Who has (had) the blackest bass voice?

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hangos
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Who has (had) the blackest bass voice?

Post by hangos » Fri Jun 22, 2007 2:43 pm

Having just read Lance's interesting post on vocal clarity and then listened to Gottlob Frick singing "Hagen's watch" from Gotterdammerung, I wondered firstly what was the note he descended to in the last strophe "...des Nib'lungen Sohn" - it's really subterranean!
Frick definitely had the deepest recorded bass voice of any bass I have ever heard on record, but I've yet to hear Chaliapin or Christoff - were they "blacker" than Frick?
Could the recordings (Decca were supposedly faithful to the original sound in the hall) have made the voice sound that bit deeper?
I await your sepulchral soliloquies on this thread! :wink:
Martin

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Post by jbuck919 » Fri Jun 22, 2007 2:58 pm

Bass range does not always make a standout appearance exactly where you expect it will. In one of Bach's relatively well-known cantatas, Christ lag in Todesbanden, the bass aria "Hier ist das rechte Osterlamm" requires the singer at the end to traverse two octaves in a single brief measure, from E5 to E3. The last note is so impossibly low for a baritone (doubly so in the tuning of Bach's time) that even Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau had to shift it up an octave. (I once had this worked up as my audition piece, never used, BTW.)

The late comic singer Anna Russell had a female voice change in middle age and claimed that she could sing "O Isis und Osiris" from The Magic Flute in its original key and range. She was probably joking, but it was a darn good joke. :)

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
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John F
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Post by John F » Fri Jun 22, 2007 3:10 pm

As the term suggests, what makes for a "black" bass voice is its color or timbre, not its lower range. So what is a "dark" timbre? All I can say is I know it when I hear it, usually in villainous roles like Hagen and Hunding. Gottlob Frick, for sure; Josef Greindl; Gustav Neidlinger, a bass-baritone rather than a true bass; Matti Salminen; guys like that.

And Frick really did sound in person as he does on the records, not just when singing Hagen and Osmin but also as the benevolent Sarastro.

Chaliapin and Christoff were not black basses, as their voices had a bright edge to them. Indeed, Chaliapin on records doesn't sound like a bass at all but a baritone; again not necessarily a matter of range (Thomas Quasthoff, a true bass, can nonetheless sing Tamino's aria in the original key) but of vocal color.
John Francis

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Post by jbuck919 » Fri Jun 22, 2007 3:20 pm

John F wrote:As the term suggests, what makes for a "black" bass voice is its color or timbre, not its lower range. So what is a "dark" timbre? All I can say is I know it when I hear it, usually in villainous roles like Hagen and Hunding. Gottlob Frick, for sure; Josef Greindl; Gustav Neidlinger, a bass-baritone rather than a true bass; Matti Salminen; guys like that.

And Frick really did sound in person as he does on the records, not just when singing Hagen and Osmin but also as the benevolent Sarastro.

Chaliapin and Christoff were not black basses, as their voices had a bright edge to them. Indeed, Chaliapin on records doesn't sound like a bass at all but a baritone; again not necessarily a matter of range (Thomas Quasthoff, a true bass, can nonetheless sing Tamino's aria in the original key) but of vocal color.
Or, we could be talking about William Warfield. :wink:

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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Post by Lance » Fri Jun 22, 2007 3:24 pm

You probably won't believe this, but a man billed as the highest, deepest, darkest, richest bass voice in the world is IVAN REBROFF. I have many of his recordings, and though I "suspect" some knob-fiddling in the studio [to bring out this lowest range], I must confess that I have never heard such a low bass sound so magnificent. Rebroff's recording of the Death Scene from Boris Godunov brings tears to one's eyes. Russia had many basso-profundos, which were required for a capella choir singing in that country. Alexander Kipnis had a deep, rich voice, Tito Gobbi, too, and especially Owen Brannigan (hear his "O Ruddier than the Cherry" by Handel). Brannigan had a resonance that I have never heard in any other singer's voice; it was imbued with a very special quality - and his diction was impeccable. Pinza had a great bass voice, but I wouldn't consider his the deepest. Nikolai Ghiaurov also had a boomy, deep voice. Gottlob Frick may have had a deep voice, but there were other areas within his range that I thought were lacking. It's not, to me, a voice to "remember," particularly. Samuel Ramey has a deep resonance, but George London also had a range with depth and refinement.
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Post by CharmNewton » Fri Jun 22, 2007 11:35 pm

Two from earlier eras are Pol Plancon (some of his records are vivid despite being recorded over 100 years ago) and Wilhelm Strienz, who recorded the role of Sarastro on Beecham's re-arrangement of Mozart's Magic Flute.

Malcolm McEachern had astonishing low notes, putting some of his recordings in the party disc category.

John

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Post by Holden Fourth » Sat Jun 23, 2007 4:19 am

Definitely Christoff!

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Post by val » Sat Jun 23, 2007 6:56 am

Giulio Neri had a very dark voice, ideal for the Grande Inquisitore from Don Carlo.

Another very dark voice was Raphael Arié, the best Comendatore, in Don Giovanni, that I ever heard.

Talvela (another great Inquisitore), Josef Greindl (the best Hagen), Kurt Böhme (an impressive Fafner in Siegfried) were other very dark voices.

Christoff, Reizen, Petrov, Pinza, Ludwig Weber, Ghiaurov were more lyrical voices, with a superbe legato, more adequate for noble characters, like Boris Godunov, Filipe II, Gurnemanz, Dosifei or Sarastro.

Auntie Lynn
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Post by Auntie Lynn » Sat Jun 23, 2007 8:44 am

That guy who sang the Russian liturgy at the beginning of Eisenstein's Ivan the Terrible...

Phenomenal...

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Post by Chalkperson » Sat Jun 23, 2007 12:36 pm

Having given a listen to most of the basses quoted here, I would have to say Pol Placon...From 1903-1908...

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Post by johnshade » Mon Jun 25, 2007 9:49 am

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My favorite base is Kurt Moll. Some of his outstanding performances are Magic Flute, Rosenkavalier, and Tristan und Isolde.
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The sun's a thief, and with her great attraction robs the vast sea, the moon's an arrant thief, and her pale fire she snatches from the sun... (Shakespeare)

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