’s Arabella.
I found every track in this Portrait both enjoyable and stimulating. This collection demonstrates the versatility of a truly splendid baritone. Rich and fluid with clear diction Volle’s interpretations are characterful and reveal a high degree of warm perception. The orchestral transcriptions of the three Schubert lieder are very much to my taste. They are captivatingly sung and I enjoyed the purity of Volle’s mid-to-high range. His interpretation of the wonderful Erlkönig, D 328 as orchestrated by Liszt, is suitably dark and rather menacing. Pretty successful too are the three Wagner contributions - the pick of which is Wolfram’s O du mein holder Abendstern from Tannhäuser. Impressively appealing Volle gives a moving rendition with an abundance of character. From Don Carlo and Falstaff the Verdi arias demonstrate the soloist’s durability and flexibility with a lovely steady tone and a barely noticeable vibrato. In addition Volle is most adept at darkening his timbre to suit the required mood.
Under Austrian maestro Ralf Weikert the Münchner Rundfunkorchester provide unfailing support. There is much beautiful and passionately assured playing and this is especially noticeable in the Verdi and Lehár pieces. The only negative is lack of sung texts with translations. The sound is satisfying clear and well balanced.
Michael Cookson 
Georg Friedrich HANDEL (1685-1759):
"Thus saith the Lord" aus "Messiah" [1:24]
"Vouchsafe, o Lord" aus dem "Dettinger Te Deum" [1:37]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791):
"Deh vieni alla finestra" aus "Don Giovanni" [2:01]
"Finch'han dal vino" aus "Don Giovanni" [1:26]
"Tutto è disposto ... Aprite un po' quegli occhi" aus "Le Nozze di Figaro" [4:14]
Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828):
An Silvia, D 891 (orch. Matthias Spindler) [2:57]
Gruppe aus dem Tartarus, D 583 (orch. Max Reger) [2:43]
Erlkönig, D 328 (orch. Franz Liszt) [4:01]
Richard WAGNER (1813-1883):
"Wie Todesahnung ... Oh, du mein holder Abendstern" aus "Tannhäuser" [4:41]
"Nein! Lasst ihn unenthüllt!" aus "Parsifal" [9:31]
"Wahn! Wahn! Überall Wahn!" aus "Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg" [7:47]
Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901):
"Confutatis" aus dem Requiem [4:14]
"O Carlo, ascolta" aus "Don Carlo" [8:47]
"È sogno? O realtà?" aus "Falstaff" [4:36]
"Ehi! Paggio! ... L'onore! Ladri!" aus "Falstaff" [4:42]
Carl MILLÖCKER (1842-1899):
"Dunkelrote Rosen" aus "Gasparone" [2:30]
Franz LEHÁR (1870-1948):
"Da geh ich zu Maxim" aus "Die lustige Witwe" [2:30]