Author Topic: Favorite vocal recitals on CD or DVD  (Read 238971 times)

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Offline André

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Re: Favorite vocal recitals on CD or DVD
« Reply #440 on: August 07, 2019, 05:52:34 AM »
Since this thread is about vocal, not necessarily ‘operatic’ recitals, I will indulge by writing about this one  :D :

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From 1987, this is the first of an eventual series that would reach some 10 albums of american pop ballads (Johnny Mercer, Alec Wilder and other masters of the genre). I own 8 of them and treasure every single track. Farrell’s mastery of word-pointing, perfect diction and incredible control of soft dynamics (very hard to achieve for such a huge voice) are a pure delight. Everything is so clear that there is no need for the texts, they can be written down straight from her singing them. One of the most surprising career twists among the legendary operatic divas.

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: Favorite vocal recitals on CD or DVD
« Reply #441 on: August 13, 2019, 12:43:51 AM »


The Czech soprano Jarmila Novotna made few recordings but had a long and illustrious career. She made her debut in 1925 at the age of 17, in no less a role than that of Violetta and retired in 1956 at the age of 49. No doubt some will remember her for her appearance in the Hollywood movie The Great Caruso in which she played the diva Maria Selka.

This disc collects together recordings selected by Novotna herself and taken from her own collection, and shows the voice still firm and true in 1956, when the recording of Rusalka's Song to the Moon (with piano) was recorded.

The disc doesn't, however, get off to the best of starts as, to my ears, the voice sounds strained in the upper reaches of Smetana's Lark Song from The Kiss (also with piano), which was recorded in 1926. Nor do I find her Cherubino particularly characterful, though the voice itself is quite lovely here and sounds more comfortoble in this tessitura, as it is in Pamina's arias, though she dosen't quite find the pathos needed for Ach ich fühls.

For me the most treasurable items are the piano accomapanied Songs of Lidice (Czech Folk Songs) which exploit her rich middle voice. The voice is also beautifully captured in a 1945 recording of the the folk song, Umrem, umrem, this time with orchestra and chorus, but arguably best of all is the vocal arrangement of Fibich's Poème, a piece I know from my teenage years, when I used to play it on the piano, which is deeply felt and eloquenty performed.
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: Favorite vocal recitals on CD or DVD
« Reply #442 on: August 13, 2019, 10:25:40 PM »
An extraordinary vocal actor, indeed. He owned the role of Gianni Schiccchi. I can’t hear another singer in this opera without noticing how his (Gobbi’s) every voice inflections and word pointing steal every scene he’s in. In some roles (Scarpia, Iago) he is properly frightening, but in others (Michele, Amonasro) the streak of nastiness may seem overdone and I’m not sure that’s what the composer intended. But you never know: both of these characters have a fanatical streak. The average person is never comfortable with displays of insanity. It could be argued that Amonasro was a psychopath and a manipulator.

Gobbi designed his own stage costumes. He had a totally integrated, even holistic conception of the characters he portrayed. Although I have no evidence on the subject, I would imagine his moves and acting owed more to his own instinct than to a director’s instructions - he himself directed many opera productions.

I differ from you in your assessment of his Amonasro. I think Gobbi plays the terrifyingly single-minded patriot Amonasro to the hilt and, for my money, the Nile scene with Callas is the greatest on disc. Though pushing forward his agenda and reducing his daughter to tears, I hear the love he has for her when he sings Pensa che un popolo vinto, straziato, Per te soltanto risorger può....

As for Michele, well there is already the suggestion (as with Canio) that he is a bit of a bully. Gobbi brings out the brutishness but also manages to elicit my pity when he sings, with such feeling, the lines perche non m'ami piu. I can hear then in my mind's ear now. Admittedly, with less than great singers in the roles of Giorgetta and Luigi, Gobbi's Michele becomes the central character of Il Tabarro, but he is also the reason I prefer his recording to all others.
« Last Edit: August 14, 2019, 10:38:00 PM by Tsaraslondon »
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Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: Favorite vocal recitals on CD or DVD
« Reply #443 on: August 15, 2019, 02:01:32 AM »


The Trinidadian/British soprano Jill Gomez was a mainstay of my early opera going life, and I heard her on more than one occasion. I particularly remember seeing her as the Countess in Le Nozze di Figaro and Elizabeth in Henze's Elegy for Young Lovers with Scottish Opera, as Ilia in Idomeneo and the Governess in the The Turn of the Screw with English Opera Group and as Tytania in A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. The voice was not large, but she was a strikingly good looking woman with a great stage presence and also a good actress. She is probably best known for creating the role of Duchess of Argyll in Thomas Adès's Powder Her Face and singing the title role in William Alwyn's Miss Julie.

