Sunday, April 1, 2012

The classic Berger

Music for your Holy Week:

Erna Berger singing "Et Incarnatus Est" from Mozart's "Great" Mass in C Minor, conducted by the great Josef Krips who was once music director of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra.

This is the part of the Credo when you say Christ was born and became man. Once you say He became man, you kneel. Well, we do at the church where I go. It is a reminder that you are speaking of something supernatural. Which Mozart seemed to be aware of, writing this.

At one time Erna Berger was quite renowned. She was a favorite of Furtwangler and Toscanini. She had a coloratura soprano famous for singing the part of the Queen of the Night in "The Magic Flute."

What about L.L. Berger, the famous department store family here in Buffalo?

Either one, we are talking about Bergers of quality and taste!

I love the smooth, unwavering quality of Erna Berger's voice. She does not have the broad vibrato many other singers have, not that that is always a bad thing but Erna Berger's voice is more like a steady line. Nothing sounds as if it is a big effort. On the recording she does not sound like a modern singer. Some of that is the age of the recording but there are other factors too. How she eases from one note to another, how she takes certain phrases ... and, well, all I can think is vocal styles change.

I love the curlicues starting around 6:20 and the leap at 6:38. You can tell she would have made a great Queen of the Night.

And sure enough.

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