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Which singer did you like best?

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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The reason Teyte was not in the competition was that I couldn't find a youtube clip that was visible to members in the US. Later @Shaughnessy found a link that would work for everyone and, as hers is my favourte version of all time, I'm giving her a bye into the finale. My competition, my rules. Crespin and Dreisig tied in the third round, which means we've ended up with five.

Claire Croiza (1882-1946)

Gérard Souzay (1918-2004) with Jacqueline Bonneau

Régine Crespin (1927-2007) with Janine Reiss

Elsa Dreisig (b.1991) with Jonathan Ware

Maggie Teyte (1888-1976) accompanied by Gerald Moore can be heard by clicking on this link Chanson Triste (Song of Sorrow); L'Heure Exquise (The Enchanted Hour); Psyche; Offrande (The Offering) : Maggie Teyte : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive

 

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Of my two front runners, I prefer Souzay for the clean directness of his style. Teyte is subtler, but she uses too may falling portamenti for my taste. It sounds sentimental. I also prefer Souzay's voice purely as a voice.

I found Simoneau's the most interesting intrpretation of all the performances, but others are evidently looking for other qualities.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
I keep thinking Maggie Teyte's was the first version I ever heard of this song, but, now that I come to think of it, it was probably Ian Partridge, who made a very nice LP of Fauré and Duparc songs. I think it was my singing teacher who played the Teyte version for me when I started studying the song. He had actually trained with Teyte and was a huge admirer. Anyway, I was absolutely blown away by that record and I have been a huge Maggie Teyte fan ever since, though she seems almost forgotten now, which is a shame beacuse she was a great singer with important links to the past. She studied the role of Mélisande with Debussy himself, who had chosen her to replace his first Mélisande, Mary Garden. She is also the only singer to have been accompanied on the piano in public by the composer (in a performance of his song Beau soir). She had an interesting career, originally studying with Jean de Reszke and making her debut in Monte Carlo at the age of 18. She sang in Amerca from 1911 - 1918 (though not in New York), returning to London in 1919. Her career was interrupted by two failed marriages and she ended up singing in music hall and variery (24 performances a week) until her 1936 recording of Debussy songs with the pianist Alfred Cortot attracted attention and revived her career. She gave her last performance at the Royal Festival Hall in 1956 at the age of 68.

If you know the score of this Duparc song, as I do, you will note that she scrupulously obeys every marking in Duparc's score and yet also sounds totally spontaneous and natural. The tempo she and Moore adopt is absolutely perfect too, with rubato subtly applied. She has a very individual sound too, with its pure, clear, bell-like top and its distinctive lower register.

If I were to put these in any order, it would be

1. Teyte
2. Croiza
3. Souzay
4. Dreisig
5. Crespin

In fact the Crespin version is the only one I don't really like. The tempo is far too slow, she more or less ignores the various dynamic markings and the effect is somewhat lugubrious and somnolent.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
Of my two front runners, I prefer Souzay for the clean directness of his style. Teyte is subtler, but she uses too may falling portamenti for my taste. I sounds sentimental. I also prefer Souzay's voice purely as a voice.

I found Simoneau's the most interesting intrpretation of all the performances, but others are evidently looking for other qualities.
I actually like Teyte's portamenti. As a singer who was active in Paris while Duparc was still alive and who studied with Debussy, we can probably assume that she was adopting the style of the time.

I didn't like SImoneau so much, because of the way he messed around with the tempo. I thought the rubato excessive and, in his attempt to make too many points, the natural flow of the song was impeded. I thought it a little effete, if I'm honest.
 

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I really like Teyte here. The voice seems aged (she would have been 56?) but retains beauty and there is something effecting about that slightly reedy hint to her timbre which makes this all the more moving. Not necessarily a voice which, at this stage in her career, I’d want to here in opera, but it’s a lovely instrument with a personal sound and used thoughtfully. Her French diction, as well as her styling, is superb and coupled with that elegant, aged beauty of her sound this recording is arrestingly vivid in it’s capability to transport you back to some evening of the past, and into a little French salon where a lady sits and gently sings of love and sadness. She gets my vote.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I really like Teyte here. The voice seems aged (she would have been 56?) but retains beauty and there is something effecting about that slightly reedy hint to her timbre which makes this all the more moving. Not necessarily a voice which, at this stage in her career, I’d want to here in opera, but it’s a lovely instrument with a personal sound and used thoughtfully. Her French diction, as well as her styling, is superb and coupled with that elegant, aged beauty of her sound this recording is arrestingly vivid in it’s capability to transport you back to some evening of the past, and into a little French salon where a lady sits and gently sings of love and sadness. She gets my vote.
Yes, you can hear, particularly in the opening measures I think, that this is no longer the voice of a young woman, but the top of the voice remains remarkably pure and firm, with absolutely no trace of wobble or excessive vibrato. She recorded Ravel's Shèhérazade when she was 60 and the voice still retains its absolute firmness. She must have had an excellent technique.
 

