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Yves St Laurent presents
LEONTYNE PRICE, BERGONZI & MERRILL
in the Met’s 1966 BALLO IN MASCHERA
from the Old House . . .
YVONNE LEFEBURE, Vol. 5 . . .
DAVID OISTRAKH, Vol. 15 . . .
BARBIROLLI, Vol. 2 . . .
and ‘SALE’ titles continue. . .
UN BALLO IN MASCHERA, Live Performance, 26 Feb., 1966, w.Molinari-Pradelli Cond. Met Opera Ensemble; Leontyne Price, Carlo Bergonzi, Robert Merrill, Mignon Dunn, Roberta Peters, etc. (Canada) 2-St Laurent Studio YSL T-983. Transfers by Yves St Laurent. (OP3396)
“Verdi's MASKED BALL sounded better than it did three seasons ago on its return to the Metropolitan last night. The reasons were many but two in particular: Leontyne Price as Amelia and Francesco Molinari-Pradelli as the conductor. It was a first time for both of them. Miss Price returned to the company in her new role: Mr. Molinari-Pradelli made his debut. What with some glorious singing by the most famous of Negro sopranos and some truly professional Italianate musical direction by a conductor who should have come much sooner to the Met.
All the velvet in Miss Price's voice served her well last night. Her top register sounded clearer and her mezzo range glowed. She negotiated the arduous pages of the [beginning] of the second act skillfully and will doubtless bring more of a thrill in subsequent performances. As soon as she started her duet with Carlo Bergonzi, she sang with more assurance. From then on a listener could only be ecstatic, for here is a great soprano.
One began to appreciate the leadership emanating from the pit. The Met now has another authoritative conductor. With Mr. Bergonzi to sing Riccardo so stylishly and Robert Merrill to glorify a great baritone voice so sonorously as Renato, the male members of this eternal triangle made handsome contributions vocally.
As the apex of interest, Miss Price portrayed Amelia understandingly. She is already inside the role and aware of Amelia's plight.
As Oscar Roberta Peters showed herself a good actress, too, making the most of a most peculiar role. Vocally she had her uncertain spots though she could top the others when the score demanded.
Mignon Dunn had her moment last night. She has gained stature as Ulrica and in full voice came through splendidly. The audience recognized her achievement outspokenly.
As the performance progressed it attained vocal distinction last night. Now that it is again in the repertory, it should be one of the major attractions for the remainder of the season.”
- Miles Kastendieck, THE JOURNAL-AMERICAN
“UN BALLO IN MASCHERA, one of Verdi’s finest middle period works, has fared quite well on discs, with several first-rate studio recordings.
This Met broadcast of Ballo that took place 26 February 1966, just a few months before the Rome RCA sessions. It features Bergonzi, Price, and Merrill. On this occasion, each is in every bit as fine voice as the studio effort. In other words, each sings with surpassing tonal beauty and security, throughout all registers. It’s hard to imagine these roles better vocalized. Bergonzi is magnificent in the RCA studio BALLO. But in my opinion, this Met broadcast surpasses that considerable achievement. Although he was someone who hardly cut the most imposing figure on stage, Bergonzi loved to perform and interact with his audience. For my money, Bergonzi’s live performances always contained an extra degree of passion and sparkle. That is certainly the case in this Met broadcast. From the very first entrance, Bergonzi is fully engaged, delivering his opening recitative crisply and with great style. From there, the performance goes from strength to strength, with the tenor embodying all of the aspects that make Riccardo one of Verdi’s most compelling tenor creations - a benevolent leader, a passionate but guilt-ridden lover, and (rare among Verdi tenors) someone with an engaging sense of humor. As in the studio recording, Bergonzi’s high notes ring out thrillingly. His mastery of dynamics, including a stunning diminuendo immediately before Riccardo’s death is the work of a consummate artist and technician. A wonderful performance by a master singer in one of his best roles, and at the height of his powers.
Likewise, Leontyne Price is in glorious form, and even more passionate than in the studio recording. To hear Price and Bergonzi’s voices soar together in the great Act II love duet is what grand opera is all about. As in the case of Bergonzi’s Riccardo, Price’s Amelia is a fine souvenir of a treasured artist.
