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Thread: Vocal recitals.

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    Senior Member Barbebleu's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tsaraslondon View Post




    When this recital first appeared in 1975, Scotto had been absent from the catalogues for some time. She was principally known on record for her Butterfly under Barbirolli (recorded for EMI in 1966) and for Mimi, Violetta, Gilda and Lucia (all recorded in the early 1960s for DG).

    Butterfly was her calling card for many years, and the recording has remained one of the most recommendable (though, save for Liu in the Molinari-Pradelli Turandot, recorded in 1961, she appears not to have made any further complete opera recordings for EMI until she recorded Abigaille under Muti in 1977).

    She first made her mark deputising as Amina in Edinburgh for Callas, who, in poor vocal health at the time, had refused to sing an extra uncontracted performance that La Scala had tried to thurst upon her. That was in 1957 and it would appear that, though she had considerable success on stage, recording companies were not so quick on the uptake. She herself has admitted that she could be a bit prima donna-ish in a "my way or no way" sort of manner, until she met her husband, Lorenzo Anselmi, who, according to Scotto, helped her to become more professional, and think more about the music.

    She was at first known as a coloratura, but even in the early 1960s, John Steane notes that her high notes did not seem to come easily and could have a hard and pinched quality. She also had a great success as Butterfly, the role in which she had made her Met debut, but it soon became clear that this was the only repertoire Bing would call on her for. He refused to offer her anything else so she was absent from their schedules for a long time, returning in 1974 to sing Elena in I Vespri Siciliani, under Levine who became her champion. For many years, she was the Met's house soprano, singing a completely new repertoire, which included Verdi roles like Leonora in Il Trovatore, Desdemona, Luisa Miller and Lady Macbeth.

    This Verdi recital also marked the beginning of a new, fairly intensive recording schedule for her. In the ten years since her recording of Madama Butterfly the hardness on top has become more noticeable, and many of the louder notes above the stave are quite strident. There are however compensations in her musicality, her dramatic awareness, her deep legato and the firmness of the line. Then there is the added attraction of her attention to detail and her intelligent use of the words, though occasionally there is a lack of spontaneity. Art does not always conceal art.

    There is a good mixture here of the familiar and the not so well known. In the former camp would be Lida's aria and cabaletta from La Battaglia di Legnano, a fairly conventional piece whose cabaletta is nonetheless energetically exciting, and which Scotto attacks head on. There is a slight suspicion that the voice is a little small for the other early works here (Nabucco and I Lombardi), but she has an innate feeling for Verdian style and the cavatinas of both are beautifully moulded, the cabalettas propulsive and exciting. The voice takes on a lovely melancholy tinta for Elena's Arrigo, ah parli a un core, which lies mostly in the middle register, though she eschews the written low F# in the cadenza, taking a higher alternative, and sings a bright and breezy Merce, dilette amiche. Best of all, probably because neither takes he much above the stave, are Violetta's Addio, del passato, the reading of the letter absolutely heart-wrenching, and Desdemona's Willow Song and Ave Maria, which is alive to every dramatic contrast, her singing full of anxious foreboding. Soon after this she would make a most touching Desdemona both on stage at the Met and on record in Domingo's first recording.

    Some may prefer a richer voice for this music, but few who are more vocally endowed sing with such specificity, such attention to the meaning of the text, such musicality and appreciation of Verdian style. Where other sopranos, like Souliotis and Sass, can be accused of being copycat Callases, Scotto can be said to have absorbed the lessons of Callas without losing her own individuality. This is a very good recital.
    Your name change threw me for a bit. I thought I was replying to the wrong posts.
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    Senior Member Tsaraslondon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Barbebleu View Post
    Your name change threw me for a bit. I thought I was replying to the wrong posts.
    It's good to keep people guessing sometimes

    The name change ties in with my blog www.tsaraslondon.wordpress.com as well.
    "It's not enough to have a beautiful voice." Maria Callas

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tsaraslondon View Post
    We don't seem to have anywhere on the site to discuss vocal recitals, so I thought I'd start one.

    I'm returning to this box set at the moment.

