Thursday, July 14, 2011

Universal's Eloquence Releases Rare Archived Recordings

Complete track listings and album notes for each release
can be found after the jump.

Régine Crespin:
The larger-than-life Régine Crespin, made only one song recital record for Decca, of music by Schumann, Wolf, Debussy and Poulenc. This is the first time the entire recital has been made available on CD. As her career progressed, Crespin became associated with certain roles – Kundry, Sieglinde, Brünnhilde, Tosca, the Marschallin – but she was prodigiously versatile, thanks to her years in the French provinces. An intelligent singer who understood how to make the texts count, Crespin also had tremendous success in non-operatic repertory. Her 1963 Decca recording, with conductor Ernest Ansermet, of Berlioz’s Les Nuits d'été and Ravel’s Shéhérazade, is regarded as among the best available. In its original French, her candid and entertaining autobiography is called La vie et l'amour d'une femme, which is also the French translation of Schumann's song cycle Frauenliebe und -leben. Indeed, Lieder by Schumann and Wolf were important parts of her recital repertory, and she brought the same depth of meaning to their German texts as she did to her Wagnerian roles. Of course French, being her native language, evoked a most immediate and intimate response from this singer. This release marks the launch of an Eloquence series of notable recitals of songs and opera arias by some of the great voices of Decca and Deutsche Grammophon.

Trois chansons de Bilitis

Chanson d'Orkenise
La Courte Paille: Le Carafon
La Courte Paille: 3. La Reine de coeur
Chansons villageoises: Les gars qui vont ŕ la fęte
Fętes galantes

Gedichte der Königin Maria Stuart, Op. 135

Wolf, H:
In der Frühe (No. 24 from Mörike-Lieder)
Der Gärtner (No. 17 from Mörike-Lieder)
Das verlassene Mägdlein (No. 7 from Mörike-Lieder)
Ich hab in Penna einen Liebsten (No. 46 from Italienisches Liederbuch)
Anakreons Grab (No. 29 from Goethe-Lieder)
Verschwiegene Liebe (No. 3 from Eichendorff-Lieder)

Régine Crespin (soprano)
John Wustman (piano)


Birgit Nilsson:
Birgit Nilsson. Richard Wagner. It was an operatic marriage made in heaven that lasted for over twenty years and, thanks to recordings, continues to thrill music lovers around the world. She sang her first Wagnerian part in Stockholm. It was Senta in Der fliegende Holländer. It was greeted rapturously and throughout her long career it was for her Wagner and Strauss roles that she was most noted. Many of the greatest recordings of music dramas and operas by these composers have featured her, and many appear on Decca. However, she also made two Wagner records for Philips – one with Leif Segerstam in 1974 of extended scenes from Walküre and Parsifal, another, in 1972, with Colin Davis of the Wesendonck-Lieder and extracts from Der fliegende Holländer, Rienzi and the little-known early Wagner opera, Die Feen (The Fairies). Also included are scenes from Tristan und Isolde, one of her great calling cards and of which she made at least two live recordings, one studio recording with Georg Solti, and another of scenes (with Grace Hoffman as Brangäne) with Hans Knappertsbusch.

Nilsson’s voice had the clear, silvery sound that seems to be characteristic of Scandinavian singers. It was rock solid, encompassed over two octaves, and was perfectly even, top to bottom. It was also enormous. Especially in the upper part of the voice it could take on a laser-like quality that simply sliced through the densest orchestral sound and speared listeners to the backs of their seats. That meant the great moments of a Wagnerian opera were truly monumental – a surging orchestra and a soprano who dominated everything, combined into an overwhelming climax as Wagner must have heard in his dreams.

Here is a snapshot of some of those great moments, captured on record, and bringing together three complete LPs – two made for Philips (Segerstam, Davis) and one for Decca (Knappertsbusch).

