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BLUEBEARD'S CASTLE (in French) (Bartok), Live Performance, 17 April, 1950, w. Ansermet Cond. Renee Gilly & Lucien Lovano; BELA BARTOK: Romanian Folk Dances (Played by the Composer, recorded 1940, New York); BELA BARTOK & JOSEPH SZIGETI: Violin Sonata (Debussy), Live Performance, 13 April, 1940, Washington; OSKAR KALMAN [Creator of the role of Bluebeard, 1918]: Zauberflote - In diesen heil'gen Hallen - recorded 1929, Berlin. (France) Malibran 175. (OP3286)
“It might be said that Marjorie [Lawrence] qualified for inclusion in the Paris musical fraternity from the moment she began lessons with Cecile Gilly….Being a pupil of Madame Gilly carried status, for among connoisseurs of singing in Paris Cecile Gilly was legendary….Cecile Gilly proved to be the ideal teacher for the present state of Marjorie’s voice, her current level of accomplishment and her aspirations to be a dramatic soprano….integrating the registers into a seamless progression of notes and eliminating any audible ‘gear changing’….For Marjorie’s [preparation for the Met in New York] she renewed her acquaintance with the young pianist who had accompanied her at her audition with Gilly who [was] Madame’s eldest daughter, Renee, just a year older than Marjorie and assisting her mother while she prepared for a career of her own as a mezzo-soprano…Marjorie’s diaries for the years she studied in Paris show that she spent as much time working with Renee as she did with Cecile…learning every note of any role they studied….”
- Richard Davis, WOTAN’S DAUGHTER, pp.37 & 38
"Noted for the clarity and sensitivity of his enunciation of the text, Lovano enjoyed a distinguished career of 30 years with French Radio. Gilly was the daughter of noted baritone Dinh Gilly. She made her debut at the Salle Favart 11 Sept., 1933, as Charlotte in WERTHER, then her Palais Garnier debut on 13 October, 1936, as Hérodiade. She was highly regarded by Marjorie Lawrence and was duly instrumental in helping develop Lawrence's voice when she arrived in Paris. Sadly, she made no records."
- Jean ZieglerJORGE BOLET: Chopin, Brahms, Schubert & Liszt Recital. [In every respect, as one would expect, a treasurable recital; recorded in brilliant sound!] Transfers by Yves St Laurent. (Canada) 2-St Laurent Studio YSL T-750, Live Performance, 11 Aug., 1971, Bloomington, Indiana. (P1291)
"Despite his accolades, Jorge Bolet had a peculiar career in that he did not achieve international success until he was in his 60's. From his days as a child prodigy at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia, there never was a doubt about his phenomenal talent. His technique ranked with that of any living pianist, he drew a rich sound from the instrument, and he even won a major competition - the Naumburg, in 1937. Not until the 1970's was he recognized as a great master. Many who had followed his career from the beginning saw a deepening in his musical thought around that time. Whatever the reason, he suddenly started to receive rave reviews; he signed a big recording contract with Decca in England and played a series of engagements that took him all over the world. At one point he was giving some 150 concerts a season. He himself professed to be puzzled about his sudden fame.
One of the factors in his sudden success was a shift in musical values. When Mr. Bolet was young, the musical climate was largely anti-Romantic. Liszt, especially, was regarded as a meretricious, show-off composer. It followed that musicians were trained in an anti-Romantic style, a style in which little metrical or even expressive latitude was allowed. The idea was to play all the notes exactly as written, bring out the architectural design of the music and keep expressive devices to a minimum. Mr. Bolet described this kind of interpretation as bound to ‘a rigid set of absolutes’. Its exponents, he said, ‘have computerized mechanisms, but so many seem to have no idea of what the notes actually mean’. To the new generation, his playing must have seemed anachronistic.
At age 12 he was sent to the Curtis Institute, where he studied with David Saperton, Leopold Godowsky, Moriz Rosenthal and Josef Hofmann. These were remarkable pianists who were exponents of the Romantic school, and Mr. Bolet grew up to be a worthy successor to his great mentors. The two pianists he admired most were Hofmann and Sergei Rachmaninoff. As Mr. Bolet pointed out many times, the true Romantic style was anything but anarchic or self-indulgent. The great Romantic pianists of the past were aristocratic artists who never distorted music, who had tonal beauty, who used expressive devices that consisted largely of delicate fluctuations of tempo. ‘Flexibility within the pulse of the music’ was how he described it.
In the 1970's musicians started looking at the once-derided music of Liszt and other Romantics, and a wave of neo-Romanticism was in the air. Then Mr. Bolet finally came into his own. He was one of about a half-dozen veterans who could convincingly bring Romantic music to life. He had a colossal technique that never was used for its own sake; at all times his playing was subtle, refined, elegant. He could summon great masses of sound when necessary, but like the great Romantic pianists he never pounded. In a day when the prevailing piano sound was percussive, his hands seemed made of velvet, and he drew luminous, tinted sounds from the keyboard in great washes of color. It might also be said that his tall, stately, dignified figure brought to the concert stage an element of glamour that had been missing from the younger generation.
Mr. Bolet recorded a large part of his repertory, both solo and concerto. His series of Decca/London records include major and minor Liszt, Chopin, Brahms, Schumann and Rachmaninoff works, encore pieces and French music, especially Franck and Debussy. He was one of the few pianists to record the Godowsky arrangements of the Chopin Etudes; these Godowsky transcriptions may be the most difficult pieces ever written for solo piano.”
- Harold C. Schonberg, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 17 Oct., 1990GENOVEVA - in French (Schumann), Live Performance, 26 Oct., 1956, w.Aubin Cond. Berthe Monmart, Ernest Blanc, Gisele Desmoutiers, Jean Giraudeau, Pierre Froumenty, Andre Vessiers, Lucien Lovano, Andree Esposito, Nadine Sautereau, Joseph Peyron & Jean Mollien. (France) 2-Malibran 814. (OP3287)
“Compared to the immense stature of this baritone within the French school of singing, Ernest Blanc’s recordings will always be too few to let pass this testimony of his art. In this radio concert featuring a translated version of Schumann's rare GENOVEVA in French, Ernest Blanc, one of the few French artists to have performed in Bayreuth, sang the role of Siegfried! In 1956, he had not climbed the Sacred Hill yet (his first Telramund would come two years later), but the Paris Opera debut had taken place, and this 33-year-old artist was already revealing himself in all his majesty.