    I've now listened to the other four discs on this set and I have to say that it is excellent. A lot of the rep here is not my favourite (I'm not hugely keen on Baroque and early opera or French song), however the recordings chosen are almost all of Baker at her best. The second disc in the set is astounding, this isn't just some of the best Handel singing on disc, but some of the best singing full stop! Feisty, dramatic, doleful or subdued there is an intensity here that you would normally associate with 19th century rep, whilst I hasten to add that this is done with total respect for and in line with Handel's style.

    Disc three moves on to the classical era and the bonus for me is having three Mozart arias from complete operas recorded by Baker. Since I'm not really a fan of La clemenza di Tito and I already have enough Cosi fan tuttes I shan't be acquiring the complete recordings, but it's well worth having part of Baker's contribution to those sets. Her Haydn and Beethoven is as intelligently communicated as all her interpretations.

    Disc four starts with Rameau who does nothing for me and then moves on to Gluck. These are the least successful recordings in this set and whilst there is nothing wrong with them, they just aren't quite as good as Baker in Handel, Berlioz or Britten. That's why things pick up next as we move onto Berlioz, which fitted Baker like a glove. This is quite simply perfection.

    Disc five has French song, which despite my lack of fondness for, Baker is one of the two singers that can make this sub-genre pleasurable for me (the other is De los Angeles). The set finishes with Britten and Phaedra which he specially composed for her.

    This is a wonderful box set and contains Baker's best recordings on the Universal labels (Decca and Phillips). They could have included a sixth disc and added more from the Gluck recital as well as more Mozart, however, those are available on stand alone discs which the avid fan will want in addition to this set.

    Five Stars, no vocal classical music collection should be without this.

    N.
    Last edited by The Conte; May-18-2019 at 10:42.

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    Quote Originally Posted by The Conte View Post
    I've now listened to the other four discs on this set and I have to say that it is excellent. A lot of the rep here is not my favourite (I'm not hugely keen on Baroque and early opera or French song), however the recordings chosen are almost all of Baker at her best. The second disc in the set is astounding, this isn't just some of the best Handel singing on disc, but some of the best singing full stop! Feisty, dramatic, doleful or subdued there is an intensity here that you would normally associate with 19th century rep, whilst I hasten to add that this is done with total respect for and in line with Handel's style.

    Disc three moves on to the classical era and the bonus for me is having three Mozart arias from complete operas recorded by Baker. Since I'm not really a fan of La clemenza di Tito and I already have enough Cosi fan tuttes I shan't be acquiring the complete recordings, but it's well worth having part of Baker's contribution to those sets. Her Haydn and Beethoven is as intelligently communicated as all her interpretations.

    Disc four starts with Rameau who does nothing for me and then moves on to Gluck. These are the least successful recordings in this set and whilst there is nothing wrong with them, they just aren't quite as good as Baker in Handel, Berlioz or Britten. That's why things pick up next as we move onto Berlioz, which fitted Baker like a glove. This is quite simply perfection.

    Disc five has French song, which despite my lack of fondness for, Baker is one of the two singers that can make this sub-genre pleasurable for me (the other is De los Angeles). The set finishes with Britten and Phaedra which he specially composed for her.

    This is a wonderful box set and contains Baker's best recordings on the Universal labels (Decca and Phillips). They could have included a sixth disc and added more from the Gluck recital as well as more Mozart, however, those are available on stand alone discs which the avid fan will want in addition to this set.

    Five Stars, no vocal classical music collection should be without this.

    N.
    Indeed.

    Of course to supplement this you also really need Warner's 10 disc collection, which ranges even wider; Monteverdi and the Scarlattis, more Handel and Bach, more Berlioz (Les Nuits d'Eté and a superb performance of Marguerite's D'amour l'ardente flamme, which is up there with Callas), her incomparable Mahler cycles with Barbirolli and the Wesendonk Lieder under Boult, Lieder by Brahms, Mendelssohn, Schubert, Schumann and Liszt, Elgar and English Song, and more French song both with orchestra and piano, finishing with a group of Victorian sentimental favourites.



    I'd also want this Pentatone release, which includes some of the material omitted from the Philips set



    Sesto's arias from La Clemenza di Tito are just amazing, the best I've ever heard.