I have known and loved this recital since I bought the original LP soon after it was first released in 1974, and was delighted to find that it had been reissued on CD. The programme is attractive and Gomez has a lovely voice, which she uses imaginatively and musically. Indeed one wonders why such accomplished singing has received so little attention.

We start with a group of songs by Bizet, possibly of slight musical value but direct and charming in their appeal. Gomez is delectably light and airy but also delivers a deliciously sensuous and coquettish Adieux de l'hôtesse arabe, which is probably the most well known of the group. The Berlioz items, especially La belle voyageuse, are also sung with distinction and charm.

The Debussy Proses lyriques are not performed as often as some of Debussy songs, and they are quite hard to bring off. Gomez is fascinating and vividly personal, superbly seconded by John Constable's realisation of the tricky piano part. In many places I was reminded of Mélisande's music in Pelléas et Mélisande. A superbly characterised Noël des enfants qui non plus de maisons brings ths wonderful recital to a close.

Gomez brings something personal to all that she does and John Constable provide estimable support throughout. Highly recommended if you can get hold of a copy.
« Last Edit: August 17, 2019, 02:23:41 AM by Tsaraslondon »
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Offline knight66

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Re: Favorite vocal recitals on CD or DVD
« Reply #444 on: August 15, 2019, 02:56:45 AM »
That post brought back memories and as so often ones that overlap with yours. I had that recording on LP, but not subsequently. I agree Gomez had/has a beautiful voice with a good top extension. She was an excellent linguist and clearly trusted by a number of contemporary composers to present their work.

I saw her in Mozart and Tippet, in Stravinsky and as Violetta. I also saw her in concert. I am listening on Spotify to her very appealing Songs of the Auvergne, the voice sweet and creamy at the top. So, that and four other of her discs have been ordered including the French Song recital. All told, £8 plus postage.

Mike
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Offline André

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Re: Favorite vocal recitals on CD or DVD
« Reply #445 on: August 15, 2019, 03:08:21 AM »
+ 1 for her Canteloube songs (although I am still partial to Netania Davrath).

Her recital of Mozart songs is the best. These are very fragile flowers indeed, easily made uninteresting by less perceptive interpreters. Gomez makes them enchanting.

Offline knight66

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Re: Favorite vocal recitals on CD or DVD
« Reply #446 on: August 15, 2019, 03:17:32 AM »
+ 1 for her Canteloube songs (although I am still partial to Netania Davrath).

Her recital of Mozart songs is the best. These are very fragile flowers indeed, easily made uninteresting by less perceptive interpreters. Gomez makes them enchanting.

Yes, I am still partial to the Davrath which I have had in one format or another for 50 years. I think it was the first complete version, earthy and gritty as well as alluring and fun. She did not seem to record much other material.

I had forgotten the Mozart Songs disc of Gomez, I recall now having seen it. No trace of it for sale or on Spotify.

Mike
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Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: Favorite vocal recitals on CD or DVD
« Reply #447 on: August 15, 2019, 04:24:02 AM »
I was brought up on the De Los Angeles Chants d'Auvergne and I have them on CD, as well as Jill Gomez's version. I did have the Davrath version on LP, but never replaced it on CD for some reason. I also have the selection Anna Moffo did with Stokowski.

I also have a lovely version of Britten's early Quatre chansons françaises with Gomez  as the soloist and Rattle conducting and an interesting recital called A Spanish Songbook, which collects together various Spanish songs as well as songs by non-Spanish composers in a Spanish style.
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Offline knight66

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Re: Favorite vocal recitals on CD or DVD
« Reply #448 on: August 15, 2019, 05:00:00 AM »
The Spanish disc is one of those that I have ordered. I do have the Rattle four Britten songs. That was the first recording of the pieces and remained the only one for quite some time.

