Author Topic: Favorite vocal recitals on CD or DVD  (Read 383505 times)

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Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: Favorite vocal recitals on CD or DVD
« Reply #500 on: March 13, 2020, 01:35:00 PM »


I confess that when it comes to some of these late Callas recitals I have equivocal feelings and my reactions to them can vary from one listen to another.

On the one hand it cannot be denied that this is a voice under stress. Notes above the stave often emerge stridently, or she will tread so carefully that they seem just touched in rather than sung with confidence. This diffidence is more evident here than in the contemporaneous Verdi recital I reviewed a couple of months ago, possibly because Rossini's and Donizetti's orchestra offers her less solid support than Verdi's. Whatever the reason there is a pervading air of caution throughout this short disc. She is more comfortable in her middle and lower range, though even here vowels are sometimes discoloured. There is a world of difference between her defiantly triumphant singing of Rossini's Armida in 1952 and what we hear in these discs, though only thirteen years separates them.

Taking all these problems into consideration, what is left? Well, her superb musicality, her unparalled sense of style and her ability to get to the heart of all these various arias, not least the way she finds a different voice character for each one, though she never sang any of these roles on stage.

The recital starts with Cenerentola's final aria, which suits her quite well, the tessitura being a little bit lower. Aside from a couple of strident top notes at the end, it is also vocally quite fine, the scale passages sung smoothly and accurately (no sign of an aspirate here). Though the aria is the summation of the subtitle of the opera (la bonta in trionfo), Callas does not let us forget she was born to "sorrow and weeping". Is is just my imagination that I hear in her figlia, sorella, amica, tutto trovate in me a reproof to her sisters at the way they treated her.? Those who like their Cenerentolas to be more charming and coquettish might find her wanting, but there is sound dramatic justification for Callas's more serious interpretation.

There are more pronounced vocal problems in Matilde's Selva opaca, which follows (what a pity she didn't sing it in French), but the recitative is brillianty done and she captures a sort of sighing loneliness that is most attractive. I can't really imagine Callas as the tomboyish Marie in La Fille du Régiment (again I wish she had sung this in French), but convien partir has a lovely, gentle sadness about it. The tessitura bothers her more here, but again her phrasing is exemplary.

Semiramide is a role Callas should probably have sung when she was in her prime and she is suitably imperious and grand from the start of Bel raggio. What is lacking here is the dazzling freedom we hear from Sutherland (especially in her version from The Art of the Prima Donna album) and indeed from Callas herself when she sang Armida. Ornamentaion is altogether too chastely applied and one misses the addition of a cadenza between the two verses of dolce pensiero.

Lucrezia is another role that would have suited her well a few years earlier and, yet again she can't hide the strain in high lying passages, but the aria has a poignancy and poetry heard in few others. According to Max Loppert in Opera on Record 3, despite her vocal difficulties,

Quote
she manages to explore, in the lingering, legato shaping of the semiquaver tracery, a vein of expression, a range of timbres, unknown to other recorded Lucrezias.

The final piece is Adina's Prendi, per me sei libero from L'Elisir d'Amore,an aria she sings without artifice, her manner direct, simple and charming.

Ultimately, I feel, I am prepared to put up with the parlous state of the voice at this time in her career for the undimmed musical immagination and interpretive detail, but I accept that this will not be true for many and I would advise those people to steer clear.





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

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: Favorite vocal recitals on CD or DVD
« Reply #501 on: March 15, 2020, 12:17:53 PM »


Falla: Siete canciones populares españolas
Mompou: Combat deil somni
Ginastera: Canción al árbol del olvido
Guastavino: La rosa y el sauce
Guastavino: Se equivicó la paloma
Obradors: Corazón, porqué pásáis
Obradors: Del cabello más sutil
Turnina: Poema en forma de canciónes


It certainly makes a change to hear Falla's Siete canciones populares españolas sung by a man, and why not? It is not so unusual to have a father sing a lullaby to his son, and drovers are usually men. Though I might ultimately prefer to hear the cycle sung by Victoria De Los Angeles or Conchita Supervia, I rather enjoyed Carreras's sensitive performance.

The Mompou cycle, also a favourite of De Los Angeles, goes well too and I especially enjoyed his gently melancholic version of the lovely Damunt de tu nomes los flors. Elsewhere he can be caressingly sensitive or ebulliently passionate, as in the Turina Poema, which brings the recital to a splendidly forthright close.

He is miked fairly close and his diction so precise you can almost taste the words. Martin Katz makes a terrific collaborator rather than accompanist, some of the piano parts being quite fiendishly difficult.

