OP1566. DIDO AND AENEAS (Purcell), recorded 11 Jan., 1951, w.Capdevielle Cond. Genève Ensemble & Orchestre de la Suisse Romande; Irma Kolassi, Yvon le Marc’Hadour, Gisèle Vivarelli, Hugues Cuénod, Marguerite Pifteau, etc. (Switzerland) Cascavelle VEL 3107. - 409350310720 7619930310719
“Irma Kolassi was born in Athens to a family of musicians who became established in Paris a few months after her birth. Her first language was French, and her uncle, a violinist who studied with Georges Enescu, provided her initiation into music. Kolassi then entered the Athens conservatory to study piano, where she carried away a brilliant first prize at the age of 14, playing Ravel’s ’Gaspard de la Nuit’. At her uncle’s house, she met Dimitri Mitropoulos several times. He recognized that she was an accomplished musician. As he was leaving Greece to embark on an international career, he recommended her to soprano Maggie Karadja. After three years of study, with the piano still playing an integral role, the jury decided to award her the first prize in singing for the year 1938. Without the benefit of a scholarship, Irma Kolassi left for Rome in 1938, where she took singing and piano lessons with Casella and Edwige Ghibaudo. World War II caused her to return to Athens and she appeared on stage, but she was not happy at the opera and decided instead to teach (she worked with Maria Callas about the role of Fidelio in 1944!). She then returned to France in 1948. From then on, her career blossomed. She worked with all of the great musicians of her day (von Beinum, Rosbaud, Monteux, Münch, van Otterloo, Krips, Giulini, to name but a few). She was also very successful in works by Schönberg, Berg, Mussorgsky and Stravinsky, among other modern composers. She became a well-known teacher and gave masterclasses in Europe and Japan.
Conoisseurs of French song know her and love her. She left behind only a limited discography. She recorded a magnificent ‘Poème de l’amour et de la Mer’ by Chausson. We associate French Singing with a clear, bright and forward tone; elegance of phrasing and diction, an equal concern for tonal beauty and eloquent declamation. Irma Kolassi is a refined and cultivated singer. Her declamatory style focuses more on dynamics than color, and her expressive register, varied as it is, always command a nobility of tone. Her direct predecessors in this repertory had been Claire Croiza and Jane Bathori.”
- Andrea Shum-Binder, subito-cantabile