Sparked by this discussion, I have been reviewing what is available of Alfreda Hodgson, another better than merel stalwart of that era.

Mike
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Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: Favorite vocal recitals on CD or DVD
« Reply #449 on: August 19, 2019, 08:44:08 AM »


Claudia Muzio had a patchy recording career. She made her first recordings in 1911 when she was around 21 (there is some doubt as to her year of birth), an aria and a duet, then from 1917 to 1918 she recorded plentifully for Pathé. In the early 1920s she made recordngs for Edison,  but then there was nothing between 1924 and 1934 when she made what are her most famous recordings for Columbia. It would seem that the years of her greatest glory were probably when she was performing in Chicago in the early 1930s, and this is precisely the time she was silent to the gramophone. The Columbias were made a couple of years before her early death from an unspecified illness in 1936, when she was not in the best of health or in very happy circumstances.

Save for the 1911 recording of Si, mi chiamano Mimi (the first recording made by Muzio) this issue concentrates on the recordings on the Columbias. Occasionally we are aware this is not a voice in perfect health, of a shortness of breath and the inability to swell the tone at climaxes, but the voice is still unfailingly lovely and, in any case, what really singles her out is her interpretive ability. She brings something personal to all that she does. One sees the face and every fleeting change of expression. These are the qualities that make Muzio special.

Even in that very first recording of Mimi's Si mi chiamano Mimi, though the artistry is still unformed, one registers a change of expression when she sings the phrase ma quando vien lo sgelo. Already she is doing more than simply singing the notes. That said, coming, as it does, at the end of all the later recordings, one also notes how much she developed in the interim, as we actually have a direct comparison with her 1935 version of the aria, an altogether more detailed and moving rendition.

Lauri-Volpi described her voice as one "made of tears and sighs and restrained inner fire" and certainly some of the most famous tracks here are the tearfully emotional ones, like her Addio del passato, the letter reading almost unbearably moving, the aria almost more felt than sung. 

But she could also smile and charm, as she proves in the the delightful Bonjour, Suzon and Les filled de Cadiz. But hardly a track passes without some distinction. I only wish room had been found for Donaudy's O del mio amato ben, a Muzio speciality, sung without sentimentality or mawkishness, but beautfully shaded and phrased so that the song emerges as a mini masterpiece.

If you don't know Muzio's work, I urge you to right that wrong.
« Last Edit: August 19, 2019, 08:52:26 AM by Tsaraslondon »
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Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: Favorite vocal recitals on CD or DVD
« Reply #450 on: August 20, 2019, 09:36:02 AM »


With a title like "French Operetta Arias" you'd probably be expecting quite a bit of Offenbach and maybe some Lecocq, but what we get is a disc of largely forgotten music from between the two wars. Quite a bit of Messager and Hahn, but also a couple of tracks from the Cuban composer Moises Simons (both great fun), one by Maurice Yvain, probably best known for his song Mon homme, immortalised as My man by Fanny Brice and Barbra Streisand, and one by, of all people, Arthur Honneger, from his operette Les Aventures du roi Pausole. Annoyingly the track listing just gives the titles of the songs so you have to consult the lyrics to find out the composer and work the song is taken from. With so much rare material I'd have welcomed a little more background.

What we do get, however, is a collection of delicious bonbons, an extravagant melée of delights, all delectably performed by American mezzo-soprano Susan Graham, who has, like her compatriot Frederica Von Stade, made quite a speciality of French music. In fact I remember seeing Graham for the first time in a Covent Garden production of Massenet's Chérubin. Here she captures to perfection the style of the period and is by turns sexy, playful and coy. At one point, due to the magic of overdubbing, she even trios with herself, on Hahn's O mon bel inconnu from his operette of the same name, in which three women answer the same lonely-hearts and fall in love with the same man.

Undemanding music, perhaps, but pure joy and wonderfully performed by Graham with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra uder Yves Abel.
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Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: Favorite vocal recitals on CD or DVD
« Reply #451 on: August 20, 2019, 11:45:43 PM »




Edda Moser, who was active on the operatic stage during the 1970s and early 1980s, should probably be better known than she is, though many will no doubt remember her from the Joseph Losey film of Don Giovanni in which she played Donna Anna.