Likewise, Robert Merrill is more dramatically involved in this Met broadcast than in the RCA studio recording. Unfortunately, that extra involvement often manifests itself in the explosions of sound Merrill often substituted for a more subtle (and for me, more effective) means of expression. But there is no denying the uniquely glorious, rich sound of Merrill’s voice and, for the better part, the musical way he uses it. Mignon Dunn as Ulrica and Roberta Peters as Oscar more than hold their own. Francesco Molinari-Pradelli and the Met Orchestra give a propulsive and compelling account of this marvelous work.
I think fans of Bergonzi and Price will enjoy hearing these singers rise to the occasion in ‘the heat of the moment’ to surpass their exceptional studio efforts. Bergonzi’s Riccardo, Price’s Amelia, and, to a somewhat lesser degree, Merrill’s Renato, are performances for the ages.”
- Classical CD Review, Oct., 2004YVONNE LEFEBURE: Ich ruf zu dir Herr Jesu Christ, BWV 639; Prelude and Fugue in C-sharp, BWV 848; The Great Prelude & Fugue in a, BWV 543; Prelude and Fugue in e-flat minor, BWV 853; Organ Concerto in d, BWV 596 (all Bach); The Great Prelude & Fugue in a, BWV 543 (Bach-Liszt); Another delightful and stimulating Interview with Yvonne Lefebure & Remy Stricker. [An excursion into a realm of peace!] (Canada) St Laurent Studio YSL T-1109, Broadcast Performance, 31 Jan., 1971, Paris. Transfers by Yves St Laurent. (P1398)
“Yvonne Lefebure (1904-86) was a pupil of, among others, Widor, Dukas and Cortot, and in turn she taught such young players as Dinu Lipatti, Samson François, Janina Fialkowska and Imogen Cooper. Though she performed throughout Europe and America, it was as a teacher that she was best known. Nerves, it seems, prevented her from having a more high-profile concert career….formidable, vivacious and coquettish by turns, and her ability to pack as many words into 10 seconds as she could notes on the piano, rendered in a relentless delivery that had not taken account of the invention of the microphone.”
- Jeremy Nicholas, GRAMOPHONE, May, 2006
“…unlike the traditional Germanic left-brained approach, hers is from the heart. She manages to draw you in totally to the music with such amazing passion and energy. She attracted an international class to her studios at the Ecole Normale de Musique, Paris Conservatoire and Conservatoire Europeen, and in masterclasses at her own festival in Saint-Germain-en-Laye.”
- Graham Fitch, 15 Aug., 2014DAVID OISTRAKH, w.Kondrashin Cond. Moscow State S.O.: Concert Suite, Op.28 (Taneyev); w.Otar Vasilisdze Taktakishvili Cond. USSR Radio Orch.: Concertino for Violin & Orchestra (Cond. by the COMPOSER); w.Vladimir Yampolsky: Poeme elegiaque in d (Ysaye). [The Ysaye is truly the piece de resistance!] (Canada) St Laurent Studio 33-1128, recorded 1951-59. Transfers by Yves St Laurent. (S0807)
"David Oistrakh is considered the premiere violinist of the mid-twentieth century from the Soviet Union. His recorded legacy includes nearly the entire standard violin repertory up to and including Prokofiev and Bartok. In 1937 the Soviet government sent him to Brussels to compete in the International Ysaye Competition, where he took home first prize. With his victory in Brussels, Soviet composers began to take notice of their young compatriot, enabling Oistrakh to work closely with Miaskovsky and Khachaturian on their concerti in 1939 and 1940, respectively. In addition, his close friendship with Shostakovich led the composer to write two concerti for the instrument (the first of which Oistrakh played at his, and its, triumphant American premiere in 1955). During the 1940s Oistrakh's active performing schedule took him across the Soviet Union, but his international career had to wait until the 1950s when the political climate had cooled enough for Soviet artists to be welcomed in the capitals of the West.
Throughout his career David Oistrakh was known for his honest, warm personality; he developed close friendships with many of the leading musicians of the day. His violin technique was virtually flawless, though he never allowed purely physical matters to dominate his musical performances. He always demanded of himself (and his students) that musical proficiency, intelligence, and emotion be in balance, regardless of the particular style. Oistrakh felt that a violinist's essence was communicated through clever and subtle use of the bow, and not through overly expressive use of vibrato. To this end he developed a remarkably relaxed, flexible right arm technique, capable of producing the most delicate expressive nuances, but equally capable of generating great volume and projection."