A really enjoyable disc.
« Last Edit: March 15, 2020, 12:20:05 PM by Tsaraslondon »
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: Favorite vocal recitals on CD or DVD
« Reply #502 on: March 19, 2020, 09:14:10 AM »




The majority of this disc is taken up with Scotto's first recital for CBS, recorded in 1974, a recording that might be considered the one which spearheaded the second stage of her career, when she became a mainstay of the Metropolitan Opera in New York. Having been absent from the catalogues for some time, an intense recording schedule followed. There would be another recital (of Verdi arias) for CBS, and throughout the seventies and early eighties she features on many complete opera recordings for CBS, EMI and RCA, often alongside Domingo, with whom she also recorded a recital of duets.

Scotto's voice always had a slight tang to it. Admirably clean, it would never charm with the full rich tones of a Caballé, a Moffo or a Te Kanawa. The top of the voice, even in her earliest recordings, could glare and it was never the most comfortable part of her range. Nor was it ever a sensual voice, though she could sound sensual enough if necessary (not the same thing), but her command of line, impeccable diction and range of colour are most attractive. She may not quite ravish the ear in the high lying phrases of, for instance, Ch'il bel sogno di Doretta from La Rondine as does Te Kanawa in the famous recording which was used for the movie of A Room with a View, but she shades the line most beautifully and her control of her pianissimo is quite gorgeous. She characterises well too, so that each of these verismo heroines emerge as quite different characters. Occasionally intellect gets in the way and the interpretations can sound too studied, as they never do with Callas, but it would be true to say that, though she has absorbed the lessons of her predecessor in some of this material, she never copies her. Her interpretations are all her own.

It is good to have some less well known items such as the Mascagni arias and the aria from Le Villi, as it is to have the excerpts from the complete recording of Wolf-Ferrari's Il segreto di Susanna and Puccini's Edgar. Her Butterfly is better served by the Barbirolli recording and the duet with Obraztsova from Adrianna Lecouvreur makes very little sense out of context.

Nonetheless one of Scotto's best recordings, and one that is worth returning to quite often.
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: Favorite vocal recitals on CD or DVD
« Reply #503 on: March 21, 2020, 09:43:59 AM »


Crespin's recording with Ansermet of Ravel's Shéhérazade and Berlioz's Les Nuits d'été is now so famous, so universally acclaimed that there can surely be no more to say about it. Even today, almost 60 years since they were recorded, the performances are still cited by many as a first choice in both works and for many they were no doubt their first exposure to the works, so maybe that is all that needs to be said about them, but is it really so simple?

Both Shéhérazade and, especially, Les nuits d'été are great favourites of mine and I now have ten different recordings of the Berlioz, six of the Ravel.  Let us then start with the Ravel. From the thrice repeated call of Asie at the beginning, the third sung with the equivalent of a flirtatiously arched eyebrow, we are in her thrall. She makes a bewitching storyteller, drawing us in with her thrillingly colourful descriptions of the Orient. As I often feel with Crespin, there is a slight air of detachment but here it suits the narrative superbly. She is suitably languid in La flûte enchantée and deliciously ambiguous in L'indifférent. There have been finer versions of the orchestral score (not least the New Philharmonia under Barbirolli for Janet Baker), but Crespin at her best is still a prime recommendation. There is something just so inevitably right about her singing and it places her (just) ahead of the other versions I own, (Teyte, Baker, De Los Angeles, Berganza and Hendricks).

That air of detachment I mentioned also makes her an ideal interpreter of the songs of Poulenc and also Debussy's Trois chansons de Bilitis with John Wustman on the piano, from a 1967 recording, which are here included as a makeweight, and very welcome they are too. However it works against her in the Berlioz, which requires a degree of involvement and passion that I find lacking in Crespin's delivery. However musical and tasteful her singing, however elegant her phrasing, she remains aloof and uninvolved. There is no sense of mounting rapture at the arrival of the rose from paradise, no sense of longing in Absence. She is at her best in the final song, L'île inconnue which is blithely insouciant and responds better to her air of suave sophistication. I have no idea why she decided to place Sur les lagunes after Absence but it upsets the balance of the work too.

No, for the Berlioz my prime recommendations would be Baker either with Barbirolli or live with Giulini, Hunt Lieberson with McGegan, Steber with Mitropoulos or De Los Angeles with Munch, Crespin trailing quite a way in their wake.

Essential I would say for Shéhérazade and the Debussy and Poulenc, but look elsewhere for the Berlioz.
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: Favorite vocal recitals on CD or DVD
« Reply #504 on: March 24, 2020, 01:18:25 AM »


Schwarzkopf and her husband Legge loved recording, often making several different recordings of the same repertoire and in their case there was almost as much unpublised material in the vaults as they actually issued. Reasons why so much languished without a home could be manifold. It could be that at the time a slightly different emphasis was preferred, or it might simply be that a coupling could not be found, which surely must have been the case with the performance here of Mozart's Ch'io mi scordi di te, an aria Schwarzkopf returned to in 1968 with Alfred Brendel, George Szell and the LSO and a performance that has been much admired.