Schlafst du, Gast? Ich bin's! (from Die Walküre)
Dies alles – hab’ ich nun geträumt? (from Parsifal)
Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Leif Segerstam

Gerechter Gott! (from Rienzi)
London Symphony Orchestra, Sir Colin Davis

Johohoe! Traft ihr das Schiff im Meere an 'Senta's Ballad' (from Der fliegende Holländer)
The John Alldis Choir & London Symphony Orchestra, Sir Colin Davis

Weh mir, so nah (from Die Feen)
Wesendonck-Lieder (5)
London Symphony Orchestra, Sir Colin Davis

Tristan und Isolde: Prelude to Act 1
Wie lachend sie mir Lieder singen (from Tristan und Isolde)
Grace Hoffman (Brangäne)
Wiener Philharmoniker, Hans Knappertsbusch

Tristan und Isolde: Prelude & Liebestod
Wiener Philharmoniker, Hans Knappertsbusch


Elisabeth Söderström:
Elisabeth Söderström was a born storyteller. She told stories not just in music, but also peppered her recitals on stage with tales and anecdotes. It made her a perfect interpreter for the collection of children’s songs by Mussorgsky, Prokofiev and Gretchaninov she recorded with Vladimir Ashkenazy in 1977–78 which appear on CD2 of this set, the first (LP) issue greeted with enthusiasm by Gramophone reviewer W.S.M. with the words ‘the best record of song to appear in 1979’. It later went on to win the 1979 Gramophone’s Solo Vocal Award. But there was more: a selection of Tchaikovsky songs over two LPs; a substantial survey of the Rachmaninov songs (‘one of the gramophone’s crown jewels’ wrote John Steane in Gramophone) as well as the complete Sibelius songs.

Born in Stockholm on 7 May 1927 to a Russian mother and Swedish father, Söderström she was a talented recitalist, as much in demand in the concert hall as she was in the opera theatre. From 1991–96 she also directed the Drottingholm Festival Opera with much success. The two LPs of Tchaikovsky songs were issued in part by Decca on CD and this is their first complete release in this format. Overshadowed by his orchestral works, they are nonetheless absolute gems, with their piano parts of almost orchestral scope. Ashkenazy’s is, too, the disembodied voice that speaks a few of Pushkin’s lines in the early setting of Zemfira's song.

‘Söderström came to be known internationally in the late 1950s,’ wrote John Steane, ‘and over the next three decades, on until her retirement from singing in the early 1990s she never “blotted her copybook”. She neither sought nor won cheap success.’ Söderström passed away in Stockholm on 20 November 2009, aged 82, from complications from a stroke.

This release marks the launch of an Eloquence series of notable recitals of songs and opera arias by some of the great voices of Decca and Deutsche Grammophon.
Gramophone Magazine

The Lane – Five Children’s Songs, Op. 89

The Nursery

The Ugly Duckling, Op. 18

The Cuckoo, Op. 54 No. 8
Evening, Op. 27, No. 4
The Nightingale Op. 60 No. 4
Last Night Op. 60 No. 1
None but the lonely heart, Op. 6 No. 6
Lullaby, Op. 16 No. 1
Otchevo? (Why?), Op. 6 No. 5
Strashnaya minuta (The Fearful Moment), Op. 28 No. 6
Den' li tsarit? (Does the day reign?), Op. 47 No. 6
Spring, Op 54 No. 9
Simple Words, Op. 60, No. 5
Mezza notte
Sérénade, Op. 65 No. 1
Déception, Op. 65 No. 2
Qu'importe que l'hiver, Op. 65 No. 4
Les Larmes, Op. 65 No. 5
Zakatilos solntse (The sun has set), Op. 73 No. 4
Kak nad goratcheďou zoloď, Op. 25 No. 2
Moy geni, moy angel, moy drug (My genius, my angel, my friend)
Pesn' Zemfiri (Zemfira's song)
Do not believe, my friend Op. 6 No. 1
Zabďt tak skoro (So soon forgotten)
Oh! Chante encore op.16 No.4
Spirit my heart away
Why did I dream of you?, Op. 28 No. 3
To bilo ranneyu vesnoy (It happened in the early spring), Op. 38 No. 2
Sred' shumnogo bala (Amid the din of the ball), Op. 38 No. 3
If only I had known, Op.47, No.1
Was I not a blade of grass?, Op. 47 No. 7
My little garden, Op. 54 No. 4
Do not ask, Op. 57 No. 3
This, our first reunion, Op. 63 No. 4
O ditya, pod okoshkom tvoim (Serenade), Op. 63 No. 6
Rondel, Op. 65 No. 6
We sat with you, Op. 73 No. 1
Behind the window, Op 60 No. 10