The heroine of this opera is entrusted to a singer whose younger generation was likely to have never heard her name. Yet, she was one of the best French artists of her time. Admittedly, Berthe Monmart did not make a huge international career, it was nonetheless an admirable voice, which was not only illustrated in the national repertoire (superb Louise, excellent Penelope), but also in the greatest works of foreign composers. Who would want to know her talent, we can not advise too strongly to turn to the Malibran label, without which it would hardly be possible to listen to Berthe Monmart. The modest character of Genevieve de Brabant suits her perfectly, and it is regrettable that Schumann did not grant his heroine more ambitious airs. Berthe Monmart shows what a great artist she was, especially at a time when France did not lack great voices. We hear, in tiny anonymous roles, nothing less than Andree Esposito, Nadine Sautereau or the most beautiful Pelleas of the record, Jean Mollien. In this GENOVEVA, we also hear the tenor Jean Giraudeau, who shows here the greatest discipline to confer on his song.
For the centenary of Schumann's death, the RTF proposed the clever French adaptation due to the composer Gustave Samazeuilh, also a translator of TRISTAN UND ISOLDE. Winner of the Prix de Rome 1930, a student of Dukas and Philippe Gaubert, Tony Aubin was a very respectable conductor, who leads with energy a score whose dramatic strength is not always the main asset.”
- Laurent Bury, 7 Dec., 2018
"Ernest Blanc, one of the leading baritones of his era in France, made his debut in Marseille, as Tonio, in 1950. He then sang throughout France in the French and Italian repertories. In 1954, he made his debut at the Palais Garnier in Paris as Rigoletto; he sang there as first baritone for 25 years in a wide repertoire (Rameau, Mozart, Gounod, Bizet, Massenet, Verdi, Puccini, etc.). He also appeared often at the Opera-Comique, and was a regular guest at the Aix-en-Provence Festival.
His career took an international turn in 1958 with his Bayreuth Festival debut, followed by debuts at La Scala in Milan, the Royal Opera House in London, the Glyndebourne Festival, the Vienna State Opera, the Salzburg Festival, La Monnaie in Brussels, the Grand Theatre de Geneve, the Monte Carlo Opera, the Teatro Nacional Sao Carlos in Lisbon, the Liceo in Barcelona, the Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires, the Berlin State Opera, etc. He also enjoyed considerable success in America, at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, the San Francisco Opera, etc. Notable roles included Don Giovanni, Valentin, Zurga, Escamillo, Golaud, Germont, Renato, Amonasro, Scarpia, Riccardo in I PURITANI, opposite Joan Sutherland, Alfonso in LA FAVORITE, Wolfram, Telramund, etc.
A stylish singer and a fine musician, he possessed a beautiful voice with a brilliant upper register and impeccable diction, one of the few post war French singers to have enjoyed a truly international career. After his retirement he taught in Paris."
“GENOVEVA is an opera in four acts by Robert Schumann in the genre of German Romanticism with a libretto by Robert Reinick and the composer. The only opera Schumann ever wrote, it received its first performance on 25 June 1850 at the Stadttheater in Leipzig, with the composer conducting. It received only three performances during the premiere, and the negative criticism it received in the press played a decisive role in Schumann's decision to not write a second opera. GENOVEVA is based on the story of Genevieve of Brabant, a medieval legend set in the 8th century that is reputedly based on the 13th century life of Marie of Brabant, wife of Louis II, Duke of Bavaria. The story gained in popularity during the first half of the 19th century, primarily in Germany through various theatrical settings. Two of the settings from this period, Ludwig Tieck's play LEBEN UND TOD DER HEILIGEN GENOVEVA (Life and Death of Saint Genoveva) and Christian Friedrich Hebbel's play GENOVEVA, served as the basis for the opera's libretto. The plot of the opera has several similarities with Wagner's LOHENGRIN, which was composed during the same period as Schuman was writing GENOVEVA.”
- WikipediaANDRE CLUYTENS Cond. RTF S.O.: Symphony in C (Bizet); Nocturnes – Images; Fetes (Debussy); w.NATHAN MILSTEIN: Symphonie espagnole (Lalo). (Canada) St Laurent Studio YSL T-773, Live Performance, 11 Sept., 1955. [A delightfully effervescent program, well-recorded in remarkably fresh, open sound!] Transfers by Yves St Laurent. (C1669)
"Always putting the music before himself was a hallmark of Milstein's humility and humanity. The instrument is an extension of the human voice, and the bow is to playing the violin as the breath is to singing. I measure violinists by somewhat different standards, and by those standards, if anyone deserves the title of greatest violinist of the 20th century, it is Nathan Milstein."
- Jerry Dubins, FANFARE, Jan./Feb., 2006
“In 1932 Andre Cluytens accepted a position as the musical director of orchestral concerts at the Capitole de Toulouse, and he became a French citizen. In 1935 he was appointed the opera director in Lyons. He was an assistant of Josef Krips in a summer series in Vichy and, once again, was called on to substitute when that conductor could not perform. He became musical director of the Lyons Opera in 1942, conductor of the Conservatoire Concerts and the French National Radio Orchestra in Paris in 1943, and in 1944 conducted at the Opera de Paris. From 1947 to 1953 he was music director of the Paris Opera-Comique, and in 1949 was appointed as principal conductor of the Conservatory Concerts. He retained that position for the rest of his life. In 1955 he was invited to conduct LOHENGRIN at the Bayreuth Festival, the first French person to appear on the podium there. He debuted in the United States in 1956, and in Britain in 1958, when he substituted for Otto Klemperer. He formed a close relationship with the Vienna State Opera, which he first conducted in 1956, becoming a permanent guest conductor in 1959. In 1960 he became conductor of the Belgian National Orchestra in Belgium, also holding that post until his death. He also formed a close link with the Berlin Philharmonic, with which he made a notable recording of the Beethoven symphonies. He was invited back to Bayreuth in 1965.”