Not strictly a recital, this is a collection of excerpts from various Mozart recordings Edda Moser made during the 1970s. Many would no doubt pick Moser for their favourite Queen of the Night, a role she sings on the patchy Sawallish recording, and indeed one notes that most of the music chosen here is for Mozart's fierier characters.

It starts appropriately enough with the Queen of the Night's arias and they really are splendid. First of all the coloratura flourishes and high notes are tossed off with ease and yet she also chracterises the music brilliantly. There is authority in her O zittre nicht, rage in her Der hölle Rache. Where many coloraturas sound merely pretty, Moser sounds regal and dangerous.

Next comes Konstanze's Martern aller Arten which is properly defiant, the coloratura not only accurately executed but filled with affronted contempt. Donna Anna's Non mi dir displays Moser's fine legato and she also has the technique to do justice to the coloratura section.

The qualities that make her an excellent Queen of the Night and Konstanze stand her in good stead for Elettra, which she sang on Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt's recording and she embraces both the lyricism of Idol mio and the fury of D'Oreste, d'Ajace.

The range is exceptional too and during the course of this disc, Moser not only has to sing a low G in Vitellia's Non piu di fiori but a G in alt in the concert aria Popoli di Tessaglia, an aria Moser herself describes as "Unperformable, written without intelligence, not one beautiful note". Well I might not go that far, but the high lying flights make impossible demands on the singer, which Moser manages incredibly well. On the other hand the low lying phrases in Vitellia's aria tax her more and the notes below the stave emerge colourless, almost as if from a different singer.

To finish up we have a couple of examples of her contributions to some of Mozart's sacred music, which showcase her deep legato and firm line. The voice may not have the creamy beautfy of a Te Kanawa or a Fleming, but it is still a very attractive instrument and she is more responsive to the emotional core of the music than Te Kanawa at least.

This is, without doubt, one of the best Mozart vocal compilations I have come across and is definitely worth hearing.
« Last Edit: August 20, 2019, 11:47:58 PM by Tsaraslondon »
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Offline André

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Re: Favorite vocal recitals on CD or DVD
« Reply #452 on: August 21, 2019, 08:54:09 AM »
I have long treasured this recital, first in its LP incarnation (minus the Idomeneo, Tito and sacred arias) and now in its cd incarnation (that same recording). Her Ma che vi fece, O Stelle is jaw-dropping stuff. There’s a later set of performances on the Berlin Classics label (1979-1981), with Popoli di Tessaglia (again) and more concert arias. The voice is a smidge less supple, but this is still Mozart singing of immense vocal and dramatic character.

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: Favorite vocal recitals on CD or DVD
« Reply #453 on: August 24, 2019, 11:16:44 PM »


Fifteen years separates these two discs of Spirituals by Barbara Hendricks and the intervening years have done little to tarnish the voice's beauty. I suppose if one listens carefully and with a highly critical ear, a slight wear on the top register is detectable, a little of the gloriously rich bloom has gone but, for the most part, the consistency is remarkable.

However the two discs differ quite a lot in other ways. The first one might be seen to have a more sophisticated approach, treating the spirituals more as art song with piano accompaniments beautifully realised by classical pianist, and winner of the Leeds Piano Competition in 1975, Dmitri Alexeev, whilst the second adopts what one would consider a more traditional approach with the contribution of the Moses Hogan Singers. You might think, therefore that the second would be the more satisfying, but I prefer the approach of the first, which brings more concentration on the songs and Miss Hendricks's glorious singing. More than once the second disc, though beautifully executed, has a whiff of Hollywood, and it is the first disc I listen to most often. You might have different preferences.

The first disc has a good cross section of slow and up tempo songs, of the not so well known and favourites like Swing low. sweet chariot and Nobody knows de trouble I've seen. Hendricks gorgeous voice is in prime condition here, velvety and rich in the lower and middle registers and opening out into that gleamingly individual top register. Her diction is superb too and she makes no concessions to the music, singing with a burning conviction that suits the material well. Her exhortation of The lord loves a sinner  in Roundabout da mountain would convince any sinner to repent whilst her beautifully lulling Swing slow, sweet chariot would rock any baby to sleep. She also has the voice for joy in such songs as Ev'ry time I feel de spirit, which closes a disc guaranteed to lift the spirits.

