Marian Anderson - Softly Awakes My Heart    (ASV ASL 5262)
Item# V2672
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Product Description

Marian Anderson - Softly Awakes My Heart    (ASV ASL 5262)
V2672. MARIAN ANDERSON: Softly Awakes My Heart, incl. Spirituals; Songs by Martini, Schubert, Schumann, Brahms, Sibelius, Rachmaninoff & Stephen Foster; Arias from MESSIAH, MATTAEUS-PASSION, DON CARLOS & SAMSON ET DALILA. (England) ASV ASL 5262, recorded 1928-41. Transfers by Martin Haskell. Long out-of-print, Final Copy! - 743625526226

CRITIC REVIEWS:

"The great American contralto scarcely needs an introduction. Her rich, vibrant voice, unique in its colors and timbre, was coupled with excellent musicianship, a seriousness of purpose, and depths of emotional involvement."

- Charles H. Parsons, AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE, Sept./Oct., 2007





“It is difficult now to separate the voice and the woman from the almost marbleized monument that Anderson became long before she died in 1993….America’s traveling good will ambassador, a special United Nations delegate, the subject of numerous television documentaries, and a beloved icon.”

- Peter G. Davis, THE AMERICAN OPERA SINGER, p.340



“Considered by many the greatest American contralto who ever lived, Marian Anderson succeeded despite racial prejudice and economic hardship.This collection contains recordings and broadcast material culled from the archives and lovingly restored by Peter Dempsey, the brainchild behind the new Naxos Nostalgia series. It spans twenty years and many genres, including operatic arias, lieder, spirituals, Italian songs, oratorio and folksongs ! These selections give a taste of Anderson’s extraordinary voice, a voice that is truly a force of nature.

The title, ‘Softly Awakes My Heart’ is taken from the English translation of the title to ‘Mon Coeur s’ouvre à ta Voix’ from SAMSON ET DELILAH. Ironically, the operatic selections are perhaps the least successful, for reasons that are not vocal but interpretive. Anderson never had the opportunity to sing on the operatic stage in her prime. Her debut as Ulrica in UN BALLO IN MASCHERA at the Metropolitan occurred in 1955, near the end of her career, which found Anderson regrettably (and understandably) below her best. Her operatic legacy is thus limited to arias sung as ‘set pieces’ in concerts and radio broadcasts, and as a result, these lack the dramatic intensity that comes with stage experience. This is especially evident in her ‘O don fatal’ from DON CARLO - beautifully sung as in an oratorio. Similarly, the two Delilah arias are unidiomatic and not helped by the English translation. Unexpectedly, the best is ‘Pleurez mes yeux’ from Massenet’s LE CID, affectingly sung, with her dark timbre adding to the dramatic impact.

The German lieder are represented by ‘Aufenthalt’ and ‘Der Tod und das Mädchen’ by Schubert. Anderson’s low notes are really incredible here. Likely no singer before or after has the visceral impact of her low register. The Negro Spirituals here Anderson in her glory; it is here that her artistry is in full flight. Her singing has a heartfelt simplicity and emotional truth that bring tears to the eyes - just listen to ‘Trampin’ and ‘My soul’s been anchored in the Lord’. Incidentally, the early Anderson voice also had a fabulous top, and you can hear it in the spectacular high note at the end of ‘My Soul’. Naxos and Peter Demsey are to be congratulated for this excellent series, and at bargain prices it ranks as a ‘must buy’ for anyone interested in artists of a bygone era.”

- Joseph So, La Scena Musicale