- Joseph Stevenson, allmusic.comKLAUS TENNSTEDT Cond. NYPO: Symphony #5 in B-flat (Prokofiev); w.MIRIAM FRIED: Violin Concerto in D (Beethoven). (Canada) 2-St Laurent Studio YSL T-748, Live Performance, 1 March, 1977, Avery Fisher Hall. Transfers by Yves St Laurent. (C1665)
“Miriam Fried has been recognized for years as one of the world’s preeminent violinists. A consummate musician - equally accomplished as recitalist, concerto soloist or chamber musician - she has been heralded for her ‘fiery intensity and emotional depth’ (MUSICAL AMERICA) as well as for her technical mastery. Fried has played with virtually every major orchestra in the United States and Europe and has been a frequent guest with the principal orchestras of Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, New York, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh, as well as with the Israel Philharmonic, the London Symphony, the Royal Philharmonic, and the Vienna Symphony. Recital tours have taken her to all of the major music centers in North America and to Brussels, London, Milan, Munich, Rome, Paris, Salzburg, Stockholm, and Zurich. She premiered a violin concerto written for her by Donald Erb with the Grand Rapids Symphony and recorded the work for Koss in 1995.
Since 1993, she been chair of the faculty at the Steans Institute for Young Artists at the Ravinia Festival, one of the country’s leading summer programs for young musicians. Her involvement there has included regular performances, including recitals and concerts with the Chicago Symphony. Fried’s highly praised 1985 New York recitals of the complete Bach Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin were the culmination of three years of international performances. She returned to this music with a recording made in France for the Lyrinx label. She has also made a prize-winning, best-selling recording of the Sibelius Concerto for the Finlandia label with the Helsinki Philharmonic under the direction of Okko Kamu.
Miriam Fried’s successful solo career was launched in 1968 after she was awarded First Prize in Genoa’s Paganini International Competition. Three years later she claimed top honors in the Queen Elisabeth International Competition, where she gained further world attention by becoming the first woman ever to win the prestigious award. Her early childhood included lessons with Alice Fenyves in Tel Aviv, as well as the opportunity to meet and play for the many great violinists who visited Israel, including Isaac Stern, Nathan Milstein, Yehudi Menuhin, Henryk Szeryng, Zino Francescatti, and Erica Morini. She came to the United States as a protegee of Isaac Stern, and continued her studies with Ivan Galamian at the Juilliard School and with Joseph Gingold at Indiana University.”
- New England Conservatory of MusicJANACEK QUARTET: Quartet #16 in E-flat, K.428 (Mozart); 'Intimate Letters' Quartet #2 (Janacek); Quartet #14 in A-flat (Dvorak). (Canada) 2-St Laurent Studio YSL T-753, Live Performance, 7 May, 1971, Budapest. Transfers by Yves St Laurent. (S0732)
“The Janacek Quartet was formed in 1947 by students of Vasa Cerny at the Conservatory of Brno, originally under the name JAMU Quartet. The quartet initially concentrated mainly on Janacek 's chamber works. In 1949 the ensemble changed its name to Janacek Quartet, after the Moravian composer Leos Janacek. Travnicek had some musical ties with him (he was a student of Frantisek Kudlacek, a member of Moravian Quartet that premiered Janacek’s ‘Intimate Letters’ String Quartet #2, and edited the work in cooperation with the composer).
The substitution of Adolf Sykora for Miroslav Matyas in 1952 was the only personnel change during the first twenty-five years, until the death of Jiri Travnicek in 1973. Winning a competition in the former West Berlin in 1955 opened the door to great concert halls and since then they have gained international recognition. Recordings by the quartet have won numerous awards, including the Grand Prix of the Charles Cros Academy, and the Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik (both for recording of Janacek’s String Quartets). The Janacek Quartet has made recordings for Deutsche Grammophon, Supraphon, Eterna, Decca and other labels.”
- WikipediaTITO GOBBI: Musica Proibita (Gastaldon); Arias from Don Giovanni, Barbiere, Otello, Ballo, Falstaff, Macbeth, Rigoletto, Don Carlos, Nabucco, Forza, La Traviata, Zaza, Tosca & Pagliacci. (France) Malibran AMR 173, recorded 1942-56. (V2588)
"Gobbi was an excellent actor, had a high degree of musicianship and intelligence, had a flexible, rich, but not large baritone voice, and was at home in a wide variety of parts. He also appeared in 26 movies. He was the brother-in-law of another eminent singer, Boris Christoff. Gobbi retired from the operatic stage in 1979. He published an autobiography (TITO GOBBI: MY LIFE, 1979) and TITO GOBBI AND HIS WORLD OF ITALIAN OPERA (1984). He left a significant legacy of recorded performances, mainly made in the 1950s and 1960s.”
- Joseph Stevenson, allmusic.com
. . . REPEATED . . . FROM THE RECENT PAST . . .MARIO LANZA, w.Callinicos Cond.: Arias from L'Africaine, La Boheme, Martha, Carmen, Cavalleria, Forza & Aida; w.ELAINE MALBIN: Duets from La Traviata & Madama Butterfly - all recorded 1949-50; w.LICIA ALBANESE: Otello - Dio ti giocondi; Dio mi potevi scagliar - recorded 1955. (Canada) St Laurent Studio YSL T-746. Transfers by Yves St Laurent. (V2586)
“This important collection may lead a new generation to appreciate the remarkable gifts of Mario Lanza, who achieved enormous fame in the 1950s, perhaps comparable only with Caruso and Pavarotti. Although he sang on radio, in recitals, and in Hollywood films but not in the opera house (save for a single performance of MADAMA BUTTERFLY in New Orleans), Lanza was by any reckoning a great tenor. That he had neither the desire nor the discipline to learn complete operatic roles is our loss, and the fact that he died at 38 is heartbreaking. However, this should not take away from his achievements, which are fully on display here.
What I believe to be Lanza’s greatest recording is the big third act scene from Verdi’s OTELLO with Licia Albanese as Desdemona. Recorded in 1955 for the movie SERENADE (I don’t believe the full 14 minutes were used in the film, which I have not seen), Lanza displays not only a shining tenor voice, but also a deep understanding of Verdi’s style and the psychology of the scene. One suspects that Albanese, a very successful Met Desdemona, coached him. Whatever the cause, if you were to play this recording for any opera lover without identifying the singer, he would guess that this was an experienced and knowing Otello. The hushed and very beautiful singing in the monologue ‘Dio mi potevi’ will take your breath away. Lanza’s interaction with Albanese in the preceding duet is explosive. The irony he puts in his voice and inflection when he seems momentarily to be forgiving Desdemona is just one example of imaginative vocal acting. Throughout, the voice exhibits a ring and beauty that ranks him with the best.
