Fritz Wunderlich

Du bist die Welt für mich

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Long before there was Plácido Domingo or any of the other modern opera stars who have released pop material, Fritz Wunderlich released this album of mostly German popular songs in 1965. It was a commercial success, remarkably enough, and in its way it's as much of a tribute to the powers of the great German tenor as anything else he ever recorded. Better than almost any other operatic singer, Wunderlich understood that singing this kind of low-volume, orchestrally accompanied popular song required not power but, indeed, a voice considerably smaller than the one he generally used. He succeeds in bringing his voice, intact, down to the studio dimensions of the music, unleashing its full volume only as a kind of highly unexpected ornament. The songs are a mixture of contemporary material (the title track), older songs translated into German ("Schlaf ein, mein Blond-Engelein [Ay-Ay-Ay]"), Neapolitan songs, and various other international standards, including Sammy Cahn's "Be My Love." Wunderlich's attempt at American vernacular singing is lamentable, and his Italian, curiously, is rather heavily accented, but he does exaggerated Spanish passion beautifully in "Granada," and the charm of the lighter German pieces like "Weine nicht, bricht eine schöne Frau dir das Herz" (Don't Weep if a Beautiful Woman Breaks Your Heart) is just about irresistible. A great choice for reissue by Universal, as while a lot of German listeners may remember the original, a lot of others will take it as a delightful offbeat find, and for classical singers wanting to try their luck in pop it should be required listening.

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