The second disc provides variety by including songs for unaccompanied solo voice and for just the choir, but, for my money, there is more musical variety in the first one.


\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: Favorite vocal recitals on CD or DVD
« Reply #454 on: August 27, 2019, 12:55:32 AM »


There are some singers whose emotional connection to the music they are singing is so complete, so all-embracing that such minor details as vocal technique and beauty of voice are completely forgotten. Not that either of those two qualities are in the least bit lacking here, but they don't really register, so intense, so all-enveloping is the experience of listening.

Lorraine Hunt Lieberson was one such artist and, more than once during the course of this marvelous recital, she managed to reduce me to tears. In her voice, the act of singing becomes as natural as the act of speaking. There is no artifice, no show, just total commitment to the music and that rare gift of communication.

The disc starts with a highly personal and emotionally shattering performance of Mahler's Rückert Lieder. I prefer Mahler's orchestral version of these wonderful songs but even with piano accompaniment (wonderfully realised by Roger Vignoles here) I would place this performance with Janet Baker's of the orchestral versions under Barbirolli as the pinnacle of Mahler interpretation. Indeed the desolation of Um MItternacht  is utterly overwhelming and the performance of all the songs totally gripping, with the audience sitting in rapt silence.

The Handel items, though more theatrical, more outwardly dramatic, are no less sincere. She makes musical sense of the vocal leaps in Scherza infida and pours calming balm on the ears in As with rosy steps from Theodora, a reminder of her devastating Glyndeboure performances of Irene.

She married Peter Lieberson the year after this recital and she sings here two of his Rilke settings, written specifically for her as well as an aria from his opera Ashoka's Dream, which she performed in Santa Fe the previous year. The lovely Rilke songs were recorded complete at the Ravenna Festival in 2004 but it is good to have this tantalising extract from Lieberson's opera.

To close we have two encores, a stunningly heartfelt performance of the spiritual Deep River which became something of a Hunt Lieberon speciality and a radiantly ecstatic performance of Brahms's Unbewegte laue Luft.

Hunt Lieberson died at the age of 52 when she was at the absolute height of her career, which makes every recording she made, most of them from live performances, absolutely essential. This one is no exception
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline JBS

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Re: Favorite vocal recitals on CD or DVD
« Reply #455 on: August 27, 2019, 05:26:40 PM »
I have yet to hear a recording by LHL that is not excellent and often enough a "reference recording".

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Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: Favorite vocal recitals on CD or DVD
« Reply #456 on: August 27, 2019, 11:29:26 PM »
I first became aware of her in a Proms broadcast when she was the soloist in Elgar's Music Makers. I was immediately taken by the radiance of her performance. Her rapt concentration reminded me a little of Janet Baker, of which there can be no higher praise.

A great artist and a dedicated musician. One of the all time greats.
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: Favorite vocal recitals on CD or DVD
« Reply #457 on: August 31, 2019, 11:28:39 PM »


The programme is an interesting one, though including Beethoven in a recital called German Romantic Arias might be thought to be stretching the definition a bit, and it's good to see some rarer items are included amongst the well-known. Accompaniments are in the safe hands of the Staatskapelle Dresden under Sir Colin Davis and Mattilla might be considered to be at her mid-career peak when the disc was recorded in 2001, eighteen years after she was the first winner of the Cardiff Singer of the World at the age of 23.

Unfortunately the recital doesn't really satisfy. I enjoyed most the scene from Euryanthe and Mendelssohn's concert aria Infelice!, but this might have more to do with their unfamiliarity than anything else as I had little else to compare them to . In the more familiar items I found myself constantly thinking of versions by other artists. One or two moments of smudged coloratura apart, Mattila gets round the notes easily enough, but her singing can be a bit rigid and lacking in colour and her legato is not always perfect, nor does she ever illuminate a phrase or bring something personal to the piece she is singing in the way the greatest of the past have done. There is no sense of desperation in Leonore's Abscheulicher! or radiance in the Komm, Hoffnung section, no real appreciation of the contrasting emotions in Ah perfido!. Agathe fares no better. There is no real poise and serenity, such as that achieved by Schwarzkopf, Grümmer or Janowitz. When Schwarzkopf sings Er ist's in Leise, leise we register the change of expression, the quickening of the pulse, where here the moment passes almost unnoticed.