However Schwrzkopf herself had misgivings about the 1968 performance. Ever an astute assesor of her own performances, she told John Steane in her retirement years,

Quote
You can hear that it's too late, if you have a discerning ear, but it is musically good, fine, but it is not the young voice any more, and for Mozart that is not so good - it should be the voice in fuller bloom.

In 1955 the voice certainly was in full bloom and the mid 1950s might arguably be considered the high watermark of her career, vocally at least. This was when she recorded the champagne operettas, Strauss's Ariadne and the Marschallin and Alice Ford in Karajan's Falstaff. 1955 was also the year in which she made her US debut in San Francisco as the Marschallin.

Geza Anda, like Brendel in 1968, was a fine Mozartian and the the two artists blend and intertwine with each other deliciously. Ackermann, as so often with Schwarzkopf, is a master accompanist, shaping the music beautifully. The 1968 performance with Brendel and Szell is excellent but, if pushed, I think I would go with this one.

Thurston Dart, teacher of Christopher Hogwood and Sir John Eliot Gardiner among others, is in charge of the Bach items, and, though the instruments used are modern, the style is a million miles away from some of the over-Romanticised performances often heard around this time. Indeed Dart could be considered to be one of the pre-cursors of the HIP movement. Tempi are well chosen and Schhwarzkopf's singing, though expressive is admirably clean and clear, her tone bright and joyful for the Wedding Cantata, but darker for Mein Herze schwimmt in Blut.

The disc also gives us the chance to hear two performances of the recit and aria Schafe können sicher weiden, the first recorded in 1957, the second the following year. To be honest there is very little difference between the two performance of the aria, but in the recitative Schwarzkopf adopts a slightly more expressive style in the later version.

Hardly anything that Schwarzkopf recorded is without interest and it is good that so much of this unpublished material has now become available, though this does mean a fair amount of duplication for Schwarzkopf completists. I'd say that this disc was worth having for the Mozart alone, but the Bach items are very welcome as well.
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: Favorite vocal recitals on CD or DVD
« Reply #505 on: March 28, 2020, 01:48:31 AM »


Poulenc:
Banalités
Chansons villageoises
Quatre poèmes de Guillaume Apollinaire
Tu vois le feu du soir
Main dominée par le coeur

Debussy:
Beau soir
L'écheonnement des haies
Le Promenoir des deux amantes

Ravel:
Histoires naturelles
Mélodies hébraïques

Satie:
Trois mélodies


Pierre Bernac and Francis Poulenc had a long and fruitful working relationship, going back to 1926 when Bernac gave the first performance of Poulenc's Chansons gaillardes (not included on this disc). They first appeared in recital together in 1934 and continued to do so until Bernac retired from public performing in 1960. In fact the majority of Poulenc's songs were written for Bernac and I suppose one could say that they enjoyed a similar relationship to that of Britten and Pears, without the emotional attachment, apparently always using the polite 'vous' with each other at all times.

Bernac's voice was evidently not large but he had an enormously varied tonal palette which enabled him to capture every shift in mood, every emotion, implied or overt, in each song. Though the voice was not of itself of great natural beauty, its range was wide and Poulenc exploited this to great effect. Bernac was also a great teacher, numbering Gérard Souzay, Elly Ameling and Jessye Norman among his pupils, and he wrote with great insight about the art of singing. His The Interpretation of French Song is an absolute must for anyone interested in performing this repertoire.

Bernac and Poulenc left behind quite a legacy of recordings, most of them recorded for EMI and RCA in 1947. However these Columbia sessions took place in 1950. The Poulenc selection is self recommending, but he is equally at home in the songs of Debussy, Ravel and Satie, embracing the lyricism of Debussy's Beau soir, the slightly detached irony of Ravel's Histoires naturelles or the parodic wit of the Satie songs.

Anyone who enjoys the subtle are of French song should definitely hear them.

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

Offline André

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Re: Favorite vocal recitals on CD or DVD
« Reply #506 on: April 07, 2020, 11:50:30 AM »


This 3 disc set is made up of various constituents:

Disc 1:
- 5 tracks from a Rossini mezzo arias disc.
- 5 tracks from the Venezia-Opera arias of the Serenissima album.
Disc 2:
- 5 tracks from a Handel mezzo soprano arias album.
- 9 tracks from various integral works by Vivaldi, Handel, Vinci, Gluck.
Disc 3:
- 16 german lieder (Schubert, Schumann, Mendelssohn, Mahler, Strauss) from a 1992 recital, sung by the then 15 year old boy soprano.
- 7 ‘songs’ from a 1993 recital.

