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Which singer did you like best?

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409 Posts
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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409 Posts
What recordings represent Teyte in freshest voice?
Well, Teyte was born in 1888. If you mean "when was she youngest", she made a single 78 side for HMV in 1907, where the voice is recorded (or transferred) distantly, but is recognizable as the same voice it was 40 years later:

She did 14 sides for [US] Columbia between 1913 and 1916, including Hahn's "L'Heure exquise", which I can't find on YouTube in this recording, and three Thomas Moore songs, of which this is one:

and here are the words, since I like the song and wish it hadn't dropped off the horizon [Bori did it better, though]:

When Love is kind,
Cheerful and free,
Love's sure to find
Welcome from me.

But when Love brings
Heartache or pang,
Tears and such things --
Love may go hang!

If Love can sigh
For one alone,
Well pleased am I
To be that one.

But should I see
Love giv'n to rove
To two or three,
Then -- good-bye, Love!

Love must, in short,
Keep fond and true,
Through good report,
And evil too.

Else, here I swear,
Young Love may go,
For aught I care --
To Jericho.

She did some operetta sides for HMV in 1919, including four sides from Messager's Monsieur Beaucaire, in which she had done the premiere performance of the female lead, but I can't find them on YouTube though 4 sides were issued in the 4-LP HMV Treasury set. Then marriage and 10 years retirement. After relaunching her career she made I think 8 sides for Decca, her first electrics, including Fauré's "Après un rêve" and Hahn's "Si mes vers", but mostly operettas including Périchole and Messager's Véronique:

The breakout came with the album of Debussy songs she did with Alfred Cortot for HMV in 1935, of which this is one:

She did Massenet's Manon, in English, with Heddle Nash as Des Grieux, for the BBC in 1939. Maybe 30 years ago they rebroadcast it, but though Act I is I think complete, somebody had walked off the the 78 rpm discs with her big numbers + whatever happened to be on the flipside, so it's a frustrating listen. Here's what's left, from YouTube, though I remember the voices being much more forward from my old tape of the broadcast:

Then in 1940 came more Debussy, this time with Gerald Moore, on a special-products commission from the Gramophone Shop in NYC, then throughout the 1940's an explosion of song recordings, largely French, from HMV, plus several Telephone Hours from US radio, all or nearly all of which survive in listenable-to-good sound, as well as I'm-not-so-sure-how-much from the BBC.

Steane has the theory that the explosion occurred because during WWII classical vocal music in German or Italian was off-limits, either by practice or decree. He doesn't seem to like the Debussy songs much -- under-interpreted, he says, and perhaps he is also a little turned off by the degree to which they've always been considered de rigeur. "But basically the point about Maggie Teyte is the very simple one, that her singing is so good: that is, her voice is so clear, its production so even, its emission so steady, its intonation so faultless, its movement in big upward intervals so clean and athletic, and its excellence was so well preserved for so long." I concur, but add that I find her emotional communication wonderful, and in the end the overriding characteristic of her singing. You can really choose just about anything of hers by how much you like the piece itself.

The voice really did up hold extraordinarily well. Those who find Licia Albanese as perpetually "grandmother-like" might find the same with Teyte; but if so, I can only congratulate them on their grandmothers.

The 4-LP HMV Treasury set really was very good, including maybe 2/3 of her HMV output, with some editorial taste involved in the omitted material. It's astounding that she never got her "Icons" CD box with everybody else; when may we expect it? The 2-CD Naxos set looks like they have used material from Decca, HMV, and RCA, probably not the acoustic material.
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