    I honestly believe Baker was one of the greatest musicians of the twentieth century.
    Last edited by Tsaraslondon; May-18-2019 at 16:33.
    "It's not enough to have a beautiful voice." Maria Callas

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  7. #65
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tsaraslondon View Post
    Indeed.

    Of course to supplement this you also really need Warner's 10 disc collection, which ranges even wider; Monteverdi and the Scarlattis, more Handel and Bach, more Berlioz (Les Nuits d'Eté and a superb performance of Marguerite's D'amour l'ardente flamme, which is up there with Callas), her incomparable Mahler cycles with Barbirolli and the Wesendonk Lieder under Boult, Lieder by Brahms, Mendelssohn, Schubert, Schumann and Liszt, Elgar and English Song, and more French song both with orchestra and piano, finishing with a group of Victorian sentimental favourites.

    10 discs or 20? There is also the smaller Icon set with five or six discs which has some of those EMI recordings. However, I'm not as keen on Baker in Lieder (Mahler in particular) and I am happy to go without those recordings. I also can live without the baroque and early arias as it's rep that doesn't do much for me (although Baker makes it more palatable). Therefore I am happy to have the EMI recordings that I do like on the separate releases (Dream of Gerontius and Music Makers and the one disc of Berlioz that includes the Troyens arias). There are very few singers that I feel I need all of their recordings, I don't even have every live Norma or Tosca that exists with Callas in.

    N.

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    Quote Originally Posted by The Conte View Post
    10 discs or 20? There is also the smaller Icon set with five or six discs which has some of those EMI recordings. However, I'm not as keen on Baker in Lieder (Mahler in particular) and I am happy to go without those recordings. I also can live without the baroque and early arias as it's rep that doesn't do much for me (although Baker makes it more palatable). Therefore I am happy to have the EMI recordings that I do like on the separate releases (Dream of Gerontius and Music Makers and the one disc of Berlioz that includes the Troyens arias). There are very few singers that I feel I need all of their recordings, I don't even have every live Norma or Tosca that exists with Callas in.

    N.
    Oops, yes 20.

    She's my favourite Mahler singer by far. The first time I heard her live was in Das Lied von der Erde at the Royal Festival Hall under Kempe, a performance that has since been issued on disc, though my favourite would be the Kubelik from Munich, which is the most emotionally shattering performance of the work I've ever heard.

    I also love all the orchestral Mahler recordings she made with Barbirolli. Nobody sings Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen with quite such hushed concentration. It's almost as if she is communing with nature. I heard her sing the Rückert Lieder at the Royal Festival Hall too and the way she made the quietest of pianissimos float to the furthest recesses of the hall remains for ever in my memory. You could have heard a pin drop as she drew the audience in.

    I suppose I also feel I don't really need all the recordings of any singer, but I have almost all the recordings made by Callas, Baker and Schwarzkopf. With Callas I have a mixture of live and studio performances, mostly because she was so amazing live and because the EMI catalogue doesn't really represent her main repertoire, but with Baker and Schwarzkopf I'm quite happy with their studio output.
    "It's not enough to have a beautiful voice." Maria Callas

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    I have almost all of Callas and Schwarzkopf too and there are a few other singers where I have nearly everything (De los Angeles, Magda Olivero, Angela Gheorghiu, Cheryl Studer, Gallina Gorchakova, Kathleen Ferrier, Giulietta Simionato, Waltruad Meier, Christa Ludwig and Tito Gobbi). I have a lot of Corelli, Florez and Calleja and a whole host of other singers too of course.

    My favourite Mahler singers are all Mezzos who I think have an edge over Baker due to being temperamentally suited to the romantic repertoire, Ferrier is incomparable, but Ludwig and Meier are hard to beat in his songs too.

    N.

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    Senior Member Tsaraslondon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Conte View Post

    My favourite Mahler singers are all Mezzos who I think have an edge over Baker due to being temperamentally suited to the romantic repertoire, Ferrier is incomparable, but Ludwig and Meier are hard to beat in his songs too.