I cannot recommend this release urgently enough. When you hear it you will understand why so many great musicians and singers (not least among them Placido Domingo) have enthused over Lanza. Don’t waste emotional energy weeping over what might have been. Rather, celebrate what was.”
- Henry Fogel, FANFAREGIUSEPPE CAMPANARI: Songs by Seppilli, Tirindelli, Gastaldon, Rotoli & Rossini; Arias from Nozze, Barbiere, Faust, Carmen, L'Africaine, Herodiade, Pagliacci, La Gioconda, La Traviata & Il Trovatore. (Canada) St Laurent Studio YSL 78-728, recorded 1903-09. Transfers by Yves St Laurent. (V2575)
“Campanari was important enough to appear in 496 performances at the Metropolitan Opera between 1894 and 1912. What we hear on this disc first of all are the virtues of impeccable musicianship, which should not be a surprise, because Campanari was also an accomplished cellist. Astonishingly, he was good enough to be principal cellist of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and a professor of cello at the New England Conservatory of Music; he resigned both of those positions to devote himself to singing. The surviving reviews of his Met career are almost uniformly positive, in a very wide range of repertoire from Mozart to Verdi.
The voice was a lyric baritone, without the overpowering vocal heft of Amato and Ruffo, but Campanari sang with a strong personality and imagination. The recordings in this collection date from 1903–1909, so they have the limitations associated with acoustic records. St. Laurent Studio has done its usual immaculate job of restoration, and the listener will get a strong picture of the singer and his voice. In a brief mention given to Campanari in John Steane’s valuable THE GRAND TRADITION, he refers to the singer’s fluidity in rapid passagework, as in ‘Largo al factotum’ from THE BARBER OF SEVILLE. We are given five different recordings of the aria here, two with piano and three with orchestra. Each one is a delight, each one has its own individual flair.
Camparnari’s elegant singing of the French arias, particularly those from FAUST and HERODIADE, show a full understanding of the forward placement and even legato that serves that music so well. (It should be noted that he sings the French pieces in Italian). He appeared often at the Met in the title role in THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO, and Figaro’s two Act I arias demonstrate the singer’s firm rhythmic pulse and a stylish approach to the music that was not always the case in the early 20th century.
When he performed as Tonio in PAGLIACCI in New York with Hinrichs Opera Company in 1893, Campanari became the first singer to perform the role in America. He also sang the first Marcello and Papageno at the Met. His 1909 recording of the PAGLIACCI Prologue exhibits genuine authority. He pays attention to the words and articulates them with meaning. (The music had to be abridged to fit on one 78 side).
Whether in the operatic arias or the Italian songs, Campanari’s singing exhibits the virtues of steady tone, clear diction, warmth, and dramatic presence. These qualities are apparent in the first track, Stanislao Gastaldon’s ever-popular ‘Musica proibita’. As was the norm in this era, Campanari employs a rapid and noticeable vibrato, but it is never distracting, and he uses it for expressive purposes. There is a natural flow to his phrasing, a deeply felt musical sensitivity that draws the listener in. He also displays the appropriate degree of flair and personality.”
- Henry Fogel, FANFAREELEKTRA, Live Performance, 1977, Onondaga County Civic Center, Syracuse, NY, w. Christopher Keene Cond. Syracuse S.O., w. Olivia Stapp, Natalie Costa, Lili Chookasian, Alan Crabb, Richard Cross, etc. (Canada) 2-St Laurent Studio YSL T-762. (OP3282)
“Occasionally the historic performance market brings in a totally unexpected, spectacular sleeper - and this ELETKRA
is one such miracle. Although some of the names in the headnote will be known to some readers of these lines, I suspect they require introduction to most others. Christopher Keene was a fine conducting talent who never quite realized his full potential. While he served as director of the Syracuse Symphony from 1975 to 1984, co-founded the Spoleto Festival USA in 1977, and founded the Long Island Philharmonic in 1979 (serving as its music director until 1990), his longest and most prominent association was with New York City Opera from 1969 until his death from AIDS. (I saw him there in his last conducting appearance, leading the U.S. debut of Hindemith’s opera MATHIS DER MALER
, a scant three weeks before his passing.) He was a dynamic conductor who was inhibited by emotional insecurities; he struggled with both alcoholism and his homosexuality, and could freeze up in high-pressure situations such as his few guest-conducting appearances with major orchestras. Here, however, he is firing on all eight cylinders. The immediately striking feature of this performance is its great lyricism. ELEKTRA
is an opera where it is easy to play up the shock value in the score by emphasizing sudden fortissimo outbursts, dissonant chords, sudden harmonic twists, and so forth. Keene reminds us that Strauss was a great composer of Lieder by bringing out the many pages of genuine melodic beauty (only Giuseppe Sinopoli’s studio recording is comparable here, in my experience) and in so doing heightens rather than shortchanges the gruesome neuroticism of the drama. He is also incisive in tempos and rhythms, and has a fine ear for balances within the orchestra and between the orchestra and the singers. And, if the Syracuse Symphony can’t match Berlin and Vienna for Rolls-Royce opulence of sound, it belies its status as a regional orchestra with a blazing performance in which every player is giving well over 110 per cent, including a good deal of fine work by gifted first-chair section leaders.
So far as I can find, Olivia Stapp has virtually no recorded legacy, her only studio venture was a disc with Sherrill Milnes of songs by Charles Tomlinson Griffes; there is a superb Alfano CYRANO DE BERGERAC
with her available on Opera d’Oro - but she has a near-legendary reputation as a dramatic soprano among opera cognoscenti. (She made her Met debut in November 1982 on a few hour’s notice, substituting in TOSCA
for an indisposed Shirley Verrett; she had not sung the part in 18 months and had to practice the part on her shuttle flight and taxi ride in from Washington DC.) She was a noted Lady Macbeth and, as one might expect from that, here she is a superb Elektra. In line with Keene’s conducting, what is most striking about her portrayal is not just her total vocal security in every dimension, nor her depth of psychological insight - both evident in abundance - but also her lyrical beauty. This Elektra is not simply a one-dimensional, vengeance-obsessed, half-demented harridan; she is also truly a woman, fully capable of tenderness, love, and loyalty. Hear her, and your conception of this voice is permanently altered, and entirely for the better.
