Regine Crespin;  Karl Kritz, Thomas Schippers,  John Wustman      (2-Immortal Performances IPCD 1085)
Item# V2547
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Regine Crespin;  Karl Kritz, Thomas Schippers,  John Wustman      (2-Immortal Performances IPCD 1085)
V2547. REGINE CRESPIN: Rare Broadcast Recordings, w.John Wustman (Pf.): Songs by Schumann, Wolf, Poulenc & Canteloube - Live Recital, Strasbourg, 1966; w.Schippers Cond. NYPO: SHEHERAZADE (Ravel); Ah, Perfido (Beethoven) - Live Performance, Philharmonic Hall, 7 Feb., 1966, w.broadcast commentary by Milton Cross; w.Karl Kritz Cond. Syracuse S.O.: LES NUITS D'ETE (Berlioz) - Live Performance, 19 Oct., 1968; w.Inghelbrecht, Sebastian & Gavazzeni: Operatic Arias & Duets. (Canada) 2-Immortal Performances IPCD 1085. Restoration by Richard Caniell. Includes 14pp Booklet w.notes by Henry Fogel & Richard Caniell. [Crespin's radiant performance of LES NUITS D'ETE under the sensitive baton of Karl Kritz, brilliantly recorded in a spacious acoustic, alone is worth the price of the entire set!] - 019962793417


"My excitement upon discovering the heretofore unavailable two-CD set, REGINE CRESPIN: RARE BROADCAST RECORDINGS, in the catalog of historical performance specialist Norbeck Peters & Ford [] can only be partially conveyed through words. Crespin's London/Decca studio recordings of Berlioz's LES NUITS D'ETE and Ravel's SHEHERAZADE, accompanied by Ernest Ansermet et L'Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, which were captured in Victoria Hall, Geneva in September 1963, have long been coveted by audiophiles for both their sound quality and Crespin's incomparable artistry. The opportunity to hear the same two French song cycles, delivered with the extra frisson and interpretive touches that great singers share in live performance, in a collection that also includes other live and rarely encountered studio performances by Crespin, is not to be missed.

LES NUITS D'ETE was captured by Henry Fogel on October 19, 1968, when he was charged with recording the soprano's performance with the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra, which was conducted by Karl Kritz. Clearly Fogel's miking was ideal, because we can hear much of the same air and space that distinguish the Swiss recording of five years earlier.

Both SHEHERAZADE and an extremely energetic performance of Beethoven's taxing 'Ah! Perfido' stem from a 1965 New York Philharmonic performance conducted by Thomas Schippers. For both, you also get introductions and commentary from Milton Cross, who for decades was known as the 'voice of the Metropolitan Opera Texaco radio broadcasts'. The Ravel is especially magical thanks to Crespin's feather-light soft singing, which was all the more miraculous considering that she possessed a Wagnerian sized voice that could soar above a huge orchestra. Put them together with everything else on the disc, and you've got a pretty complete portrait of a treasured artist in her prime."

- Jason Victor Serinus, STEREOPHILE, 8 April, 2018

"Invaluable supplements to studio recordings meet rarities in this radiant set dedicated to the work of the great Regine Crespin.

Now here is a treasure-trove of recordings that adds to our knowledge of her, complete with introductions in French. The Strasbourg Schumann LIEDERKREIS is a gem of a performance. Her eloquence is notable, but also her fragile vocal demeanor in 'Intermezzo', the second song, is tender in the extreme. Her pianist, John Wustman, is clearly an excellent player but not quite in Crespin's league. Together, though, they trace the peaks and troughs of 'Waldesgesprach', and there is a nice rhythmic spring to 'Im Walde'. But perhaps it is the way Crespin spins a melodic line in 'Mondnacht' that is most memorable of all.

Although there are justly famous versions of the Ravel and the Berlioz song cycles with Ansermet for Decca, these live performances demand auditioning too. There is an added spontaneity to Crespin's delivery in the Ravel, with a splendidly musical solo violin in the first song, 'Asie'. Here, too Schippers finds great depth of string sound, superbly caught in Immortal Performances's transfer. The heady heights the orchestra reaches in 'La flute enchantée' signify a connection with the music that is entirely on a par with Crespin's, while this movement is decidedly more fluid than in the studio.

If the orchestral opening to 'Ah, Perfido' is rather workaday, there is nothing routine about the way Crespin flings out her initial statements. It becomes a great piece of music, leading one to wonder why it appears to have disappeared from the concert platform these days. It becomes more than a showpiece; the piece's stature seems to rise with each successive phrase.

The Berlioz LES NUITS D'ETE here is free and pliable. It is swifter than the recording with Ansermet (by some three minutes) and seems to breathe an easy inevitability, perhaps best heard in the fragrant 'Le spectre de la rose'. The recording is fabulous here, in fact, and the detail on headphones is astonishingly vivid. For 'Sur les lagunes' it is as if the sorrow of the Prelude to act III of Wagner's TRISTAN had migrated across, adjusting its harmonic vocabulary to suit the territory in the process. Crespin's lower register is impressively strong. The serene pace of 'Absence' allows time for the harmonic shifts to be fully relished. The accompaniment here is particularly alert under Kritz: repeated string chords of various descriptions, but magically rendered.

Henry Fogel's booklet notes are invaluable, especially as he was involved with the recording of the Berlioz here. All lovers of vocal music should gravitate to this set like moths to a flame."

- Colin Clarke, FANFARE, Sept. /Oct., 2017