I started with disc 3, with the young Cencic in his last year with the Wienersängerknaben, of which he had been a member since he was 11. At 15 (the 1992 recital) Cencic was the possessor of a fine soprano voice, quite even throughout the register (rare with boy sopranos), with strong, ringing high notes. The only thing missing is a working low register. This is apparent in Der Hirt auf dem Felsem, where he eschews the written low note at der Klüfte (and its repeat in a following stanza). This is both minor and major. Only one note, but the sign of a voice that is not completely formed. Also, that pealing bell low note is one of the most magic moments of the work. Listen to Elly Ameling’s plunge from mid to low register here. Tummy wobbling stuff. By and large though this is a mighty fine recital, with fine expression and nothing derogatory.

The following year’s items show a voice in disarray. The top notes are still strong and powerful, but they are pushed, and the rest of the voice has disintegrated. Cencic quit the choir and in 1996 retired from concertizing. He studied and retrained his voice, coming back as a countertenor in the next decade. He came back on the stage in earnest, now in his early thirties, along with the wave of countertenors that flooded opera houses and recording studios. The pieces on discs 2 and 3 date from the beginning of his new career, 2007-2012.

The years spent retraining his voice paid handsome dividends. Cencic’s low register is now his strongest asset, a true, rounded, beautiful sound. Di tanti palpiti famously solicits a mezzo’s low notes. Cencic’s are perfectly placed and well integrated with the rest of the voice. What’s missing is brilliance and power (volume). It’s perfectly fine heard by itself, but it pales a bit in comparison to real good mezzos like Podles or Horne. But that may be unfair criticism. Nobody sings like Podles or Horne. Cencic characterizes his repertoire as that of a mezzo. Jaroussky, Fagioli and Daniels can sing soprano roles. Their timbre is more brilliant, less sensuous than Cencic’s.

I have 3 solo discs of this superb countertenor. This set nicely complements them, esp. for the arias extracted from complete operas, which I am not in the market to buy.

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: Favorite vocal recitals on CD or DVD
« Reply #507 on: April 10, 2020, 01:04:11 AM »


This recital, the second Callas recorded for EMI, was designed to show off her versatility, so we get one side of verismo, and one of coloratura, with Boito’s L’altra notte from Mefistofele bridging the gap. It caused quite a stir at the time. The coloratura side was of material more associated with singers like Galli-Curci and Pagliughi; the verismo items more likely to be the preserve of Ponselle and Muzio, or Callas’s contemporary, Tebaldi. There is no doubt that Tebaldi could not have attempted any of the coloratura items on the disc and the gauntlet was effectively laid down. The range too is phenomenal, and takes her up to a high E natural (in the Vespri aria, and the Bell Song), a note unthinkable from a soprano who could bring the power she does to an aria like La mamma morta.

Of the operas represented, Callas had only sung Mefistofele and I Vespri Siciliani on stage at that time, though she would go on to sing Rosina in Il Barbiere di Siviglia (and make a very successful studio recording) and Maddalena in Andrea Chénier. But, as is her wont, even in isolation, Callas is able to enter fully into the character and sound world of each character that she is singing.

She starts with two of Adrianna’s solos from Adrianna Lecouvreur, a role that would no doubt have suited her dramatic gifts down to the ground, though, truth to tell, the opera is pretty tawdry stuff. I have the recording with Scotto and Domingo, who make the very best case for it, but I still have little time for it. That said, Callas is brilliant at conveying Adrianna’s humility in the first aria, her pain and sadness in the second. Her recording of La mamma morta is well known, and became quite a hit after it was featured in the Tom Hanks Oscar winning movie Philadelphia. Notable is the way Callas’s tone colour matches that of the cello in the opening bars, and the way she carefully charts its mounting rapture. Some may prefer a richer, fuller sound. None have sung it with such intensity.

Ebben ne andro lontana, a glorious performance, is full of aching loneliness, its climax solid as a rock, but the prize of this first side is without doubt the crepuscular beauty of Margherita’s L’altra notte from Boito’s Mefistofele, a sort of mini mad scene, which Callas fills with a wealth of colour and imagination. One notes the blank, colourless tone at L’aura e fredda, even more drained and hopeless on its repeat, the baleful sound of her chest voice on E la mesta anima mia; and does any other singer so accurately encompass those coloratura flights of fancy as her soul takes wing on Vola, vola? This is the stuff of genius.

The second side also has its attractions. Rosina’s Una voce poco fa is a mite slower than it was to become in the studio set, but Callas’s ideas on the character are perfectly formed, and she already uses that explosive Ma to underline Rosina’s less than docile temperament. Her runs, scales and fioriture are as elastic as ever, and the little turns on the final faro giocar have to be heard to be believed.