- Blair Johnston, allmusic.comSIR JOHN BARBIROLLI Cond. B.B.C. S.O.: God save the Queen (att. John Bull); Symphony #39 in E-flat, K.543 (Mozart); Symphony #2 in E-flat (Elgar). (Canada) 2-St Laurent Studio YSL T-984, Live Performance, 20 May, 1964, Coventry Cathedral, England. Transfers by Yves St Laurent. (C1901)
"Barbirolli has been perceived as not much at all, really - just another one of the Philharmonic conductors, often overlooked today, who came between Toscanini and, in the late ’50s, Leonard Bernstein….‘They either adore me or I nauseate them’, Barbirolli said of his listeners, and it’s easy to hear why. Here was a conductor with a singular style, harking back to the days of the Romantics, late and later, whom he loved to perform. Details mattered to him, as did a sense of the whole, but he was never bothered by scrappiness or slips; what counted was the sound, the spirit of a composer, and he would stop at nothing to capture it. He was a depressive workaholic who stayed up late into the night marking up scores, learning them for months before rehearsing them for nine hours a day, tempers flaring. He was a brilliant cellist, and he could make his string sections sing like no one else, drawing out the longest of lines with the fullest of bows, swooping from note to note in defiance of all fashion. What he conducted, he conducted with heart….
His break came in 1927, covering for a Thomas Beecham concert with the London Symphony. One critic called it ‘astonishing’ but chided him for ‘sentimentalizing’, even ‘violating’, Elgar’s Second Symphony. It would become a familiar indictment, but an HMV record executive decided to sign him that night….word of his promise reached the [New York] Philharmonic’s boss, Arthur Judson, who thought for a while of offering Barbirolli a week or two of guest conducting. But with the Furtwängler debacle raw, Judson sent a surprising telegram in April 1936, offering a full third of the 1936-37 season to this lowly director of Glasgow’s Scottish Orchestra, overnight making him Toscanini’s presumed successor. Barbirolli was shocked; the British press was baffled, and not a little afraid. The stakes became clear as Barbirolli stepped ashore in America.
Reporters startled him, asking how it felt to follow Toscanini….Barbirolli was as awed as anybody. His father and grandfather had played with Toscanini, including in the orchestra in the 1887 premiere of Verdi’s OTELLO, which the great man remembered when they met. Barbirolli had attended Toscanini’s rehearsals and concerts in London for years, emerging spellbound and writing that the Italian conductor ‘radiates something very pure and noble’. But they were opposites in style. Toscanini’s conducting was lean, driven by rhythm; Barbirolli’s was lush, driven by lyricism. ‘I look for warmth and ‘cantabile’ and a working atmosphere where men play beyond the call of duty’, the younger man said.
When World War II was underway, Barbirolli was unwilling to take American citizenship to satisfy union rules, and was sick for his home country. He let his Philharmonic contract end with the 1941-42 season, remaining in the United States and making guest appearances the following year only because the wartime voyage across the Atlantic was so perilous. He would not come back to the Philharmonic until 1959.
Offers immediately came for Barbirolli’s services, first from the London Symphony and then the BBC, but he stayed dedicated to the Halle, even as his dreadfully paid players often did not. He took on more guest conducting after 1958, and even a second post at the Houston Symphony between 1961 and 1967, but he would spend most of the rest of his life training and retraining the Manchester orchestra.
There’s a certain ‘what if’ quality about the final decades of Barbirolli’s career, then - one made all the more haunting by the success of some of his later recordings with other orchestras, which benefited from EMI technology that the Halle rarely had access to on its mass-market labels….And then there is his Elgar, which has the authority of tradition: Barbirolli played under Elgar at the premiere of his Cello Concerto, and elsewhere. He helped Jacqueline du Pre make that concerto famous in a classic recording, but also brought conviction to works like the ‘Cockaigne Overture’ (recorded three times, with the love of a born Londoner), the ‘Introduction and Allegro’ (a trifle that Barbirolli turned into a masterpiece six times on record) and even the ‘Elegy’, short and sentimental.”
