C1663. ERICH LEINSDORF Cond. Boston Symphony Orch., w.Helen Boatwright, Charles Bressler & Thomas Paul: DIE JAHRESZEITEN (Haydn) [A magisterial performance featuring fabulous, outstanding soloists . . . displaying the refreshing acoustics of Symphony Hall!] (Canada) 2-St Laurent Studio YSL T-690, Live Performance, 5 Jan., 1965, Symphony Hall, Boston. Transfers by Yves St Laurent.
“Helen Boatwright, an American soprano renowned for her interpretations of Charles Ives, was a concert and oratorio singer who performed in public until she was in her 90s, Mrs. Boatwright was known for her pure, unfussy sound; impeccable diction; and thoughtful, sensitive interpretations. These attributes made her well suited for early music and contemporary works, and throughout her career she sang both, to favorable notices.
Mrs. Boatwright gave the world premiere performances of some of Ives’ songs and, with the pianist John Kirkpatrick, made the first extensive recording of his songs. At the other end of the historical continuum, Mrs. Boatwright appeared as a soloist with many of the country’s best-known early-music groups, including the Yale Collegium Musicum, founded by the eminent composer Paul Hindemith, and the Cantata Singers in New York. Among the conductors with whom she performed are Leopold Stokowski, Erich Leinsdorf, Seiji Ozawa and Zubin Mehta.
Mrs. Boatwright’s work took her to many of the country’s best-known concert halls as well as to the White House, where she sang for President John F. Kennedy in 1963. She also taught at Syracuse University, the Eastman School of Music, the Peabody Conservatory of Music and elsewhere.
She earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music from the Oberlin College Conservatory. In 1942, while she was a graduate student, she sang at Tanglewood in a production of Otto Nicolai’s opera THE MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR, opposite a young tenor named Mario Lanza in his operatic debut. In 1943, she married Howard Leake Boatwright Jr., a violinist and composer. In the decades that followed, the couple performed together in many recitals, and Mrs. Boatwright often sang songs by her husband, written for her. Mrs. Boatwright, who also appeared frequently in joint recitals with other singers, did not make her New York solo recital debut until 1967, when she performed Hindemith’s song cycle DAS MARIENLEBEN at Town Hall. Reviewing the concert in THE NEW YORK TIMES, Raymond Ericson wrote that Mrs. Boatwright ‘sang the cycle as she has other music, with a total submersion of her own personality in the work….She has a voice of rare purity, and she sings phrases with comparable clarity and firm outline’.
If the concert singing Mrs. Boatwright favored has less marquee value than opera, which she performed on occasion, then that, she made unequivocally clear, was fine with her. ‘I sing opera, but I am a musician…is such a teeny tiny part in the world of music. I don’t want to be called an opera singer.”
- Margalit Fox, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 4 Dec., 2010
“Charles F. Bressler, a tenor who appeared in numerous recital, oratorio and opera performances in New York City and around the world, was a favorite soloist with many local choruses, including the New York Pro Musica Antiqua, the Cantata Singers, the Collegiate Chorale and Musica Sacra. In a 1986 review of Musica Sacra's performance of Bach's ST. JOHN PASSION, Bernard Holland wrote in THE NEW YORK TIMES, ‘Charles Bressler's Evangelist was splendid, expressive musically and leaping fearlessly into Bach's intricate shifts in key’.
He sang with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic and performed for the openings of both the Kennedy Center in Washington and Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. He also sang with the Chicago Symphony, the Atlanta Symphony and the Orchestre de Paris, as well as the Santa Fe and San Francisco operas.
Mr. Bressler taught at the North Carolina School of the Arts, Brooklyn College, the Mannes College of Music and the Manhattan School of Music, and recorded for several labels.”
- THE NEW YORK TIMES, 4 Dec., 1996
“The American bass, Thomas Paul, studied at the Juilliard School of Music New York with Hans Heinz, and for orchestra conducting. He studied singing with Beverly Johnson, Gibner Kind and Cornelius Reid, New York.
Thomas Paul's stage debut was in 1962 at the New York City Centre Opera as Sparafucile in RIGOLETTO. His career took place particularly in the USA and in Canada. There he sang in Baltimore, Cincinnati, Houston/Texas, in New Orleans, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and St. Paul, in Boston, San Francisco, Washington, Vancouver and Montréal, but mostly at the New York City Centre Opera New York. In 1964 he worked also with the Central City Festival in the premiere of the opera LADY FROM COLORADO by Ward, which was also performed at the Aspen Festival. In the years 1962-1977, he performed many times at the Carmel Bach Festival under Sandor Salgo.
From Thomas Paul's stage repertoire should be mentioned: Figaro in LE NOZZE DI FIGARO, Sarastro in ZAUBERFLÖTE, Pogner in MEISTERSINGER, the title role in Béla Bartók's BLUE-BEARD’S CASTLE, Mephisto in Gounod’s FAUST, the Father in Charpentier’s LOUISE, Padre Guardiano in LA FORZA DEL DESTINO, Rocco in FIDELIO, Tiresias in Stravinsky’s OEDIPUS REX, Raimondo in LUCIA DI LAMMERMOOR, Ptolemaeus in Handel’s GIULIO CEDSARE and Don Marco in Menotti’s THE SAINT OF BLEECKER STREET. In the concert halls he also performed a comprehensive repertoire.”
- Bach Cantatas Website
"Erich Leinsdorf, a conductor whose abrasive intelligence and deep musical learning served as a conscience for two generations of conductors, had a utilitarian stage manner and his disdain of dramatic effects for their own sake stood out as a not-so-silent rebuke to his colleagues in this most glamorous of all musical jobs. In addition, Mr. Leinsdorf - in rehearsal, in the press and in his valuable book on conducting, THE COMPOSER'S ADVOCATE - never tired of pointing out gaps in culture among musicians, faulty editing among music publishers and errors in judgment or acts of ignorance among his fellow conductors. He rarely named his victims, but his messages and their targets were often clear. Moreover, he usually had the solid grasp of facts to support his contentions.
Mr. Leinsdorf moved to this country from Vienna in 1937. Helped by the recommendation of Arturo Toscanini, whom he had been assisting at the Salzburg Festival, Mr. Leinsdorf made his conducting debut at the Metropolitan Opera a year later with DIE WALKURE. He was 25 years old at the time . A year later he was made overseer of the Met's German repertory, and his contentious style - in particular an insistence on textual accuracy and more rehearsal - won him no friends among singers like Lauritz Melchior and Kirsten Flagstad. Backed by management, he remained at the Met until 1943. At the New York City Opera, where he became music director in 1956, Mr. Leinsdorf's demanding policies in matters of repertory and preparation made him further enemies, and he left a year later. His searches for permanent employment turned mostly to orchestras. After the briefest of tenures at the Cleveland Orchestra during World War II, Mr. Leinsdorf took over the Rochester Philharmonic and stayed for nine years.
Mr. Leinsdorf's last and most prestigious music directorship was at the Boston Symphony, where he replaced Charles Munch in 1962. No contrast in style could have been sharper: Munch had viewed conducting mystically, as a kind of priesthood; Mr. Leinsdorf's policy was to make performances work in the clearest and most rational way. Observers both in and out of the orchestra could not deny the benefits of Mr. Leinsdorf's discipline, but there were some who were hostile to what they perceived as an objectivity that could hardly be called heartwarming.
One American orchestra manager a few years ago responded to musicians' grumblings over Mr. Leinsdorf's rehearsal manner by saying that he was 'good for my orchestra'. And so he probably was."
- Bernard Holland, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 12 Sept., 1993