Clemens Andrijenko


Picture of Clemens Andrijenko
Clemens Andrijenko, Ukraine's Caruso
by Adrian Bryttan

"The new Caruso ... exceptionally beautiful, sparkling tone quality ... lyrical tenderness ... master of the high C ... a golden throat!"

Who earned such superb accolades from critics in Berlin, Paris and numerous other cities in Europe: Corelli? Del Monaco? Björling? Pavarotti? The singer in the above reviews was Ukrainian tenor Clemens Andrijenko (1885–1967) and thankfully there now exists a small cassette dedicated to his wonderful artistry. The recording comprises arias and songs recorded in 1927, 1936 and in 1956, when Andrijenko was 72; it also includes an interview for Radio Kyiv with his daughter, Kalyna Cziczka-Andrijenko, who lives in Munich, Germany.

From the very first notes it is clear that this is singing of the very highest control and musicianship. The voice was at its greatest strength and beauty in the four selections from 1936 recorded in Berlin for Telefunken: Turiddu's serenade and aria (in German) and two Neapolitan songs – "Oj Marì" and "Torna a Surriento" (in Italian). The color of the voice was exceptionally beautiful, with rich overtones like a fine cello. His breath control makes it seem like there is power to spare, even in the most dramatic passages. Above all, there is an attractive elegance to all the performances.

Some contemporary accounts stated that it was a large voice, like Enrico Caruso's. Renato Virgilio was Caruso's accompanist as well as Andrijenko's, and he expressed the highest praise for the Ukrainian singer. Judging from this cassette, I would rather say his singing was more in the direction of Beniamino Gigli and, in our time, Carlo Bergonzi. In his high range, Andrijenko creates a "mix", with elements of falsetto and some lighter overtones. This is a very stylish manner of "singing on the breath", in contrast to the full-voiced power of Caruso.

In any case, what is appealing is the honesty of the singing. Temperament and passion are all there, but never disturb the vocal production and even line. There are no "cheap" effects or clumsy vocalizations during dramatic moments. Pitch, diction, dynamic colors are beautifully controlled; the technique is always at the service of tasteful and expressive musicianship. How many tenors can we say that about today?

Andrijenko's daughter, Kalyna, told me how her father also played the violin, studying his arias in this way. He was a successful teacher as well, with an inquisitive mind, who investigated overtones and vocal techniques, and extended his studies to include children and even dogs. What is amazing is the vocal technique and power in the recordings of "Tosca," "Pagliacci" and Ukrainian songs when he was 72 years old!

No doubt he would be in high demand today. So why did he not achieve a greater fame? A look at his biography yields some answers.

Clemens Andrijenko was born in the town of Kopychyntsi in the Ternopil Oblast in 1885. He worked at first as a high school teacher and married the daughter of Kyrylo Trylovskyi, founder of the Sich Society (1900), the paramilitary Ukrainian Sich Riflemen (1913) and the Ukrainian Radical Party. From 1922 to 1926 he sang leading roles in the Lviv Opera Theater and was on the voice faculty at the Lysenko Musical Institute. The recordings from this time reveal a tighter voice with a narrow vibrato.

In 1926 he emigrated to Berlin, where he progressively attained the full maturity of his singing. He started concertizing in Western Europe, gathering superlative reviews. His wide repertoire ranged from the lyric to dramatic arias of Mozart, Bizet, Mascagni, Verdi, Puccini and Wagner, Neapolitan songs and German art songs. Ukrainian composers and folk song arrangements were always included on his programs.

Unfortunately, the political climate of the 1930s in Germany was turning away from non-Aryan "ausländers" and he was forced to abandon the stage. He started a vocal instruction studio in Berlin and after the war continued teaching in Rothenburg until his death in 1967. He was never able to return to his homeland.

More and more recordings of Ukrainian singers are being reissued. Salomea Krushelnytska was a shining star on the greatest operatic stages of the world and sang with the best artists of her time. (It is criminal that the latest Pearl CD still refers to her as Polish!) And Modest Menzinsky, her colleague who sang for many years at the Stockholm Royal Opera, had perhaps the most beautiful voice of all Wagnerian tenors.

So it is a pleasure to recommend a cassette where one can learn about and hear Clemens Andrijenko, an artist who is on that same international level.

Copyright © The Ukrainian Weekly, February 18, 2001, No. 7, Vol. LXIX

Andrijenko took part in the movie Die Stunde der Versuchung in 1936. The actors were: Gustav Fröhlich, Lída Baarová, Harald Paulsen, Theodor Loos, Elisabeth Wendt, Bruno Ziener, Conrad Curt Cappi, Margot Erbst, Margarete Lanner, and Hertha Guthmar. He appeared as Duca in the movie.
Reference 1
Reference 2
Reference 3
Clemens Andrijenko sings Maria Marì

Clemens Andrijenko sings Torna a Surriento

Clemens Andrijenko singsCavalleria rusticana: O Lola, rosengleich
Many thanks to Anton Bieber for the two song recordings and relative label scans.
I wish to thank Robert Schlesinger for the recording (Cavalleria).
Picture of Clemens Andrijenko's label

Telefunken, Berlin 1935-11-14         
020990  'O sole mio                                                             unpublished
020991  La paloma                                                               unpublished

Telefunken,  Berlin  1936-02
021110  Cavalleria rusticana (Mascagni): Abschied von der Mutter                E1920
021111  Cavalleria rusticana (Mascagni): O Lola                                 E1920

Telefunken, Berlin 1936-06-03
021261  Maria, Marì                                                             A2013
021262  Torna a Surriento                                                       A2013

2-79505 Dobrynja Nikitich (Grechaninov): ?                                     
Picture of Clemens Andrijenko's label

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