Crossovers and folk song recordings

Started by KevinP, May 13, 2022, 02:35:39 AM

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Perhaps this is really two different topics, but somehow I doubt two independent threads would generate much discussion. 

Anyway, non-opera, non-opperatta, non-lieder recordings. And non-West Side Story.

I'm willing to bet these are nobody's  favourite recording by any opera/lieder singer, even if you happen to like some of these records. And if it weren't for boxed sets repackaging back catalogues, I certainly wouldn't have as many as I do.

That said (and feel free to defend the opposite stance), any favourites among them?


I nominate Dawn Upshaw's disc of not so popular Broadway songs, I Wish It So.

She is much more successful than most operatic sopranos at adapting her means to the Broadway style.

What about Kurt Weill? Not really opera, not really operetta. Whatever they are I do like Teresa Stratas's discs, one with piano and one with orchestra.

Then there's always this, which crosses over the other way, if you like.

Streisand is perched over the microphone, but she treats the music seriously and her legato is actually pretty good. Were it not for the fact that I see no reason to feel guilty about pleasure, it would be one of mine.
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas


The Upshaw discs is well sung but unfortunately, I don't care for the music. I never liked Stratas in Weill (cf. Weill thread) and neither Streisand. Likewise, Joan Baez, a singer whose earlyish recordings I love fails rather miserably with Bachiana Brasileira and Ave Maria. I also have a Schubert recording with the German "folksinger" Hannes Wader that seems overall a failure to me. Probably I am forgetting something and being rather unfair but I stopped trying this kind of vocal crossover (I also disliked the 2 or 3 Uri Caine instrumental xover projects I encountered.)

There is a great twofer (I guess based on 3 LPs) with Netania Davrath singing Yiddish, Hebrew and Russian? folk music. This is probably my favorite by a classical singer. Wunderlich also has some great moments with popular stuff such as "Granada", often mixed with operetta. Again, I fear I usually dislike opera singers doing Xmas favorites and similar stuff (and I rather like Xmas music with choirs).
Edit: Deller did some folksongs along with his Elizabethan stuff that is also quite good if one cares for Deller, so did the Baltimore consort which I like.
Tout le malheur des hommes vient d'une seule chose, qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos, dans une chambre.
- Blaise Pascal


Quote from: Jo498 on May 15, 2022, 06:41:06 AM
I never liked Stratas in Weill (cf. Weill thread)

Strange then that Lotte Lenya thought otherwise and actually unearthed some songs for Stratas's first disc. Stratas also recorded them in the original keys, which Lenya could no longer manage when she came to record them. I'm not saying Stratas was better than Lenya, but she did have Weill's widow's imprimatur.

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


yes, Stratas was handled as "heiress" to Lenya. But of course, Lenya is also not very good, so this needn't be more than a marketing gag as Weill had been almost 30 years dead when Lenya met Stratas in the late 1970s.
The older Lenya wasn't a great singer but at least she could properly pronounce the language although she overdid the aspect that made Weill especially in Germany an attachment to the socialist ideologue Brecht. Stratas sings well and the few French and English songs on the recital I heard were o.k. but her German is completely unacceptable and basically ruins all songs in German.

It's probably hard to understand for people not sufficiently familiar with the language (as I rarely get it when people complain about the Italian of some non-Italian singers) how problematic Stratas is. What should be plain to anyone who listens to the recordings, though, is that 1930 Lenya is in a rather different style and more convincing than the exaggerations of 25 years later (although the 1950s Lenya recordings are still very valuable Weill documents). The best Weill singing I have heard was by Hedwig Fassbender (no relation to Brigitte) around 2000 but apparently she didn't record any Weill.
Tout le malheur des hommes vient d'une seule chose, qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos, dans une chambre.
- Blaise Pascal