Academic journal article ARSC Journal

Anthology of Song, Volume I

Academic journal article ARSC Journal

Anthology of Song, Volume I

Article excerpt

Anthology of Song, Volume I. Therese Behr, Anton van Rooy, Anton Sistermans, Felix Senius (with Clara Senius-Erler), Kirsten Flagstad, Petre Munteanu. Symposium 1356.

Anthology of Song, Volume II. Friedrich Brodersen, Kirsten Flagstad-Hall, Mme. Charles Cahier, Diane van Demmelen, Walter Widdop, Pol Plancon, Madeleine Grey, Ivar Andresen, Frieda Hempel. Symposium 1357.

Anthology of Song, Volume III. Leo Slezak. Symposium 1366.

Anthology of Song, Volume IV. Franz Naval (Schubert: Die schone Mullerin), Julia Culp (Schumann: Frauenliebe und -leben). Symposium 1367.

Symposium's An Anthology of Song is at once so promising a concept, so exasperatingly compiled, and (in part) so intriguing and valuable, that one hardly knows how to give its first four installments an appropriate welcome. Perhaps a sequential replay of my reactions to the contents as they unfold will give a sense of the ambivalent reception I feel bound to provide.

Volume I begins very promisingly, with five of the seven published G&Ts from 1904 by mezzo-soprano Therese Behr (Behr-Schnabel, after marrying pianist Artur Schnabel the next year); gratitude at hearing these rare recordings, only one of which (to my knowledge) had previously appeared on a commercial reissue, helps one not to mind too much the fuzzy boundaries created by the inclusion of an opera aria--"Ombra mai fu" from Handel's Xerxes, which after all one does encounter in recital settings. Next come the four Schubert and Schumann titles from bass-baritone Anton van Rooy's Columbia recordings, originally released in 1906-09, which have never previously appeared together in a single reissue; doubts concerning the accuracy of playback speed used for these items inhibits enjoyment to some extent (more below). There follows a group of three titles from among the 1904 G&Ts made by bass Anton Sistermans (both Brahms' "Sapphische Ode" and Strauss's "Traum durch die Dammerung" have been reissued several times previously, but most collectors will not have heard him in Brahms' "Feldeinsamkeit"). A little dissatisfaction sets in with the three selections by tenor Felix Senius--since there have been at least two complete editions of his recordings, the decision to include the aria from Mendelssohn's oratorio St. Paul (beautifully sung though it may be) instead of another song (Beethoven's "Adelaide," Brahms' "Feldeinsamkeit," or the other duet with his wife Clara Senius-Erler) makes one question the compilers' commitment to the ostensible focus of the project. A selection of five unpublished Schubert titles by Kirsten Flagstad ("?1947, accompanist ?Ernest Lush" guesses the annotation) and a 1946 Parlophone recording by Petre Munteanu of songs by Brahms and Wolf both groups of recordings chronologically separated from the rest of the items on this volume by more than three decades, and thus stylistically very different from what has come before--brings this disc to a close. Throughout, one notes a decidedly German focus and a tendency to favor "high-class" lieder while excluding other sorts of songs (some lighter fare is a part of van Rooy's Columbia legacy, for example).

Volume II begins with more German lieder, this time featuring Friedrich Brodersen--one of the most valuable segments of the whole series, as we shall see. Then variety begins to manifest itself with a pair of acoustical recordings (featuring songs by Grieg and Rosenfeld) by Kirsten Flagstad (one notes the commercially canny but less than considerate decision to include performances by this much-collected singer on two discs rather than just one), and some unpublished early electrical recordings by Mme. Charles Cahier, ranging from Schubert to Scandinavian songs to the "Habanera" from Carmen. The little-known Diane van Demmelen, recording privately in the 1930s, sings songs by Grieg (in English) and Manuel de Falla, while from the mid-1920s Walter Widdop sings four English songs (by Woodeforde-Finden, Clutsam, and Manson). …

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