The other cast members are fully worthy of their roles. Lili Chookasian (who also sang at the Met) had the most extensive and prominent recording career of the participants here, working with Eugene Ormandy, Leonard Bernstein, Thomas Schippers, Walter Susskind, and Herbert von Karajan, and being especially noted for her interpretation of Mahler’s DAS LIED VON DER ERDE
. Her Klytamnestra is richly voiced but never opaque in tone, at once regally queenly and yet morbidly preoccupied with gnawing guilt. Natalie Costa was primarily known for her work in Broadway musicals (MAN OF LA MANCHA
, among others) rather than opera, but she has a thoroughly well-trained voice, attractive in timbre and having real mettle. She is a passionate Chrysothemis, no wilting wallflower before her intimidating sister, and one also notes with pleasure her fine German diction. A nice plus here is that these three voices are so individual in sound that one can immediately tell which of the three is singing without resort to a libretto. An even greater plus is that - rarity of rarities - two supporting male roles and comprimario parts for once are not shortchanged by sub-standard casting. Bass-baritone Richard Cross - still a noted vocal teacher at Yale and Juilliard - is doubtless best remembered for his one high-profile studio recording, as Oroveso opposite Joan Sutherland in her 1964 studio NORMA
. Here he provides a sepulchral, rock-steady Orestes. And, thank heavens, for once the role of Aegisth is not afflicted with some washed-out bleaty or wobbly or whiny tenor, but is given a fine rendition by Alan Crabb, who actually spot-on sings rather than barks all his notes without slighting his character’s spineless decadence. Every comprimario part is cast with a voice that is a pleasure to hear. The final chords are deservedly followed by thunderous applause and enthusiastic cheers and whistles.
For the vivid original stereo sound quality - competitive with many pre-digital studio recordings - we can thank FANFARE
’s own Henry Fogel, who was the recording producer during his time as program director and vice-president of Syracuse radio station WONO-FM
from 1963 to 1978. The performance takes the now well-nigh universally observed cut in the middle of the score….As usual, YSL provides only an inset with track titles (no timings) and a couple of photos. While I wouldn’t want to forfeit my treasured recordings led by Solti, Sinopoli, or Mitropoulos (the fabled live 1957 Salzburg performance), this remarkable concert performance is fully their equal and could easily be the only ELEKTRA
in your collection. Yes, it’s that good; recommended with boundless enthusiasm. Copies can be ordered from Norbeck, Peters, and Ford (norpete.com)
- James A. Altena. FANFAREERICH LEINSDORF Cond. Boston Symphony Orch., w.Helen Boatwright, Charles Bressler & Thomas Paul: DIE JAHRESZEITEN (Haydn) [A magisterial performance with fabulous, outstanding soloists . . . displaying the refreshing acoustics of Symphony Hall!] (Canada) 2-St Laurent Studio YSL T-690, Live Performance, 5 Jan., 1965, Symphony Hall, Boston. Transfers by Yves St Laurent. (C1663)
KLAUS TENNSTEDT Cond. NDR S.O.: La Valse (Ravel) [most assuredly the most beguiling performance of 'La Valse' you're likely to hear!]; Symphony #99 in E-flat (Shostakovich); w. ALEXIS WEISSENBERG: Piano Concerto #3 in C (Prokofiev) [Among the most glorious of Yves St Laurent's achievements - magnificent performances in stunning sound!] (Canada) St Laurent Studio YSL T-731, Live Performance, 15 Dec., 1980. Transfers by Yves St Laurent. (C1661)
SIR THOMAS BEECHAM Cond. Symphony of the Air: Concert to the memory of Arturo Toscanini (who had died 16 Jan.), incl. Grieg, Berlioz (featuring Sir Thomas having a rip-roaring good time as he delightedly shouts at the orchestra!) & Brahms (the latter's Symphony #3 in F; "Beecham gave a 'blazing' performance of it at the memorial concert for Arturo Toscanini in New York in January 1957 - John Lucas. Thomas Beecham: An Obsession with Music, p.331.)". (Canada) St Laurent Studio YSL T-765, Live Performance, 23 Jan., 1957. Transfers by Yves St Laurent. (C1659)
“The intensity of the program commands our interest….Since Beecham never made a commercial recording the Brahms Third, his interpretation contains many points of interpretative interest, not the least of which is his taking the first movement repeat. In the course of the fierce development, Beecham’s vocal enthusiasm registers quite distinctly. In the course of the second movement Andante, several distinct string and wind lines emerge - too often elided by more glossy performances. The orchestra bass and cello lines carry a particularly potent weight this evening, and virtually every period comes to a thunderous climax. The last movement, too, especially its canonic play on the ‘Fate’ motif, incurs Beecham’s vocal assertions in concert with a manic drive to layer the texture with a radiant, personal anguish.
The Marche troyenne rarely conveys funereal and mortal sentiments, but here its melody soars above the pounding bass figures with a primal urgency, once incurring Beecham’s voiced demands for increased fervor. The galloping as we approach the coda truly assumes a monumental, awful weight, a plea for the sea to give up her dead. The sonority of this heroic effort will resound in your hearts for a long time, as the concert audience was only too well aware.”
