V1742. GÉRARD SOUZAY, w.Dalton Baldwin (Pf.): Songs by Fauré, Poulenc, Leguerney, Hahn, Duparc, Gounod, Chabrier, Bizet, Franck, Ravel & Roussel. (E.U.) 4–Newton Classics 8802007, recorded 1960-68. - 8718247710072
“Gérard Souzay, the French baritone who was one of the 20th century's finest interpreters of art songs frequently appeared in opera - including New York City Opera and the Met - and was widely held to be the definitive Golaud in Debussy's PÉLLÉAS ET MÉLISANDE. But it was in art song that he made his greatest mark, and not only in the songs of French composers. His more than 750 recordings include classic versions of Schumann, Schubert and Hugo Wolf.
Mr. Souzay certainly did have a proper voice: not huge, but rich in color and tone, supple, sensual and lovely. His reluctance to be stereotyped as merely a French singer was related to the fact that he tended to be eclipsed by his contemporary the German baritone and art-song specialist Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. Many aficionados have always preferred Souzay. The difference between the two is crudely outlined in the notion that Fischer-Dieskau specialized in intellectual, text-driven, carefully planned performances, while Mr. Souzay was more of a sensualist, reacting viscerally to the music and allowing it to carry him in new directions in a given concert.
Born in December 1918 as Gérard Tisserand, Mr. Souzay studied with Bernac, Claire Croiza and Vanni Marcoux at the Paris Conservatory, from 1940 to 1945. His opera career didn't begin until 1960, when he made his début in Aix-en-Provence in Purcell's DIDO AND AENEAS, but by then he was already well established as a recitalist and recording artist. Famously loyal to his accompanists, he recorded only with two, Jacqueline Bonneau, and Dalton Baldwin, who was still a student when he met Mr. Souzay. The two began a long artistic and personal association.
‘Simply, music means a lot to me and I feel very deeply what I sing’, Mr. Souzay once said. ‘Sometimes when I sing I shiver. But it's not because I love what I am doing. It's because music moves me to the bones’."
- Anne Midgette, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 19 AUG., 2004
“I can only hope I have come as close to the substance of the subject matter in the mélodies and chansons as [Souzay] did in the lieder of Schubert and Schumann.”
- Dietrich Fischer-Disakau