- David Allen, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 13 Aug., 2020- - - REPEATED FROM THE RECENT PAST - - -
JEANNE GAUTIER, w.Igor Stravinsky Cond. RAI S.O., Torino: Violin Concerto in D (Cond. by the COMPOSER), Live Performance, 23 April, 1954; JEANNE GAUTIER, w.Andre Girard Cond. RTF Chamber Orch. & Trio de France: Concertino for Piano Trio & String Orch. (Martinu), Live Performance, 8 June, 1961, Paris; JEANNE GAUTIER, w.Trio de France: Piano Trio #2 in F (Schumann), Broadcast Performance, 30 June, 1958, Paris. (Canada) St Laurent Studio YSL T-1025. Transfers by Yves St Laurent. (S0806)
TOSCA, Live Performance, 23 March, 1957, w.Mitropoulos Cond. Met Opera Ensemble; Licia Albanese, Daniele Barioni, Leonard Warren, etc. (Canada) 2-St Laurent Studio YSL T-972. (OP3394)
TRISTAN UND ISOLDE, Live Performance, 29 Jan., 1938, (replete with Milton Cross' commentary), w.Bodanzky Cond. Met Opera Ensemble; Kirsten Flagstad, Lauritz Melchior, Gertrude Wettergren, Julius Huehn, Emanuel List, etc. (Canada) 3-Immortal Performances IPCD 1146. Notes by Dewey Faulkner & Richard Caniell. Transfers by Richard Caniell. Elaborate Edition features numerous lovely photos & elaborate 60pp. booklet. World Premiere Release. (OP3393)
PELLEAS ET MELISANDE, Live Performance, 2 Jan., 1954, w.Monteux Cond. Met Opera Ensemble; Nadine Conner, Theodore Uppman, Martial Singher, Martha Lipton, Jerome Hines, etc. [A minor caveat is the thin and occasionally variable sound, yet this sensitive performance plays most clearly] (Canada) 2-St Laurent Studio YSL T-526. Transfers by Yves St Laurent. (OP3392)
NINETEENTH-CENTURY FRENCH BARITONES, Volume 1, incl. Leon Melchissedec, Jean Lassalle, Max Bouvet, and Maurice Renaud. 3-Marston 53024, recorded 1899-1913. Transfers by Ward Marston. Elaborate 63pp profusely illustrated Booklet w.Biographical Notes by Vincent Giroud & Luc Bourrousse, the foreword by Crutchfield. (V2648)
LUCREZIA BORI: A Tribute, incl. LA RONDINE - Act 2, with Mario Chamlee, Live Performance, 8 Oct., 1934 St. Louis Opera, Live Performance, (not Chicago nor San Francisco [as erroneously assumed in the past]); LA BOHEME - Act 4, final scene, w.Carlo Sabajno, Cond. La Scala Ensemble; Tito Schipa, Ernesto Badini, Luigi Manfrini, Aristide Baracchi & Thea Vitulli, recorded 1925; Act 1, final scene, w.Otto Klemperer, Cond. Los Angeles Phil., & Joseph Bentonelli – Live Performance, 6 June, 1937; MANON – Act 3, scene 2, w.Louis Hasselmans Cond. Met Opera Ensemble; Richard Crooks & Leon Rothier – Live Performance, 29 March, 1936 (Bori's Met Farewell), including Lucrezia Bori’s speech; L’ENFANT PRODIGUE - Azaël! Azaël! Pourquoi m'as-tu quitte?, w.Goossens Cond. Met Opera Orch., Live Performance, 30 Dec., 1934; Arias from La Boheme, Madama Butterfly, Louise, La Fille du Regiment, Pagliacci, Mignon & La Rondine – recorded 1925-35. (Canada) 2-Immortal Performances IPCD 1136. Restoration and Transfers by Richard Caniell. Notes by Richard Caniell & William Russell. With elaborate 46pp booklet. (V2650)