- Gary Lemco, AUDIOPHILE AUDITION, 30 Nov., 2018NICOLAI MALKO Cond. Danish National S.O.: Symphony in Three Movements; Symphony of Psalms; The Firebird – Suite; w.IDA HAENDEL: Violin Concerto in D (all Stravinsky) [Riveting performances, recorded in excellent sound!] (Canada) 2-St Laurent Studio YSL T-709, Live Performance, 29 Jan., 1959, Copenhagen. Transfers by Yves St Laurent. (C1664)
KIRILL KONDRASHIN Cond. NDR S.O.: Symphony #4 in D; Funf Orchesterstucke (Schonberg), Live Performance, 7 March, 1981 [Kondrashin's last concert], Concertgebouw, Amsterdam; KIRILL KONDRASHIN Cond. NRDF S.O.: Scheherazade (Rimsky-Korsakov); Phaeton; w.BERNARD RINGEISSEN: Piano Concerto #5 in F (both Saint-Saens), Live Performance, 19 May, 1978, Salle Playel, Paris. (Canada) 2-St Laurent Studio YSL T-714. Transfers by Yves St Laurent. (C1662)
CHARLES MUNCH Cond. RDF S.O.: Ropartz (the latter's Symphony #5 - World Premiere), Honegger, & Prokofiev. (Canada) St Laurent Studio YSL T-616, Live Performance, 14 Nov., 1946, Theatre des Champs-Elysees. Transfers by Yves St Laurent. (C1660)
TRISTAN UND ISOLDE, Live Performance, 6 Feb., 1943, (replete with Milton Cross' commentary), w. Leinsdorf Cond. Metropolitan Opera Ensemble; Lauritz Melchior, Helen Traubel, Kerstin Thorborg, Julius Huehn, Alexander Kipnis, etc. (Canada) 3-Immortal Performances IPCD 1102. Notes by Richard Caniell & Dewey Faulkner plus a performance review by Claudia Cassidy. Transfers by Richard Caniell. Beautiful Edition features numerous lovely photos & elaborate 46pp. booklet. (OP3284)
“The strengths of this performance do not end with the two protagonists. Kerstin Thorborg sang the role of Brangane 52 times at the Met, partnering both Flagstad and Traubel, and she was worthy of singing alongside both. Thorborg is vocally magnificent in the long lines of Brangane’s Watch in Act II and very specific with her vocal coloring in the music of the first act and beginning of the second. Her warm caring for Isolde is conveyed in the tone in which she she addresses her mistress, particularly after Isolde’s long narration and curse. Julius Huehn makes Kurwenal much more than the cardboard character he often seems. First of all, he sings beautifully, particularly in the last act as Kurwenal tries to comfort Tristan (and, quite possibly, himself). In the first act, Huehn is appropriately brusque, particularly in his exchanges with Brangane. His is an imaginative and convincing portrayal of a character we often overlook….Then there is Alexander Kipnis as King Marke. This is as splendid a piece of singing as one is ever likely to encounter. The king’s long monologue is, surprisingly, uncut - a decision one imagines Leinsdorf made because of the quality of Kipnis’ singing. The rich, deep bass voice produced on a foundation of almost BEL CANTO legato is a unique pleasure to the ear. Kipnis conveys both Marke’s anger and the sadness at Tristan’s betrayal without overdoing either. His reappearance in the final act is thrillingly sonorous, and again very well conceived in terms of the drama….The other cast members in smaller parts are all fine, and the sound Caniell has achieved here remains superb for this period. Listeners who know what to expect from a 1940s AM radio broadcast won’t be disappointed. In fact it sounds better than many such broadcasts. The inclusion of Milton Cross’ closing announcement and curtain calls adds a lovely touch of atmosphere to an important release ”
- Henry Fogel, FANFARE, March /April, 2018PETER GRIMES, Live Performance, 5 April, 1969, w. Colin Davis Cond. Met Opera Ensemble; Jon Vickers, Lucine Amara, Geraint Evans, Jean Madeira, Lili Chookasian, Paul Plishka, etc. (Canada) 2-St Laurent Studio YSL T-720. (OP3281)
“Just as there are people who could talk about seeing Caruso’s Canio or Chaliapin’s Boris, we can say we saw Vickers’ Grimes. It is that powerful in the theatre, and it comes across fully on these discs…. Taking [Britten] at his word, Vickers’ portrayal seems eminently justifiable….Davis is more explosive in his conducting, and Vickers is a bit more extreme in his portrayal [than in the 1978 Philips recording]. The fact that this is a live staged performance surely is responsible for the fire at its center. Davis conducts with a stronger rhythmic pulse than on the Philips recording; the orchestral playing has an incisiveness that underlines the drama and tension at the opera’s core. Vickers was capable of a remarkable range of vocal colors, essential to conveying a character as complex as Grimes. There are moments of warmth and tenderness in the character, and they are necessary to offset Grimes’ dominant brutish behavior elsewhere. Vickers’ towering achievement is to assemble these contrasts into a unified, overwhelmingly vivid characterization….The remainder of the cast is first rate; clearly this is a production in which the Met invested all of its resources….as heard here in very clean and open mono sound. As usual, St. Laurent Studio offers no notes or libretto, but we get full documentation of cast and performance date and a flawless transfer from what was a good source.”
- Henry Fogel, FANFAREMANON (in French), Live Performance, 6 July 1949, Opera Nacional, Mexico City, w.Renato Cellini Cond. Opera Nacional Ensemble; Irma Gonzalez, Giuseppe di Stefano, Giuseppe Valdengo, etc. [Gonzalez delivers a deliciously idiomatic performance! She is a most worthy partner to di Stefano!]; MANON - Excerpts (in Italian), Live Performance, 15 March, 1947, La Scala, w.Guarnieri Cond. La Scala Ensemble; Mafalda Favero, Giuseppe di Stefano, etc.; WERTHER (in Italian), Live Performance, 26 July, 1948, Opera Nacional, Mexico City, w.Renato Cellini Cond. Opera Nacional Ensemble; Giulietta Simionato, Giuseppe di Stefano, etc.; GIUSEPPE DI STEFANO: Arias from Faust, Martha, La Boheme, Le Cid & La Gioconda, from 1950s Standard Hour Broadcasts (partial broadcast commentary in all). (Canada) 4-Immortal Performances IPCD 1098. Notes by Henry Fogel & Richard Caniell. Transfers by Richard Caniell. Elaborate Edition features lovely photos & 54pp. booklet. (OP3283)
“In his all-too-brief prime, Giuseppe di Stefano had one of the most sensuously beautiful tenor voices documented on recordings. It is the kind of beauty that has the power to move listeners, this writer included, to tears. But there is so much more to savor. Di Stefano’s diction both in his native Italian and French was exemplary, a gift he used to the utmost dramatic and musical effect. The young di Stefano also had a breathtakingly wide range of dynamics and colors, even when negotiating the most treacherous high notes….Di Stefano is in top form in both performances….Di Stefano sings the beautiful Act II ‘Dream’ with such melting beauty and artistry that the audience demands and receives an encore. And so it goes, as di Stefano’s interpretation and vocalism move from strength to strength. You could go a lifetime without hearing des Grieux sung with this combination of vocal beauty, artistry, and Italianate passion….The Mexican soprano Irma Gonzalez is a first-rate Manon, one with a lovely and secure lyric voice, an artist who convincingly portrays the heroine’s transformation…. And such treasures are what Immortal Performances gives us in this four-disc set….Producer Richard Caniell has painstakingly corrected the many variations of pitch that marred earlier releases. The recorded sound still falls short of studio recordings of the era, and of the best broadcasts as well. But at long last, we can fully enjoy these irreplaceable mementos of di Stefano at his absolute zenith. The liner notes include Henry Fogel’s beautiful appreciation of the recordings and artists….I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that anyone interested in the greatest tenor voices of the past century should have these di Stefano performances in their collection. And the new Immortal Performances release is the one to have. Very highly recommended.”