The Dinorah aria is a rather empty piece and I sometimes wonder why she even bothered with it. There are some magical echo effects and her singing is wonderfully fleet and accurate, but it’s not a favourite of mine. I’m not a big fan of the Bell Song either, to be honest. Callas lavishes possibly more attention on it than it’s worth, but in so doing at least makes it a little more interesting than the birdlike warblings we usually get. The opening has a mesmeric , almost improvisational air about it, and the bell imitations are clear and true. I remember once playing this track at a friend’s place one summer evening, the window open, while a bird (I have no idea what it was) sang for all its worth on a branch just outside.  It was as if the bird was singing in response. The high E she sings at its climax is clean as a whistle, but it does sound like the very extreme of her range. Best of all the coloratura items is her breezy, elegantly sung Merce, dilette amiche from Verdi’s I Vespri Siciliani, which is lovely in every way and ends on another epic high E.
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline Pohjolas Daughter

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Re: Favorite vocal recitals on CD or DVD
« Reply #508 on: April 24, 2020, 11:54:02 AM »


Crespin's recording with Ansermet of Ravel's Shéhérazade and Berlioz's Les Nuits d'été is now so famous, so universally acclaimed that there can surely be no more to say about it. Even today, almost 60 years since they were recorded, the performances are still cited by many as a first choice in both works and for many they were no doubt their first exposure to the works, so maybe that is all that needs to be said about them, but is it really so simple?

Both Shéhérazade and, especially, Les nuits d'été are great favourites of mine and I now have ten different recordings of the Berlioz, six of the Ravel.  Let us then start with the Ravel. From the thrice repeated call of Asie at the beginning, the third sung with the equivalent of a flirtatiously arched eyebrow, we are in her thrall. She makes a bewitching storyteller, drawing us in with her thrillingly colourful descriptions of the Orient. As I often feel with Crespin, there is a slight air of detachment but here it suits the narrative superbly. She is suitably languid in La flûte enchantée and deliciously ambiguous in L'indifférent. There have been finer versions of the orchestral score (not least the New Philharmonia under Barbirolli for Janet Baker), but Crespin at her best is still a prime recommendation. There is something just so inevitably right about her singing and it places her (just) ahead of the other versions I own, (Teyte, Baker, De Los Angeles, Berganza and Hendricks).

That air of detachment I mentioned also makes her an ideal interpreter of the songs of Poulenc and also Debussy's Trois chansons de Bilitis with John Wustman on the piano, from a 1967 recording, which are here included as a makeweight, and very welcome they are too. However it works against her in the Berlioz, which requires a degree of involvement and passion that I find lacking in Crespin's delivery. However musical and tasteful her singing, however elegant her phrasing, she remains aloof and uninvolved. There is no sense of mounting rapture at the arrival of the rose from paradise, no sense of longing in Absence. She is at her best in the final song, L'île inconnue which is blithely insouciant and responds better to her air of suave sophistication. I have no idea why she decided to place Sur les lagunes after Absence but it upsets the balance of the work too.

No, for the Berlioz my prime recommendations would be Baker either with Barbirolli or live with Giulini, Hunt Lieberson with McGegan, Steber with Mitropoulos or De Los Angeles with Munch, Crespin trailing quite a way in their wake.

Essential I would say for Shéhérazade and the Debussy and Poulenc, but look elsewhere for the Berlioz.
Interesting!  You don't like her Berlioz?  Rather surprised.  To each his own though...fair enough.   :)

Have you heard Susan Graham's recordings of Les Nuits?  I really enjoy hers (managed to also see her sing them live...and meet her too.  Lovely woman!).

Best wishes,

PD

Offline knight66

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Re: Favorite vocal recitals on CD or DVD
« Reply #509 on: April 24, 2020, 11:20:28 PM »
It seems mysterious to me that we hear specific voices differently from one another. I have tried occasionally over many years to appreciate the Crespin disc, after all it is renowned, but I hear her as singing flat, a lot. And that is something I hear or imagine on other of her discs. I have concluded that I am hearing her differently than all the people who so admire her singing.

So my preferred versions are by others.

Recently I recommended to a friend some Vivaldi sung by Jaroussky, he wrote back complaining about how flat he was singing. This is someone who listens to a lot of singers and we both like many of the same ones. I could not hear any flatness when I was listening to check. My wife can’t bear Callas, even when she is singing Butterfly, the voice sets her on edge. I understand why some can’t get along with her voice, some describe it as ugly. My wife claims that often  she is not centred on the notes, I don’t agree.

I have never heard this kind of complaint about intonation with instrumentalists, other than occasionally a violinist, but there, when Menuhin is out of tune, we all seem to hear it. I wonder what is different about how we hear the voice?

Mike
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I wasted time: and time wasted me.

