Favorite vocal recitals on CD or DVD

Started by Brewski, April 24, 2007, 11:04:11 AM

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Tsaraslondon



This is a gorgeous recital, which I once had on LP. If I remember correctly, the French items were on side 1 and the Spanish on side 2.

The French items certainly have their atrractions, but Duparc's Chanson triste, one of his most beautiful songs, is just too slow and doesn't erase memories of Maggie Teyte, who adopts a much more flowing tempo in her version with Gerald Moore, and when it comes to the Cinq Mélodies populiares grecques, I prefer the simpler, clearer tones of Victoria De Los Angeles or Mady Mesplé's girlish gaiety.

On the other hand I just love the Spanish songs, some of which involve quite a lot of vocalises. It really is quite something to just induge yourself in the sensuous beauty of the voice as it winds its way through some of these melodies. The purity of the sound up high is breathtaking and yet there is richness down below too. I can't speak for the authenticity of her Spanish, but she is not afraid to adopt a snarlish chest voice in the lower regions.

It was a pleasure to reacquint myself with this lovely disc.
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Tsaraslondon







The first of these discs, recorded in 1958, is now considered something of a classic, especially for the arias from Macbeth, which have probably never been bettered by anyone, except perhaps by Callas herself in the 1952 live recording of the opera from La Scala. Tu che la vanita is likewise one of the greatest performances of it I've heard, with Callas binding together its disparate elements quite beautifully. The voice is at its most stressed in the cabaletta to the Nabucco aria, but the cavatina is sung wiith great delicacy, Callas spinning out its phrases with Bellinian grace.

By the time of the second two recitals the voice had further deteriorated, though the artistry remains undimmed. There never actually was a third Verdi recital (though it had been planned) and only five of the nine arias on the last disc were approved for release by Callas. The others were released after her death.

I can understand why some find these later discs impossible to listen to. Notes above the stave are often strident and shrill and the middle register has become somewhat curdled. My reactions to them vary from one listen to another. Listening with only half an ear, I tend to notice only the vocal flaws, but if I give them my full attention, the artistry draws me in and the faults become less noticeable. In all three, her qualifications as a Verdi stylist are never in doubt.
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Pohjolas Daughter

Quote from: Tsaraslondon on October 13, 2022, 12:50:36 AM






The first of these discs, recorded in 1958, is now considered something of a classic, especially for the arias from Macbeth, which have probably never been bettered by anyone, except perhaps by Callas herself in the 1952 live recording of the opera from La Scala. Tu che la vanita is likewise one of the greatest performances of it I've heard, with Callas binding together its disparate elements quite beautifully. The voice is at its most stressed in the cabaletta to the Nabucco aria, but the cavatina is sung wiith great delicacy, Callas spinning out its phrases with Bellinian grace.

By the time of the second two recitals the voice had further deteriorated, though the artistry remains undimmed. There never actually was a third Verdi recital (though it had been planned) and only five of the nine arias on the last disc were approved for release by Callas. The others were released after her death.

I can understand why some find these later discs impossible to listen to. Notes above the stave are often strident and shrill and the middle register has become somewhat curdled. My reactions to them vary from one listen to another. Listening with only half an ear, I tend to notice only the vocal flaws, but if I give them my full attention, the artistry draws me in and the faults become less noticeable. In all three, her qualifications as a Verdi stylist are never in doubt.
I don't recall hearing her sing Tu che le vanita before--either that or it's been so long that I've forgotten!  :-[  Will have to dig around in my CDs a bit later (after coffee and breakfast).  Loved her singing in La Traviata!

PD

Tsaraslondon

Quote from: Pohjolas Daughter on October 13, 2022, 05:07:03 AM
I don't recall hearing her sing Tu che le vanita before--either that or it's been so long that I've forgotten!  :-[  Will have to dig around in my CDs a bit later (after coffee and breakfast).  Loved her singing in La Traviata!

PD

It's quite a famous version, "A performance of the utmost delicacy and beauty," according to Lord Harewood in Opera on Record. Although she only sang the role (at La Scala in 1954) she sang the aria quite often in concert. Eboli's O don fatale, which is on the second disc of arias, also became one of her favourites in later years.
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Pohjolas Daughter

Quote from: Tsaraslondon on October 13, 2022, 06:21:53 AM
It's quite a famous version, "A performance of the utmost delicacy and beauty," according to Lord Harewood in Opera on Record. Although she only sang the role (at La Scala in 1954) she sang the aria quite often in concert. Eboli's O don fatale, which is on the second disc of arias, also became one of her favourites in later years.
I took a look in a boxed set that I have of hers (that old longbox La Divina purchased what feels like a gazillion years ago now at Tower Records in NYC) and see that it includes a recording of her singing O don fatale.  I'll do some more digging later.  Ah, heck, I'll do it now.