ELISABETH RETHBERG - A Tribute, incl. LA BOHEME – Act I (almost complete) and Act III (complete), w.Vincenzo Belezza Cond. Met Opera Ensemble; Elisabeth Rethberg, Frederic Jagel, Nina Morgana, Giuseppe de Luca, Millo Picco & Ezio Pinza (3/23/1935); DON GIOVANNI - Excerpts, w.Ettore Panizza, Cond. Met Opera Ensemble; Elisabeth Rethberg & Richard Crooks (1/14/1939); LA JUIVE - Act II, w.Gaetano Merola Cond. San Francisco Opera Ensemble; Elisabeth Rethberg, Charlotte Boerner, Giovanni Martinelli & Hans Clemens (10/13/1936); UN BALLO IN MASCHERA - Act II, scene 1, w.Gennaro Papi Cond San Francisco Opera Ensemble; Elisabeth Rethberg & Jussi Bjorling (10/23/1940) & Excerpts from MADAMA BUTTERFLY (in English, from 1934 WEAF Broadcast) and DIE MEISTERSINGER (w.Friedrich Schorr & Charles Kullman, 1936). (Canada) 2-Immortal Performances IPCD 1137. Restoration and Transfers by Richard Caniell. Notes by Richard Caniell & Dewey Faulkner. With elaborate 46pp booklet. (V2649)
KAREL ANCERL Cond. Czech Phil.: MA VLAS – Vltava (Smetana); 'New World' Symphony #9 in e (Dvorak); Serenade for Orchestra (Isa Krejci); w.SAMSON FRANCOIS: Piano Concerto #3 in C (Prokofiev). (Canada) 2-St Laurent Studio YSL T-1084, Live Performance, 30 Oct., 1958, Salle Pleyel, Paris. Transfers by Yves St Laurent. (C1900)
LOVRO von MATACIC Cond.ORTF S.O., w.LEONID KOGAN: 'To the Memory of an Angel' Violin Concerto (Berg), Live Performance, 13 Jan., 1971; w.NIKITA MAGALOFF: Piano Concerto #3 in C (Prokofiev), Live Performance, 29 29 Jan., 1963; LOVRO von MATACIC Cond. Paris Conservatoire S.O., w.ALEXANDER UNINSKY: Piano Concerto #3 in C (Prokofiev), Live Performance, 5 Feb., 1967 (all Theatre des Champs-Elysees). (Canada) St Laurent Studio YSL T-706. Transfers by Yves St Laurent. (C1899)
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OP3396. UN BALLO IN MASCHERA, Live Performance, 26 Feb., 1966, w.Molinari-Pradelli Cond. Met Opera Ensemble; Leontyne Price, Carlo Bergonzi, Robert Merrill, Mignon Dunn, Roberta Peters, etc. (Canada) 2-St Laurent Studio YSL T-983. Transfers by Yves St Laurent.
P1398. YVONNE LEFÉBURE: Ich ruf zu dir Herr Jesu Christ, BWV 639; Prelude and Fugue in C-sharp, BWV 848; The Great Prelude & Fugue in a, BWV 543; Prelude and Fugue in e-flat minor, BWV 853; Organ Concerto in d, BWV 596 (all Bach); The Great Prelude & Fugue in a, BWV 543 (Bach-Liszt); Another delightful and stimulating Interview with Yvonne Lefébure & Rémy Stricker. [An excursion into a realm of peace!] (Canada) St Laurent Studio YSL T-1109, Broadcast Performance, 31 Jan., 1971, Paris. Transfers by Yves St Laurent.
S0807. DAVID OISTRAKH, w.Kondrashin Cond. Moscow State S.O.: Concert Suite, Op.28 (Taneyev); w.Otar Vasilisdze Taktakishvili Cond. USSR Radio Orch.: Concertino for Violin & Orchestra (Cond. by the COMPOSER); w.Vladimir Yampolsky: Poème élégiaque in d (Ysaÿe). [The Ysaÿe is truly the pièce de résistance!] (Canada) St Laurent Studio 33-1128, recorded 1951-59. Transfers by Yves St Laurent.
C1901. SIR JOHN BARBIROLLI Cond. B.B.C. S.O.: God save the Queen att. John Bull); Symphony #39 in E-flat, K.543 (Mozart); Symphony #2 in E-flat (Elgar). (Canada) 2-St Laurent Studio YSL T-984, Live Performance, 20 May, 1964, Coventry Cathedral, England. Transfers by Yves St Laurent.