Offline André

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Re: Favorite vocal recitals on CD or DVD
« Reply #510 on: April 25, 2020, 04:27:58 AM »
Excellent point, Mike. Some singers do elicit a divided response - like Nilsson for example, whose intonation is regularly questioned by listeners. Maybe the overtones help disguise sharpness or flatness in a voice? Some singers produce more overtones than others. One’s ears may perceive that mix of ‘main signal’ and overtones in a different way. Just my (very uninformed) two cents... :)

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: Favorite vocal recitals on CD or DVD
« Reply #511 on: April 25, 2020, 11:54:56 PM »
Interesting!  You don't like her Berlioz?  Rather surprised.  To each his own though...fair enough.   :)

Have you heard Susan Graham's recordings of Les Nuits?  I really enjoy hers (managed to also see her sing them live...and meet her too.  Lovely woman!).

Best wishes,

PD

No, I don't and Les nuits d'été is a great favourite of mine. I have ten different recordings, probably the most duplications I have of anything.

Baker/Barbirolli
Baker/Giulini
Baker/Hickox
Baltsa/Tate
Crespin/Ansermet
David Daniels/Nelson
De Los Angeles/Munch
Hunt Lieberson/McGegan
Steber/Mitropoulos
Armstrong, Veasey, Patterson, Shirley-Quirk/Davis

I just don't love Crespin's performance, and I'm not alone. The Berlioz scholar, David Cairns, is of the same opinion.

Quote
But quite apart from the cavalier way she places 'Sur les lagunes' after 'Absence' instead of before, I must say I find much of it unconvincing - regal but mannered and lacking in vitality. Her 'O grands désirs inappaisés' in 'Absence' is an expression of civilised regret, not a cry of longing for the distant beloved. At 'J'arrive du paradis'. the glittering climax of 'Le spectre de la rose', what she chiefly conveys is a sense of being fatigued by the journey.

I must say I agree with him totally.

I've heard the Susan Graham and I seem to remember quite liking it, though I wasn't tempted to buy it. Of the ones I do own, my favourites are Baker with both Barbirolli and Giulini, Hunt Lieberson with McGegan and Steber with Mitropoulos.

« Last Edit: April 26, 2020, 12:36:56 AM by Tsaraslondon »
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Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: Favorite vocal recitals on CD or DVD
« Reply #512 on: April 26, 2020, 12:22:06 AM »
It seems mysterious to me that we hear specific voices differently from one another. I have tried occasionally over many years to appreciate the Crespin disc, after all it is renowned, but I hear her as singing flat, a lot. And that is something I hear or imagine on other of her discs. I have concluded that I am hearing her differently than all the people who so admire her singing.

So my preferred versions are by others.

Recently I recommended to a friend some Vivaldi sung by Jaroussky, he wrote back complaining about how flat he was singing. This is someone who listens to a lot of singers and we both like many of the same ones. I could not hear any flatness when I was listening to check. My wife can’t bear Callas, even when she is singing Butterfly, the voice sets her on edge. I understand why some can’t get along with her voice, some describe it as ugly. My wife claims that often  she is not centred on the notes, I don’t agree.

I have never heard this kind of complaint about intonation with instrumentalists, other than occasionally a violinist, but there, when Menuhin is out of tune, we all seem to hear it. I wonder what is different about how we hear the voice?

Mike

It is odd, I agree. For years I didn't get on with Jessye Norman because I always heard her as flat. It's one of the reasons I never enjoyed her recording of the Vier letzte Lieder. However I listened to it again recently and really enjoyed it, my main grouse this time being with Masur's slow speeds (It starts slow and seems to just get slower). I don't hear her as flat anymore, so maybe my hearing isn't as precise as it once was. I still feel that her interpretations lack the sort of specificity you find in performances by Janet Baker or Hunt Lieberson. She uses a sort of all-purpose, one size fits all generosity of spirit whatever the music she is singing. I heard her live a few times and felt the same when I saw her.

When it comes to Crespin, I do sometimes hear the flatness that Mike speaks off, but what bothers me more is her detachment and cool reserve, which is fine in some music, but not in others. I have her singing some Verdi arias and her Amelia is only mildy perturbed to find herself at the foot of the gallows at midnight, her Aida only a little conflicted between love for Radames and love for her country. She always sounds as if she wouldn't want to get too worked up in case she mussed her impeccably coiffed hair.

Your wife's assertion that Callas isn't centred on the note might be because, as someone pointed out to me, she sings on the sharp side of the note. I was told once that singers rarely sing in the centre of the note, especially in heavily orchestrated music, because a tiny adjustment in pitch can help them to be heard above the orchestra. Some singers sing on the flat side, some on the sharp and maybe your wife has the same problem with sharpness as we do with flatness.