Back again:  I dug threw a Cetra CD set that I have several volumes of  (The Callas Edition) and it's there in Vol. 4.  Georges Prêtre, London, 1962.  When is the one from that you have and is it a studio recording or live?

PD

Tsaraslondon

#665
Quote from: Pohjolas Daughter on October 13, 2022, 09:52:13 AM
I took a look in a boxed set that I have of hers (that old longbox La Divina purchased what feels like a gazillion years ago now at Tower Records in NYC) and see that it includes a recording of her singing O don fatale.  I'll do some more digging later.  Ah, heck, I'll do it now.

Back again:  I dug threw a Cetra CD set that I have several volumes of  (The Callas Edition) and it's there in Vol. 4.  Georges Prêtre, London, 1962.  When is the one from that you have and is it a studio recording or live?

PD

That one with Georges Prêtre conducting is a live concert performance.

The one I was referring to is from her second studio disc of Verdi arias



Tu che le vanita is the last item on her first Verdi recital.



Both discs are in Warner's Red Box Callas Remastered set.

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

Pohjolas Daughter

Quote from: Tsaraslondon on October 14, 2022, 02:10:25 AM
That one with Georges Prêtre conducting is a live concert performance.

The one I was referring to is from her second studio disc of Verdi arias.

Tu che le vanita is the last item on her first Verdi recital.

Both discs are in Warner's Red Box Callas Remastered set.


Do you know what year(s) she recorded that second volume (There aren't any dates listed there)?  I checked back to your original posting and saw that you had written that her first Verdi album came out in 1958, so she would have been about 35 then.

By the way, have you heard Angela Gheorghiu's Verdi Heroines album and if so, what do you think of it?  I remember really enjoying her recording of Tu che le vanita.  It's this one:



PD


Tsaraslondon

Quote from: Pohjolas Daughter on October 14, 2022, 02:27:45 AM
Do you know what year(s) she recorded that second volume (There aren't any dates listed there)?  I checked back to your original posting and saw that you had written that her first Verdi album came out in 1958, so she would have been about 35 then.

By the way, have you heard Angela Gheorghiu's Verdi Heroines album and if so, what do you think of it?  I remember really enjoying her recording of Tu che le vanita.  It's this one:



PD

She recorded the second volume of Verdi arias in 1964. The first one was recorded in 1958. It can get a bit confusing, because a lot of the recordings she did in the 1960s were not released until after she died and there are often several different takes of the same aria. The arias from Il Corsaro that appear on Verdi III were recorded in 1969, but, suprisingly perhaps, are more smoothly vocalised than some of the earlier ones.

I do know and own Gheorghiu's Verdi album and I like it very much. I'm not sure she would ever have made an Aida or Leonora from Forza in the theatre, but the arias work well enough out of context here.
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Pohjolas Daughter

Quote from: Tsaraslondon on October 14, 2022, 03:30:53 AM
She recorded the second volume of Verdi arias in 1964. The first one was recorded in 1958. It can get a bit confusing, because a lot of the recordings she did in the 1960s were not released until after she died and there are often several different takes of the same aria. The arias from Il Corsaro that appear on Verdi III were recorded in 1969, but, suprisingly perhaps, are more smoothly vocalised than some of the earlier ones.

I do know and own Gheorghiu's Verdi album and I like it very much. I'm not sure she would ever have made an Aida or Leonora from Forza in the theatre, but the arias work well enough out of context here.
Yes, I understand what you mean in terms of performing some of Verdi's more vocally demanding roles ("voice killers").

Speaking of which, it's still amazing to me the whole vocal range of roles that Callas sang/recorded--to her own early vocal demise.   :( Thankfully these days, most singers are much more cautious as to what they attempt to undertake and when in their careers (medical advances helping too).  If I'm recalling correctly, many conductors (and I suspect record labels and theatre managers, etc.) back then encouraged singers to record/perform roles that they never should have--to their detriment?

And thanks for the information!  :)

PD

Tsaraslondon

Quote from: Pohjolas Daughter on October 14, 2022, 04:55:11 AM
Yes, I understand what you mean in terms of performing some of Verdi's more vocally demanding roles ("voice killers").

Speaking of which, it's still amazing to me the whole vocal range of roles that Callas sang/recorded--to her own early vocal demise.   :( Thankfully these days, most singers are much more cautious as to what they attempt to undertake and when in their careers (medical advances helping too).  If I'm recalling correctly, many conductors (and I suspect record labels and theatre managers, etc.) back then encouraged singers to record/perform roles that they never should have--to their detriment?

And thanks for the information!  :)

PD


To be honest, I don't think Callas's choice of roles had anything to do with early vocal demise. She herself dropped Turandot from her repertoire as soon as she could, "because it's not very good for the voice, you know," and she never sang Abigaille again after singing it for one series of performances in Naples in 1949, saying the role was a "voice-wrecker."

