V2657. JEAN PLANEL, w.Godfroy Andolfi, Gustave Charpentier, François Ruhlmann & Georges Briez Cond.; w.Godfroy Andolfi (Pf.): Songs by Hahn, Busser, Franck, Gregh, Yerr, Schubert, Mozart, Charpentier & Plasse; Arias from Manon, Lalla-Roukh, La Fille du Régiment, Lakmé, Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Martha, Le Roi d’Y’s, La Jolie Fille de Perth, Jocelyn, Les Cloches de Corneville & Les Dragons de Villars. (England) The Record Collector TRC 51, recorded early 1930s. Transfers by Norman White.
“Jean Planel (1903–1986) was a French lyric tenor who made some beautiful recordings but who seems to have largely disappeared from memory. This lovely collection of arias and songs on THE RECORD COLLECTOR label (available from Norbeck, Peters & Ford, norpete.com) will be a wonderful discovery for many lovers of the vocal art. I suspect the reason that Planel is little known today is that he concentrated on concert work, French art songs, and Lieder while performing rarely in opera. I had not encountered his singing until this disc arrived, and I was struck by the beauty and artistry on display. Planel was a tenor légère with a voice of unusual sweetness. He has a tight, rapid vibrato, which he uses for expressive purposes.
In the discography on The Hector Berlioz Website, there is an article entitled ‘Hector Berlioz: Early Vocal Recordings’ by Yoël Arbeitnman, who mentions the second recording of L’ENFANCE DU CHRIST conducted by François Ruhlmann in 1933. Arbeitnman describes Planel’s performance as the Narrator as ‘one of the glories of Berlioz singing on record’. Although nothing from that set is on this recital, I can fully understand the accolade. Even at forte Planel’s voice retains its sweetness, never turning hard. His phrasing, his use of dynamic shading, and the clarity of his diction, all are the qualities of a great artist. At the climax of ‘Pour me rapprocher de Marie’ from Donizetti’s LA FILLE DU RÉGIMENT Planel displays a fortissimo of real power while retaining the warmth of his basic timbre. One mark of his artistry is the wide range of dynamics he employs in his soft singing. There is not only mezzo-piano, piano, and pianissimo but infinite shadings of soft dynamics. The decrescendo at the conclusion of the aria from LE ROI D’YS is breathtakingly beautiful.
Planel maintained friendships with important composers of his day like Gustave Charpentier, Darius Milhaud, Francis Poulenc, and Germaine Tailleferre, and he consulted with them about their songs. The two songs by Charpentier on this disc are conducted by the composer. The two songs by Hahn are accompanied by piano, everything else by orchestra. All of these recordings were made in the 1930s, and the transfers are excellent. A well-written biographical sketch is included, as well as the relevant discographic information, including dates and accompaniments. This is singing of refinement and great beauty, and a collection that anyone who loves vocal music should snap up.”
- Henry Fogel, FANFARE