V0278. BENJAMIN BRITTEN, w.Sophie Wyss, Peter Pears, Nancy Evans, Joan Cross, Eric Crozier, John Lucas & Phillip Reed: Folksong arrangements; PETER GRIMES (Scenes) / THE RAPE OF LUCRETIA (Abridged). 2-EMI 64727, recorded 1943-50. Very long out-of-print, Final Sealed Copy! - 077776472720
“Sophie Adele Wyss was a Swiss soprano who made her career as a concert singer and broadcaster in the UK. She was noted for her performances of French works, many of them new to Britain, for giving the world premieres of Benjamin Britten's orchestral song cycles OUR HUNTING FATHERS (1936) and LES ILLUMINATIONS (1940), and for encouraging other composers to set English and French texts. Among those who wrote for her were Lennox Berkeley, Arnold Cooke, Roberto Gerhard, Elizabeth Maconchy, Peter Racine Fricker, Alan Rawsthorne and Mátyás Seiber.
THE TIMES said that Wyss ‘possesses a soprano voice of an exquisitely yielding quality … a singer so completely satisfying that we would not trust ourselves to say how much of the pleasure we derived from her performances was due to her or the music itself’.
Wyss encouraged British composers to set French texts for her to perform. The most famous work that resulted from this was Britten's LES ILLUMINATIONS to words by Rimbaud, which Wyss premiered in London in 1940 with Boyd Neel and his orchestra. Wyss was equally at home with English texts, such as those in Britten's OUR HUNTING FATHERS (1936) and ON THIS ISLAND (1937). Britten dedicated Vol. 2 of his FOLK SONG ARRANGEMENTS (1942) to Wyss and Gyde's two sons, Arnold and Humphrey. She gave the first performance of his 8 French Folksongs, in a 1942 National Gallery recital with Gerald Moore, and she and Britten later recorded five of these songs.
As a near neighbour of Gerald Finzi's from 1941, Wyss performed in several of his concerts involving the Newbury String Players, singing the Aria from Finzi's DIES NATALIS as well as works by William Byrd, Henry Purcell, George Frideric Handel, Ivor Gurney, and Ralph Vaughan Williams. Wyss gave many first performances of works in French or English by composers including Lennox Berkeley, Arnold Cooke, Roberto Gerhard, Elizabeth Maconchy, Peter Racine Fricker, Alan Rawsthorne, George Enescu, Antony Hopkins and Mátyás Seiber. She was also a leading exponent in the UK of songs by Gabriel Fauré, Claude Debussy, Reynaldo Hahn, Maurice Ravel and other French composers. During a career that lasted until the early 1960s, Wyss broadcast extensively for the BBC, and made concert tours in continental Europe and Australia. She died in Bognor Regis on the south coast of England at the age of 86. In an obituary notice, THE TIMES concluded, ‘Her contribution to British musical life was something special and will be hard to replace.’"