More than six years after it was released, Love Was A Dream yesterday topped the UK classical charts. Looking back, the last time I wrote about this fabulous album (my favourite after Trust and the best classical album), it had just entered the top ten classical album chart, then standing at number 4, ahead of Serenata at 6 and You’ll Never Walk Alone at 7. This news is especially exciting for those of us who love this album as it’s probably one of the least known of Alfie’s albums. Recorded and released with Linn Records before Alfie signed to Decca, the album is now part of Alfie’s back catalogue under the Decca umbrella.
From Alfie’s autobiography, My Story, you really understand the depth of feeling he has for Franz Lehar and for Love Was A Dream. The opportunity to make the album came at a low point in Alfie’s professional life and clearly has an emotional connection for him, not least because Lehar was a favourite of his father. Alfie says:
That album has a real sentimental feel for me – vocally and emotionally and even technically….It was a really warm experience…one of my favourite albums I’ve done, certainly the most personal.
Anyone familiar with Alfie’s story knows that Lehar’s music is a personal favourite for him and his father, Alfred. As well as singing You Are My Heart’s Delight (track 5) for his first D’oyly Carte audition, Alfie spent many a Sunday lunchtime in the Boe household listening to Alf senior’s music and Alfie says that Richard Tauber was one of his father’s favourite singers. Tauber became particularly well known for singing the song; indeed it comes from a 1929 operetta, The Land of Smiles, written for his voice by Lehar. Here’s Alfie at the 2012 Proms in the Park:
The remainder of the tracks (click here to see the complete list) are taken from other Lehar operettas dating from 1905-1934. Tracks 2 and 9 are from The Merry Widow (1905), an operetta that Alfie performed in with ENO in 2009 although Vilia (track 2) is sung by the Merry Widow herself. Track 12 (Farewell, My Love Farewell) was the song that made Richard Tauber a star in 1922 and he then went onto originate a number of roles for Lehar – the rest of the track list comprises songs that were created for Tauber’s voice.
Love Was A Dream is, for me, the perfect album for Alfie’s voice and my favourite classical album. For me, it’s a much more romantic album than Serenata, which was promoted as his most romantic album yet (of the Decca albums, yes).
Love Was A Dream is available here:
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