- Ken Meltzer, FANFARE, March /April, 2018BELGIAN AND NETHERLANDS SINGERS, incl. Laurent Swolfs, Leon Ponzio, Hippolyte Belhomme, Charles Rondelet, Aaltje Noordewier-Reddingius, Marie-Louise Destercke, Esther Erauw, Lucienne Tragin (with Poulenc), [A unique opportunity to hear largely unknown singers, especially the magnificent Swolfs & Noordewier-Reddingius!]. (France) Malibran AMR 174. (V2589)
DIVINS PIANISSIMI, incl. Milanov, Olivero, Arangi-Lombardi, Prandelli, Doria, Cesbron-Viseur, Friant, Devriès, Fleta, Calvé (her treasured 'Ma Lisette'), Rosing, Tauber, Wittrisch, Zadek, Chaliapin (the latter's haunting 'Persian Love Song'), Melba, Folgar (the latter's uniquely enchanting 'Flor roja'!), Joseph Schwarz (the latter's incomparable 'O quand je dors'), Schumann, McCormack, Ponselle & Alan Bilgora (our duly valued critic singing a Cantorial jewel!). [A special treat for those whose shelves don't permit too many complete works!] (France) Malibran AMR 172. (V2587)
SMARTER THAN BOTH OF US ! ! !
We are grateful to so many of our readers who continue to note that our once-regular use of accent marks have become rather erratic. Due to the ever-growing popular use of ‘Smart’ Phones, Google automatically and frequently is restricting such marks, as well as that which we consider regular punctuation. In compliance with Google’s restrictive demands, as well as the fact that such complicated listings will require too long a period during which to download, or may not succeed in downloading at all, most of our newer listings are deleting such marks, much to our sense of loss. While our older listings so far retain such marks, we are informed that it won’t be long before they too automatically will be amended. We certainly take pride in our presentation, but are being compelled to adapt to another loss of style in these fast-paced times! We very sincerely appreciate so many of your valued comments and commiseration!!!
. . . numerous out-of-print CDs and LPs,
[many sealed copies of numerous out-of-print additions:
The Record Collector, Naxos, VRCS, Issues of
Symposium's Harold Wayne series,
Romophone, GOP & many Met Opera
broadcasts & operas from Moscow’s Aquarius, plus
numerous lesser-known operas have been added
throughout our listings, in appropriate categories . . .
out-of-print books [many biographies,
Record Catalogue-Discographies . . .
numerous CDs are added each week] . . .
Our 50% Discount Sale continues,
now offering more than 2500 titles . . .
- - - - - - - 78rpm collectors, please note auctions from:
Dave Schmutz, www.78classicalgallery.com - or at: 818-242-6247
------------------ ANNOUNCEMENT -----------------
Norbeck, Peters & Ford's Annual 78rpm Auction Has Now Closed!
This auction featured an entire section of which is dedicated to 7" discs, plus many wonderful instrumental and vocal rarities, many of which we're offering for the first time in our 45 years of operation.
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OP3286. BLUEBEARD'S CASTLE (in French) (Bartók), Live Performance, 17 April, 1950, w. Ansermet Cond. Renée Gilly & Lucien Lovano; BÉLA BARTÓK: Romanian Folk Dances (Played by the Composer, recorded 1940, New York); BÉLA BARTÓK & JOSEPH SZIGETI: Violin Sonata (Debussy), Live Performance, 13 April, 1940, Washington; OSKAR KÁLMÁN [Creator of the role of Bluebeard, 1918]: Zauberflöte - In diesen heil'gen Hallen - recorded 1929, Berlin. (France) Malibran 175. - 7600003778079
P1291. JORGE BOLET: Chopin, Brahms, Schubert & Liszt Recital. [In every respect, as one would expect, a treasurable recital;
recorded in brilliant sound!] Transfers by Yves St Laurent. (Canada) 2-St Laurent Studio YSL T-750, Live Performance, 11 Aug., 1971, Bloomington, Indiana.
OP3282. ELEKTRA, Live Performance, 1977, Onondaga County Civic Center, Syracuse, NY, w. Christopher Keene Cond. Syracuse S.O., w. Olivia Stapp, Natalie Costa, Lili Chookasian, Alan Crabb, Richard Cross, etc. (Canada) 2-St Laurent Studio YSL T-762
C1669. ANDRÉ CLUYTENS Cond. RTF S.O.: Symphony in C (Bizet); Nocturnes – Images; Fêtes (Debussy); w.NATHAN MILSTEIN: Symphonie espagnole (Lalo). (Canada) St Laurent Studio YSL T-773, Live Performance, 11 Sept., 1955. [A delightfully effervescent program, well-recorded in remarkably fresh, open sound!] Transfers by Yves St Laurent.