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

Offline knight66

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Re: Favorite vocal recitals on CD or DVD
« Reply #513 on: April 26, 2020, 03:44:48 AM »
Interesting, I am aware that Baker sometimes sings sharp. The only time it bothered me was in Childhood of Christ. And there it bothered me a lot. I also recall my old choir master John Currie reporting on having heard her in Clemenza di Tito at Covent Garden and he was full of admiration about how she had so carefully tightened up the tuning to be ‘just’ sharp of the notes. He did not explain why he found that so admirable.

I also agree that Norman can be somewhat generalised, but I am fairly addicted to her voice and she does produce some remarkable results: The Levine Mahler das Lied, Ariadne and Sieglinde for example.

I think I have about 15 versions of Les Nuits d’ete, including all the ones you listed, and my top list is exactly as yours.

Mike
DavidW: Yeah Mike doesn't get angry, he gets even.
I wasted time: and time wasted me.

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: Favorite vocal recitals on CD or DVD
« Reply #514 on: April 26, 2020, 06:18:57 AM »
Interesting, I am aware that Baker sometimes sings sharp. The only time it bothered me was in Childhood of Christ. And there it bothered me a lot. I also recall my old choir master John Currie reporting on having heard her in Clemenza di Tito at Covent Garden and he was full of admiration about how she had so carefully tightened up the tuning to be ‘just’ sharp of the notes. He did not explain why he found that so admirable.


Mike

I assume what he meant was that Vitellia lay quite high for her and, being the intelligent singer she was, she went for the sharp side of the note to ensure she never went flat.

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

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: Favorite vocal recitals on CD or DVD
« Reply #515 on: May 02, 2020, 12:49:05 AM »




In many ways this is an infuriating compilation, not because of anything to do with Mme Price herself, but because of the shoddy presentation, which does her, and her colleagues on this disc, no service whatsoever. The skimpy booklet lists the arias on the discs, bit not one word about their provenance, who is conducting, what year the record was made or indeed anything at all to place them in context. Even Manon Lescaut is spelled wrongly on the front cover. All we get is a puff about her career and the unhelpful information on the back of the disc that the compilation was issued in 1999. Texts and translations are hardly to be expected these days, but I do like to at least know a bit about the date of the recording, the orchestra, conductor and other singers who appear.

There is a good chance of course that I am not the target audience. Maybe most people who buy the set are happy just to put the discs on, sit back and let the gorgeous voice pour out some familiar tunes, which, for the most part, is what we get, the least well known piece here being the excerpt from Barber's Antony and Cleopatra.

At least the selection concentrates mostly on her strengths, so we get fine examples of her Aida, both the Leonoras, her Carmen and a liberal sprinkling of Puccini arias, which are beautifully sung if not particularly specific in character. The weakest items here are the Mozart arias and Dido's Lament, regally voiced but impassively emotionless. However there are some very impressive performances here, particularly those taken, I assume, from complete performances of Il Trovatore, La Forza del Destino and Aida, roles for which she was well suited. The voice was certainly one of the glories of its age, with a dark plangency particularly suited to the melancholy of characters like Aida and Leonora.

That said, I would have to say that, personally, I find this hotchpotch kind of compilation, which concentrates on the singer rather than the music, completely unsatisfactory. As it happens, I am, at the moment, also working my way through the Janet Baker twenty disc Great Recordings box, which I suppose one could also legitimally call a hotchpotch. If I am finding this a much more rewarding listening experience, it presumably has something to do with the better, more logical programming, and also the greater specificity of Baker's art.

Dipping in and extracting arias here and there from this set will proabably afford the most pleasure and maybe that is what one is supposed to do with a compilation like this.
« Last Edit: May 02, 2020, 01:03:08 AM by Tsaraslondon »
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline Pohjolas Daughter

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Re: Favorite vocal recitals on CD or DVD
« Reply #516 on: May 02, 2020, 09:31:08 AM »




In many ways this is an infuriating compilation, not because of anything to do with Mme Price herself, but because of the shoddy presentation, which does her, and her colleagues on this disc, no service whatsoever. The skimpy booklet lists the arias on the discs, bit not one word about their provenance, who is conducting, what year the record was made or indeed anything at all to place them in context. Even Manon Lescaut is spelled wrongly on the front cover. All we get is a puff about her career and the unhelpful information on the back of the disc that the compilation was issued in 1999. Texts and translations are hardly to be expected these days, but I do like to at least know a bit about the date of the recording, the orchestra, conductor and other singers who appear.

There is a good chance of course that I am not the target audience. Maybe most people who buy the set are happy just to put the discs on, sit back and let the gorgeous voice pour out some familiar tunes, which, for the most part, is what we get, the least well known piece here being the excerpt from Barber's Antony and Cleopatra.