There have been plenty of theories and no doubt all of them have a grain of truth, but I think it came down to things both psychological and physiological. Remember she had been singing major roles in Greece when she was still a teenager. The weight loss must also have played its part, but I think that, by and large, she sang roles that were suited to her voice.
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Pohjolas Daughter

Quote from: Tsaraslondon on October 14, 2022, 07:39:32 AM
Quote from: Pohjolas Daughter on October 14, 2022, 04:55:11 AM
Yes, I understand what you mean in terms of performing some of Verdi's more vocally demanding roles ("voice killers").

Speaking of which, it's still amazing to me the whole vocal range of roles that Callas sang/recorded--to her own early vocal demise.   :( Thankfully these days, most singers are much more cautious as to what they attempt to undertake and when in their careers (medical advances helping too).  If I'm recalling correctly, many conductors (and I suspect record labels and theatre managers, etc.) back then encouraged singers to record/perform roles that they never should have--to their detriment?

And thanks for the information!  :)

PD


To be honest, I don't think Callas's choice of roles had anything to do with early vocal demise. She herself dropped Turandot from her repertoire as soon as she could, "because it's not very good for the voice, you know," and she never sang Abigaille again after singing it for one series of performances in Naples in 1949, saying the role was a "voice-wrecker."

There have been plenty of theories and no doubt all of them have a grain of truth, but I think it came down to things both psychological and physiological. Remember she had been singing major roles in Greece when she was still a teenager. The weight loss must also have played its part, but I think that, by and large, she sang roles that were suited to her voice.
Didn't she sing Wagner when she was quite young though...in performances?

PD

Tsaraslondon

Quote from: Pohjolas Daughter on October 14, 2022, 07:53:08 AM
Didn't she sing Wagner when she was quite young though...in performances?

PD

She sang the Walküre Brünnhilde, Isolde and Kundry, all of which should have been well within her capabilities at that time. Unfortunately, aside from a 1949 studio recording of the Liebestod (in Italian), we only have a recording of her singing Kundry, also in Italian. (She makes a wonderful Kundry, by the way.) She always said Wagner was not that difficult to sing. The voice is never exposed as it is in Bellini and Verdi and there aren't that many high notes. Back in the late 1940s and early 1950s, when she was still singing these roles, the voice was that of a full dramatic soprano. Sutherland and Bonynge described it as "colossal" when she made her debut at Covent Garden in 1952. I doubt singing Wagner would have done her any harm.

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

Roasted Swan

I mentioned this collection of "final scenes" recently specifically about the premiere recording of "Alfano 1" and Turandot.  Today I listened to the whole disc and it is an absolute cracker from first to last.



I really cannot fault it - the ending of Turandot is literally spine-tingling (for me at least!).  The playing of the Scottish Opera Orchestra is just superb and caught magnificently by the Decca engineers.  This was recorded in 1990 so Barstow was just 50 and pretty much in her vocal pomp.  What I really admire is the range of her vocal characterisation - they are wonderfully different.  OK EVERYONE struggles to Salome sound like a 16 year old psychopath(!) but Barstow does a good job.  Medee is excellent but the last two - her Emilia Marty in Vec Makropulos and the eponymous Turandot are a different level. 


ritter

Quote from: Roasted Swan on October 18, 2022, 03:05:18 AM
I mentioned this collection of "final scenes" recently specifically about the premiere recording of "Alfano 1" and Turandot.  Today I listened to the whole disc and it is an absolute cracker from first to last.



I really cannot fault it - the ending of Turandot is literally spine-tingling (for me at least!).  The playing of the Scottish Opera Orchestra is just superb and caught magnificently by the Decca engineers.  This was recorded in 1990 so Barstow was just 50 and pretty much in her vocal pomp.  What I really admire is the range of her vocal characterisation - they are wonderfully different.  OK EVERYONE struggles to Salome sound like a 16 year old psychopath(!) but Barstow does a good job.  Medee is excellent but the last two - her Emilia Marty in Vec Makropulos and the eponymous Turandot are a different level.
Indeed, that is a very successful disc IMHO. And having the original Alfano of Turandot ending is quite interesting. Spine-tingling as you say, a bit OTT in fact, but hugely enjoyable.
ritter
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« ...tout cela qui prend forme et solidité, est sorti, ville et jardins, de ma tasse de thé. »

Pohjolas Daughter

Enjoyed listening to some of Sylvia Sass' recordings courtesy of youtube (shifting this over here from the complete operas thread).

A very warm, rich and deep voice which I enjoyed sampling.  I did also stumble across TsarasLondon's blog on her and I see what you meant about the dynamics and could certainly see how (particularly in the theatre) that this could be frustrating alas.  Would have loved to have been there when she sang for Callas!  And wish that she had headed her advice more.

PD

p.s.  If you type in Sylvia Sass into the youtube search engine there are a number of uploads there of her singing--particularly on what I believe is her own channel:  Sylvia Sass - Topic.