    N.
    Mine too, and of course Baker is a mezzo. I'm never sure what you mean about other singers being more tempermentally suited to the romantic repertoire. Baker and Mahler seems a perfect fit to me, and I find her emotional intensity overwhelming in a way that is not quite matched by the other singers you mention, all estimable singers though they are.
    Last edited by Tsaraslondon; May-19-2019 at 00:30.
    "It's not enough to have a beautiful voice." Maria Callas

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tsaraslondon View Post
    Mine too, and of course Baker is a mezzo. I'm never sure what you mean about other singers being more tempermentally suited to the romantic repertoire. Baker and Mahler seems a perfect fit to me, and I find her emotional intensity overwhelming in a way that is not quite matched by the other singers you mention, all estimable singers though they are.
    I'd just add that Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen is the track I would play to any disbelievers, who said they weren't impressed by Baker. Without exception it has always effected a conversion.
    "It's not enough to have a beautiful voice." Maria Callas

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    Senior Member Tsaraslondon's Avatar
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    This well-filled four disc set was issued to time in with De Los Angeles’s seventieth birthday in 1993, when, incredibly, she was still active on the concert platform, having made her stage debut in 1941. I don’t know when she officially retired, but she died just over ten years later. The set dates from the good old days, when notes texts and translations were included. Not all of this material is that familiar, so they are absolutely essential. Nowadays you are lucky to even get a web link to them.

    The set concentrates on the recital side of De Los Angeles’s career and all the recordings date from the 1960s and early 1970s, with two discs of song with orchestra and two with piano or, as in the case of Falla’s Psyché chamber ensemble.

    Disc 1 covers French song with orchestra (though not her wonderful recording of Les Nuits d’Eté, which was recorded for RCA). We start with one of the most recommendable of all versions of Ravel’s Shéhérazade, in which she is a vivid narrator, taking an almost childlike pleasure in the sights she describes. In the Cinq Mélodies populaires grecques she is the epitome of a young village girl, whilst the Deux Mélodies hébraïques bring out a more seductive quality in her voice. Chausson’s Poème de l’amour et de la mer exposes the occasional fragility in the voice, but is still a beautiful performance.

    Disc 2, which concentrates on Spanish song with orchestra, would probably be my favourite of the four. It almost exactly reproduces a disc called The Maiden and the Nightingale, released in EMI’s Great Recordings of the Century, though it omits that Granados title track. Favrouites here are the Montsalvatge Cinco canciones negras; wonderfully soothing in the Cancio de cuna para dormir a un negrito and irresistibly playful in the Yambambos of the Canto Negro. I also love Mompou’s El combat del Somni, especially the soulful Damunt de tu nomes los flors. Another joyful performance is Rodrigo’s De los alamos vengo, madre. We are reminded that De Los Angeles probably did more than any other singer to put Spanish song on the map.

    Disc 3 brings us more French and Spanish repertoire, this time with piano accompaniment, or chamber ensemble as in Falla’s Psyché. Though her French isn’t entirely idiomatic, she is an ideal interpreter of Debussy, Ravel, Fauré and Hahn. The performance here of Falla’s Sietes canciones populares españolas, with Gonzalo Soriano at the piano, is not generally considered her best, and it is true she is not as fierily earthy as Conchita Supervia, but equally valid in its more playful style.

    Disc 4 is more mixed, and presumably covers material likely to turn up in her recitals as openers or encores. I have always treasured her performances of Fauré’s Chanson d’amour, which is sung with a delightful smile in the voice, and her ideal performance of Clair de lune, which captures to perfection its ancien style, but includes a wonderful change of colour when the accompaniment switches to a more fluid figure at Au calme clair de lune. All the piano accompaniment on this disc is provided by Gerald Moore and it also includes a group of duets (from Purcell to Tchaikovsky) with Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, finishing off with a couple of extracts from Moore’s farewell concert at the Royal Festival Hall, with Schwarzkopf joining the pair for Mozart’s La Partenza.