At least the selection concentrates mostly on her strengths, so we get fine examples of her Aida, both the Leonoras, her Carmen and a liberal sprinkling of Puccini arias, which are beautifully sung if not particularly specific in character. The weakest items here are the Mozart arias and Dido's Lament, regally voiced but impassively emotionless. However there are some very impressive performances here, particularly those taken, I assume, from complete performances of Il Trovatore, La Forza del Destino and Aida, roles for which she was well suited. The voice was certainly one of the glories of its age, with a dark plangency particularly suited to the melancholy of characters like Aida and Leonora.

That said, I would have to say that, personally, I find this hotchpotch kind of compilation, which concentrates on the singer rather than the music, completely unsatisfactory. As it happens, I am, at the moment, also working my way through the Janet Baker twenty disc Great Recordings box, which I suppose one could also legitimally call a hotchpotch. If I am finding this a much more rewarding listening experience, it presumably has something to do with the better, more logical programming, and also the greater specificity of Baker's art.

Dipping in and extracting arias here and there from this set will proabably afford the most pleasure and maybe that is what one is supposed to do with a compilation like this.
I haven't seen that set before.  For the moment, this is the only set that I have of her recordings (bought long ago at a Tower Records):

  It's a 4-CD set.  Will have to see if the liner notes were better there....I suspect so.

I'd love to get either this:  or possible this (older) set:



EDIT:  Alas, I was wrong about the Prima Donna set.  At best (on the back of the case), they list three conductors and the range of the years for the recordings.  At least they have the texts and translations.  Other than that, you are forced to do your own research!   :(
« Last Edit: May 02, 2020, 09:42:17 AM by Pohjolas Daughter »

Offline André

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Re: Favorite vocal recitals on CD or DVD
« Reply #517 on: May 02, 2020, 10:35:45 AM »
I own a few discs or sets individually, but the bulk of what I have from her is from this box:



I find it contains practically everything you can hope for if you’re interested in this unique artist without investing listening time and money in her numerous opera sets. Price had a most individual, even unique voice. What she did with it was quite variable in quality though. There was often a strain of impassiveness to her singing, but when she was on emotionally she could melt an iceberg. Her sustained pianissimo high notes had a darkly phosphorescent quality. Her low register had a very distinctive smokiness that some found unpleasant, but that for me was quite unique.

She had a long career. While she retained her purity and power on top until she retired, her low register had become throaty and slightly hollow. She used portamenti liberally, often to glide down spectacularly (some said tastelessly) into her low register. Critics carped at her unconventional singing and her seemingly unconnected registers. Word pointing was not her forte either. On stage she could be statuesque, like Caballé or Sutherland. With Price, everything was in the throat. And yet she could mesmerize audiences (see link below).

As Tsaralondon said, her best roles were the two Leonoras and Aida. I remember watching the 1985 Met telecast of her farewell performance as Aida. Price was 58 at the time. She had a few unwieldy moments in the first act and wasn’t much of a dramatic presence in the Triumph Scene. But then, her Nile Scene ! A true OMG moment, fortunately captured on video:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IaV6sqFUTQ4

Offline Tsaraslondon

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Re: Favorite vocal recitals on CD or DVD
« Reply #518 on: May 02, 2020, 01:18:30 PM »
I haven't seen that set before.  For the moment, this is the only set that I have of her recordings (bought long ago at a Tower Records):

  It's a 4-CD set.  Will have to see if the liner notes were better there....I suspect so.

I'd love to get either this:  or possible this (older) set:



EDIT:  Alas, I was wrong about the Prima Donna set.  At best (on the back of the case), they list three conductors and the range of the years for the recordings.  At least they have the texts and translations.  Other than that, you are forced to do your own research!   :(

I have the four disc Prima Donna set, which is also rather badly presented. I reviewed that one as well some time ago.

https://tsaraslondon.wordpress.com/2019/06/29/leontyne-price-the-prima-donna-collection/
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline Pohjolas Daughter

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Re: Favorite vocal recitals on CD or DVD
« Reply #519 on: May 02, 2020, 01:36:19 PM »
I have the four disc Prima Donna set, which is also rather badly presented. I reviewed that one as well some time ago.
Yes, as I mentioned after looking at it again, little info there (basically 'none') re recordings except for a general mention in terms of the three conductors involved and the years (think range) in terms of when they were recorded. Probably purchased that set in the early to mid 1990's?

I do also have some complete operatic recordings with her (maybe a half dozen off the top of my head) and also some highlights (on LP)....other things like her "Blue album" (on hybrid-SACD), Strauss Arias and Verdi Heroines.

And, yes, André, her 'Nile scene' is a thing of beauty.   :)

Best wishes to both,

PD
« Last Edit: May 02, 2020, 01:41:59 PM by Pohjolas Daughter »