C1654. PIERRE BOULEZ Cond. Cleveland S.O.: Images pour Orchestre, Nos. 7 - 11 (Debussy); w.JUDITH RASKIN: Les Nuits d'Ete (Berlioz). [The most sensitive and beautiful performance of 'Les Nuits d'Ete ' one can imagine - albeit one caveat, rather thin sound.] (Canada) St Laurent Studio YSL T-736, Live Performance, 16 Nov., 1967, Severance Hall. Transfers by Yves St Laurent.
"Judith Raskin, the American lyric soprano famed for her voice and musicianship, was a leading singer with the New York City Opera, and then at the Metropolitan Opera from 1962 to 1972. Miss Raskin was hailed as one of the finest artists of her time. She had a voice that critics constantly referred to as ‘ravishing’. Combined with the beauty of her sound was a high order of musicianship. In addition, Miss Raskin was a beautiful woman and an excellent actress. As a complete artist, she captivated audiences whenever she appeared.
Miss Raskin sang about 20 operatic roles, ranging from Mozart through Stravinsky and Poulenc. Her Mozart was especially admired; she sang leading roles in LE NOZZE DI FIGARO, DON GIOVANNI, COSI FAN TUTTE and DIE ZAUBERFLÖTE. She was also hailed for her performance as Nanetta in Verdi's FALSTAFF at the Metropolitan Opera. Many believed her to be the most attractive Adele in Strauss' FLEDERMAUS within memory. Among her contemporary operas were Stravinsky's RAKE'S PROGRESS, Moore's BALLAD OF BABY DOE in addition to DIALOGUES DES CARMÉLITES.
Miss Raskin never tried to be merely a singer of high notes, though her range equaled that of any lyric soprano. Nor did she ever attempt to sing louder than some of the tenors with whom she worked. Instead she concentrated on purity of sound and line. ‘I've tried to make up in depth what I don't have in quantity’, she once told an interviewer. ‘There is a kind of singer who has a poetic approach to music rather than a purely vocal approach. It's a special kind of voice, which cannot be described simply as lyric or lyric coloratura. It's a special kind of sound with a certain purity, and I like to think that's what I have’.
Miss Raskin sang at the Chicago Lyric and other American opera houses and at Glyndebourne. She also appeared frequently with American orchestras, in oratorio and in recital. She made her New York recital début at the Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1964. Reviewing the concert for THE NEW YORK TIMES, Howard Klein pointed out that not many opera singers could make the transition from the grand gestures of the operatic stage to the intimacy of song. 'Miss Raskin’, Mr. Klein said, ‘brought to her program the finesse expected in this medium - fluent singing, pure tone, accurate scales, good musicianship, clear diction - and lost none of the keen ability to evoke character that has enlivened many of her operatic roles’.”
- Harold C. Schonberg, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 22 Dec., 1984
"On the occasion of Raskin's 1962 Met debut as Susanna in NOZZE, Zinka Milanov visited her backstage and informed her that she would never need to learn how to type (another example of Milanov's dark humor)!"
- J. R. Peters
“’Audacity, innovation, creativity — that is what Pierre Boulez was for French music, which he helped shine everywhere in the world’.
Mr. Boulez belonged to an extraordinary generation of European composers who emerged in the postwar years while still in their 20s. They started a revolution in music, and Mr. Boulez was in the front ranks.
But his influence was equally large on the podium. In time he began giving ever more attention to conducting, where his keen ear and rhythmic incisiveness could produce a startling clarity. (There are countless stories of him detecting faulty intonation, say, from the third oboe in a complex piece.) He reached his peak as a conductor in the 1960s, when he began to appear with some of the world’s great orchestras, like the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, the Berlin Philharmonic and the Cleveland Orchestra. By the early ’70s, he had succeeded Leonard Bernstein as music director of the New York Philharmonic, an appointment that startled the music world and led to a fitful tenure. It was his reputation as an avant-garde composer and as a champion of new music that prompted his unexpected appointment in New York. After the initial shock at his arrival, there was hope that he might bring the orchestra into the 20th century and appeal to younger audiences. But his programming often met with hostility in New York, and he left quietly six years later. ‘I had to learn about that music, to find out how it was made’, he once told OPERA NEWS. ‘It was a revelation - a music for our time, a language with unlimited possibilities. No other language was possible. It was the most radical revolution since Monteverdi. Suddenly, all our familiar notions were abolished. Music moved out of the world of Newton and into the world of Einstein’. To start on this route, he took lessons in 1945-46 with René Leibowitz, a Schönbergian who had settled in Paris. Soon he was integrating what had been separate paths of development in the music of the previous 40 years: Schönberg’s serialism, Stravinsky’s rhythmic innovations and Messiaen’s enlarged notion of mode. As Mr. Boulez saw it, all these composers had failed to pursue their most radical impulses, and it fell to a new generation - specifically, to him - to pick up the torch.
‘He never ceased to think about subjects in relation to one another; he made painting, poetry, architecture, cinema and music communicate with each other, always in the service of a more humane society’, the office of President François Hollande said in a statement. Even so, the achievements embodied in his published works and recordings are formidable, and his influence was incalculable. The tasks he took on were heroic: to continue the great adventure of musical modernism, and to carry with him the great musical institutions and the widest possible audience.”
- Paul Griffiths, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 6 Jan., 2016