Commendably she sings Rezia's Ocean, though mighty monster in English. It is more comfortably vocalised than Callas's late recording, also in English, but Callas fills its pages with significance where Mattila just sings the notes. She conquers its tehcnical challenges, but makes little impression dramatically.

Something of a disappointment then and a disc that is probably making for my jettison pile
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: Favorite vocal recitals on CD or DVD
« Reply #458 on: September 01, 2019, 10:56:35 PM »


The English soprano Valerie Masterson was a mainstay of my early opera going life and I saw her on stage quite a few times. A light lyric soprano with great flexibility and an immediately recognisable voice, she was also much admired in France, having made her French debut in Toulouse in the role of Manon. The following year she created quite a stir at the Aix-en-Provence Festival singing the role of Matilde in Rossini's Elisabetta, Regina d'Inghilterra opposite Montserrat Caballé. She was an arrestingly beautiful woman with a charming stage presence and I well remember her Semele at Covent Garden which was both vocally and visually stunning. Unfortunately I didn't get to see her ravishing Cleopatra in ENO's production of Handel's Julius Caesar (sung of course in English) with Janet Baker, but at least it was filmed. I did however see her as Manon, Juliette, Margeurite, the Governess in Britten's Turn of the Screw and as the Marschallin, a role she took into her repertoire quite late in her career, having had enormous success as Sophie when she was younger.

Recorded in 1986 when Masterson was approaching 50, this recital probably catches her just past her best. There is just the suspicion that the lovely voice is thinning out, a trace of a slight taint on its silvery purity. Nevertheless the recital is something of a treasure, especially considering Masterson was so little recorded.

With piano accompaniment provided by Roger Vignoles, it splits neatly into two halves, the first being of music from the baroque era (Arne, Handel and Thomas Bishop), where she is joined by Richard Adeney on the flute, and the second of songs by Gounod, Bizet and Satie. The baroque items display her neat and deft coloratura as well as her ability to shape the long line. When she sings O ravishing delight in Arne's song, the words mirror exactly the sounds coming from the speakers. It is good also to have the Handel cantata, reminding us of her many successes in his works.

The French items are all fairly light. They are a sung with elegance and style but a little more variety in the material might have been welcome here. She finishes with a delightful performance of Satie's La Diva de l'Empire which captures a coquettish smile in the voice.

A great reminder of a lovely singer.
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline André

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Re: Favorite vocal recitals on CD or DVD
« Reply #459 on: September 06, 2019, 04:13:03 PM »


I listened to Vanzo’s A te o cara (not on this recital) as an ear cleaner after Pavarotti’s take on the aria (in the complete Decca set). What a difference !! When the opera was over I pulled this disc for pleasure. Not everything on it is to my taste, but Vanzo is mostly innocent of any wrongdoing. French radio recordings from the era (late fifties) were rather crude affairs, with a mic stuck under the singer’s nostrils. The result is often glaring and doesn’t do justice to a singer’s attempts at voice shading. Despite this, some items emerge as miracles of voice production and artistry: Rodolfo’s Che gelida manina (in French), Mylio’s aubade from Le Roi d’Ys, a stunning Pourquoi me réveiller from Werther. Both numbers from Mireille - the enchanting duet La brise est douce et parfumée and Vincent’s cavatine Anges du paradis - reach a level of beauty and naturalness that seems to have evaporated into thin air in the decades since.



Very nice recital by the mezzo Denyce Graves. Her voluptuous voice covers a lot of territory, from effortless high notes to deep chest tones, rock-solid throughout the compass. Characterizations are okay but generic, never venturing into the abysses of the soul uncovered by Callas (the two Dalila arias, Charlotte’s Air des lettres, Marguerite’s D’Amour, l’ardente flamme). It’s always a pleasure to hear a really good mezzo sing the gorgeous Mignon and Sapho arias, though.

Her French is quite good, but she obviously places tone production ahead of clear diction, making the loud bits rather undecipherable. The model here is Crespin. French did not come naturally to Callas (she has an accent in interviews and there are a couple of diction blots in her Carmen), but in her two EMI recitals she has worked on words and music in such a way that you’d never guess she’s not a native. Irreplaceable artistry.