Elisabeth Söderström (soprano)
Vladimir Ashkenazy (piano)


Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau:

‘You sing as if you had written it yourself!’ Jean Cocteau once told Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. This anthology of lieder by Brahms and Schumann is a prime example of the great singer doing just that, mining every nuance of emotion from a song while, at the same time, sounding as spontaneous and free as if he were making it up on the spot. One of the hallmarks of Fischer-Dieskau’s legacy is the ease with which he creates the spell of each individual song, drawing the listener – apparently effortlessly – into the drama created by the words and the music.

Fischer-Dieskau recorded extensively for Deutsche Grammophon, and the bulk of his archive has been mined on CDs. These recordings, however, are rarities. The songs on CD1 appeared only as part of the Fischer-Dieskau Edition for his 75th birthday. The Brahms songs on CD2 make their first appearance on CD. And the 1957 recording of Schumann’s Dichterliebe with his long-time pianist Jörg Demus, only appeared as part of Deutsche Grammophon’s centenary edition. CD2 includes the Four Duets, Op. 28 in which Fischer-Dieskau is partnered by an artist not heard enough on records, the contralto Kerstin Meyer.

This release marks the launch of an Eloquence series of notable recitals of songs and opera arias by some of the great voices of Decca and Deutsche Grammophon.

Vier ernste Gesänge, Op. 121
Sommerabend, Op. 85 No. 1
Mondenschein, Op. 85 No. 2
Es liebt sich so lieblich, Op. 71 No. 1
Meerfahrt, Op. 96 No. 4
Es schauen die Blumen, Op. 96 No. 3
Der Tod, das ist die kühle Nacht, Op. 96 No. 1
Mit vierzig Jahren, Op. 94 No. 1
Steig auf, geliebter Schatten, Op. 94 No. 2
Mein Herz ist schwer, Op. 94 No. 3
Kein Haus, keine Heimat, Op. 94 No. 5
Alte Liebe, Op. 72 No. 1
Abenddämmerung, Op. 49 No. 5
Heimweh, Op. 63 No. 8
Auf dem Kirchhofe, Op. 105 No. 4
Verzagen, Op. 72 No. 4
Regenlied (No. 3 from Acht Lieder und Gesänge, Op. 59)
Nachklang (No. 4 from Acht Lieder und Gesänge, Op. 59)
Fruhlingslied, Op. 85, No. 5
Auf dem See (No. 2 from Acht Lieder und Gesänge, Op. 59)
Feldeinsamkeit, Op. 86 No. 2
An eine Äolsharfe, Op. 19 No. 5
Der Frühling, Op. 6 No. 2
Wie die Wolke nach der Sonne (No. 5 from Sechs Gesänge, Op. 6)
Treue Liebe, Op. 7, No. 1
Heimkehr, Op. 7 No. 6
Juchhe! (No. 4 from Sechs Gesänge, Op. 6)
Nachwirkung, Op. 6 No. 3
Ein Sonett, Op. 14 No. 4 (Herder)
Ständchen, Op. 14 No. 7
Vor dem Fenster Op. 14/1
Scheiden und Meiden, Op. 19, No 2
Gang zur Liebsten, Op. 14 No. 6
Von verwundeten Knaben, Op. 14 No. 2
Murrays Ermordung, Op. 14 No. 3
Sehnsucht 'Mein Schatz ist nicht da', Op. 14 No. 8
Duette (4), Op. 28

Dichterliebe, Op. 48

Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (baritone)
Kerstin Meyer (contralto)
Jörg Demus (piano)