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Her French diction, as well as her styling, is superb and coupled with that elegant, aged beauty of her sound this recording is arrestingly vivid in it’s capability to transport you back to some evening of the past, and into a little French salon where a lady sits and gently sings of love and sadness.
That's exactly how Teyte impresses me, and it's why I prefer Souzay. But Teyte is excellent, no question.
 

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I actually like Teyte's portamenti. As a singer who was active in Paris while Duparc was still alive and who studied with Debussy, we can probably assume that she was adopting the style of the time.
It's my impression that French singers of that era didn't use much portamento. Certainly there was plenty of individuality in singer's styles then (as opposed to now). Teyte's little downward slides are her personal preference. I don't think it's bad or unpleasant, but for me it just smells too much of pressed violets. Like the already fragrant music of Faure in general, this song can easily support a more virile approach.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
It's my impression that French singers of that era didn't use much portamento. Certainly there was plenty of individuality in singer's styles then (as opposed to now). Teyte's little downward slides are her personal preference. I don't think it's bad or unpleasant, but for me it just smells too much of pressed violets. Like the already fragrant music of Faure in general, this song can easily support a more virile approach.
I remember, when I was learning the song with my singing teacher, I unconsciously did a portamento at some place (I can't even remember where now), and he stopped me with the words, "No portamento. No," to which I replied. "But Magge Teyte does it."

He just said, "Well, I suppose she would know."
 

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I remember, when I was learning the song with my singing teacher, I unconsciously did a portamento at some place (I can't even remember where now), and he stopped me with the words, "No portamento. No," to which I replied. "But Magge Teyte does it."

He just said, "Well, I suppose she would know."
Wonderful story! Had I studied the song, chances are I'd have done a portamento too, if only to prove I knew what it was.
 

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Is portamento a nice way of saying those swoops and scoops tthat come from the mouth of Renee Fleming too often?
Swoops and scoops are signs of faulty technique. They signify that the singer is having difficulty finding a note or keeping the resonance consistent as they ascend/descend etc. They sound like a slow or unsteady portamento. Portamenti, when properly done, are not a sign of poor technique and are used to expressively join two notes in a natural manner.
 

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Swoops and scoops are signs of faulty technique. They signify that the singer is having difficulty finding a note or keeping the resonance consistent as they ascend/descend etc. They sound like a slow or unsteady portamento. Portamenti, when properly done, are not a sign of poor technique and are used to expressively join two notes in a natural manner.
Although I completely agree that it is a faulty technique I also believe that in the case of Fleming she is attending her days in jazz (she's not good at it BTW) and using it as a technique in opera.
 

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Swoops and scoops are signs of faulty technique. They signify that the singer is having difficulty finding a note or keeping the resonance consistent as they ascend/descend etc. They sound like a slow or unsteady portamento. Portamenti, when properly done, are not a sign of poor technique and are used to expressively join two notes in a natural manner.
They can also be merely a sign of poor musicianship and bad taste. Even great singers are guilty, especially tenors. Corelli and DiStefano - especially Corelli - can drive me mad, and drive me away.
 

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Although I completely agree that it is a faulty technique I also believe that in the case of Fleming she is attending her days in jazz (she's not good at it BTW) and using it as a technique in opera.
I suspect you're right about the influence of jazz singing on Fleming. But I imagine that jazz aficionados might be as irritated by her mannerisms as we opera lovers are. Not being a jazz or pop person, I actually find some of Fleming's non-classical work interesting, though I don't go out of my way to hear it. I really liked the way she did a Joni Mitchell song.
 

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Is portamento a nice way of saying those swoops and scoops tthat come from the mouth of Renee Fleming too often?
For more absolutely intentional downward portamento of the period, see the very indispensible Maggie Teyte recording (1941) of Hahn's "Si mes vers avaient des ailes" -


as well as a rough cut film of Ninon Vallin doing it (~ 1936, it says) after two takes of Gounod's "Sérénade" -- the Hahn starts at 5:45 -


and here's the text - click "Eng" for translation -


(I had Google Translate still on when I did my YouTube search, by the way, and all my hits for "Si mes vers" came up with "If My Worms Had Wings". Even better than old sheet-music I once had with the singable translation "Were my songs with wings provided".
 
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