    To get a fuller picture of this lovely artist, one would ideally want some representation of her operatic career, but this one captures well many elements of the recital side of her career. As in all such compilations, I might cavil at some of the choices, but the programme over the fours discs is varied and enjoyable, and De Los Angeles always brings her inimitable individual stamp to all she sings.
    "It's not enough to have a beautiful voice." Maria Callas

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tsaraslondon View Post
    I'd just add that Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen is the track I would play to any disbelievers, who said they weren't impressed by Baker. Without exception it has always effected a conversion.
    Now you've got me, I'm going to have to listen to that track in direct comparison with the other Mezzos. On reflection it's not so much that I don't find Baker suits romantic repertoire, but German repertoire and not due to reasons of language (her German is wonderful). The difference between the Mezzos I prefer and Baker is that I feel she is narrating the events of those songs. In her Kindertotenlieder she tells us about a grieving mother, with great artistry and attention to detail, but it is a narration rather than a personification of the grieving mother. The others, especially Ferrier, become the grieving mother of the songs and that is why I would rank them above Baker in them. The interesting thing is that I find quite the opposite is true in French repertoire where Baker lives and breathes the experiences of Dido or the emotions found in the chansons.

    N.

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    Quote Originally Posted by The Conte View Post
    Now you've got me, I'm going to have to listen to that track in direct comparison with the other Mezzos. On reflection it's not so much that I don't find Baker suits romantic repertoire, but German repertoire and not due to reasons of language (her German is wonderful). The difference between the Mezzos I prefer and Baker is that I feel she is narrating the events of those songs. In her Kindertotenlieder she tells us about a grieving mother, with great artistry and attention to detail, but it is a narration rather than a personification of the grieving mother. The others, especially Ferrier, become the grieving mother of the songs and that is why I would rank them above Baker in them. The interesting thing is that I find quite the opposite is true in French repertoire where Baker lives and breathes the experiences of Dido or the emotions found in the chansons.

    N.
    Oddly what I hear is complete emotional involvement with the songs and their texts, particuarly noticeable in Ich bin der Welt and the Abschied in the Kubelik DLVDE, which is absolutely shattering. I find her responses so much more specific than Ludwig's, for all that she is singing in her own language. Ferrier is altogether different and can be overwhelming, if not so detailed. Whe it comes to the Rückert Lieder, I prefer Ferrier in Um Mitternacht and Baker in Ich bin der Welt, but it's a close run thing.

    It was of course Baker's recording of Ich bin der Welt, which was her husband's favourite and one of the most touching moments in the BBC documentary was when she , her husband and her carer were listening to it. Baker herself, who had said she didn't like listening to her own recordings, could not suppress a tear.
    Last edited by Tsaraslondon; May-19-2019 at 18:58.
    "It's not enough to have a beautiful voice." Maria Callas

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tsaraslondon View Post
    It was of course Baker's recording of Ich bin der Welt, which was her husband's favourite and one of the most touching moments in the BBC documentary was when she , her husband and her carer were listening to it. Baker herself, who had said she didn't like listening to her own recordings, could not suppress a tear.
    I desperately want to watch this documentary, but it seems there's no way of viewing it for us folks outside of the UK, is there? I've tried looking for a download, but alas...

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    Quote Originally Posted by betterthanfine View Post
    I desperately want to watch this documentary, but it seems there's no way of viewing it for us folks outside of the UK, is there? I've tried looking for a download, but alas...
    I don't know. It will probably be iavailable in youtube eventually. You could try using a VPN.
    "It's not enough to have a beautiful voice." Maria Callas

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    Issued to mark the one hundredth anniversary of Schwarzkopf’s birth in 2015, this fantastic 31 disc set brings together all the recital discs Schwarzkopf made in the LP age with her husband Walter Legge between the years 1952 and 1974, adding the live 1953 Wolf recital from Salzburg, with Furtwängler and the farewell to Gerlald Moore at the Royal Festival Hall in 1967, in which she shares the platform with Victoria De Los Angeles and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. It is a considerable achievement, covering operatic excerpts and a huge range of Lieder and song, both with orchestra and piano. It is not quite the full story, for their was to be one further recital to come, made for Decca in 1977 and 1979, and simply called To My Friends.

    A fuller review of this box set on my blog https://tsaraslondon.wordpress.com/2...als-1952-1974/
    Last edited by Tsaraslondon; May-30-2019 at 10:10.
    "It's not enough to have a beautiful voice." Maria Callas

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