Renata Scotto, Vol. I Hunter College, 1970; John Wustman (St Laurent Studio YSL T-665)
Carmen - 9 Jan., 1937 (Papi; Ponselle, Rayner, Bodanya, Huehn) (2-St Laurent Studio YSL T-649)
Mark Reizen - Live Recital, 15 March, 1958 (Aquarius AQVR 408)
Bruno Walter - Treasury of Little Known Broadcasts (Steber, Tourel, Simoneau, Forrester) (4-Immortal Performances IPCD 1099)
Salome - Two Performances (Reiner; Welitsch; Krauss; Cebotari) (4-Immortal Performances IPCD 1089)
Walkure, Act III (Traubel, Janssen) - Tristan, Act II, 1944 (Melchior, Traubel) (2-Immortal Performances IPCD 1093)
Regine Crespin; Karl Kritz, Thomas Schippers, John Wustman (2-Immortal Performances IPCD 1085)
Istvan Kertesz, Vol. I; Birgit Finnila & Simone Mangelsdorff (Mahler) (St Laurent Studio YSL T-451)
Faust (Pelletier; Richard Crooks, Helen Jepson, Richard Bonelli, Ezio Pinza) (2-Immortal Performances IPCD 1097)
Don Giovanni (Bruno Walter; Pinza, Rethberg, Lazzari, Dino Borgioli) ( 3-Immortal Performances IPCD 1091)
Forza (Molinari-Pradelli; Leontyne Price, Corelli, Merrill, Hines, Corena) (2-St Laurent Studio YSL T-652)
I Vespri Siciliani (Levine; Renata Scotto, Elvira, Ochman, Raimondi) (2-St Laurent Studio YSL T-677)
Der Fliegende Hollander (Steiner; Janssen, Bohme, Friedrich, Andersen) (2-Immortal Performances IPCD 1080)
Erich Leinsdorf, Vol. IV; Idil Biret - debut (St Laurent Studio YSL T-380)
Fritz Reiner - Schubert, Delius & Tschaikowsky (St Laurent Studio YSL T-607)
Die Walkure (Szell; Bampton, Traubel, Melchior, Janssen, Thorborg, Kipnis) (3-Immortal Performances IPCD 1081)
Madama Butterfly (Patane; Scotto, Aragall, Edwards) (2-St Laurent Studio YSL T-658)
Arturo Toscanini (Beethoven 9th); Bovy, Thorborg, Peerce, Pinza (2-Immortal Performances IPCD 1079)
Rheingold (Boulez; Donald McIntyre, Zoltan Kelemen, Bengt Rundgren, Matti Salminen) (2-St Laurent Studio YSL T-590)
Zinka Milanov - Final Recital, plus Interview with William H. Wells (2-St Laurent Studio YSL T-648)
George Szell, Vol. VII; Erica Morini; Geza Anda (St Laurent Studio YSL T-426)
Die Meistersinger (Szell; Janssen, Steber, Thorborg, Kullman, List, Harrell) (3-Immortal Performances IPCD 1088)
Gotterdammerung (Boulez; Jones, Thomas, Kelemen, Ridderbusch) (4-St Laurent Studio YSL T-723)
Die Fledermaus (Kozma; Steber, Kullman, Munsel, Hayward, Novotna, Brownlee) (2-St Laurent Studio T-647)
Klaus Tennstedt, Vol. IV (Bruckner 7th - Boston) (St Laurent Studio YSL T-570)
Marian Anderson, Vol. III (St Laurent Studio YSL 78-629)
Pelleas et Melisande (Haitink - Boston; Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, Keenlyside, Finley) (3-St Laurent Studio YSL T-521)
Das Lied von der Erde (Rodzinski; Thorborg & Kullman) (3-Immortal Performances IPCD-1090)
Klaus Tennstedt, Vol. I (Bruckner 8th - Boston) (St Laurent Studio YSL T-332)
Mignon / Carmen (Swarthout, Vinay, Hackett, Albanese, Pinza) (4-Immortal Performances IPCD 1096)
Siegfried (Boulez; McIntyre, Jones, Kollo, Kelemen, Zednik, Rundgren) (3-St Laurent Studio YSL T-670)
Falstaff (Levine; Taddei, Neblett, Cossotto, Blegen, Monk, Ahlstedt, Tajo) (2-St Laurent Studio YSL T-653)
Il Trovatore (Cleva; Leontyne Price, Franco Corelli, Dalis, Sereni) (2-St Laurent Studio YSL T-650)
Tosca (Adler; Leontyne Price, Franco Corelli, Cornell MacNeil) (2-St Laurent Studio T-681)
Lohengrin (Rosenstock; Konya, Crespin, Rankin, Cassel) (3-St Laurent Studio YSL T-662)
Nozze (Panizza; Rethberg, Albanese, Stevens, Pinza, Brownlee, Baccaloni) (3-Immortal Performances IPCD 1094)
Arturo Toscanini - Victor Records Restored (3-Immortal Performances IPCD 1087)
Walkure (Boulez; McIntyre, Hofmann, Jones, Bode, Salminen, Randova) (3-St Laurent Studio YSL T-645)
Forza (Stiedry; Milanov, Tucker, Warren, Hines) (2-St Laurent Studio T-679)
Landmarks of Recorded Pianism, Vol. I (Lipatti, Cortot, Novaes, Rosenthal, Horowitz, Niryeghazy) (2-Marston 52073)
Gianna Pederzini; Renato Zanelli (2-St. Laurent Studio 78-522)
La Navarraise; Griselidis (Moizan, Vanzo, Mollien, Roux, Mars) (2-Malibran 813)
Ariadne auf Naxos (Scherman; Eileen Farrell, Mattiwilda Dobbs, Jon Crain) (St Laurent Studio YSL T-517)
Charles Rousseliere (The Record Collector TRC 46)
Giuseppe Campanari (St Laurent Studio YSL 78-728)
Sergei Rachmaninoff (3-Marston 53022)
Der Rosenkavalier (Szell; Jessner, Novotna, Conner, List) (3-Immortal Performances IPCD 1092)
Samson et Dalila (Pelletier; Maison, Stevens, Warren, Moscona) (2-Immortal Performances IPCD 1084)
Peter Grimes (Colin Davis; Vickers, Amara, Evans, Madeira, Chookasian, Plishka (2-St Laurent Studio YSL T-720)
Missa Solemnis - Toscanini; Milanov, Thorborg, von Pataky, Moscona (2-Immortal Performances IPCD 1086)