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Great British Sopranos

Nichols / Licette / Turner / Garden
Release Date: 03/13/2012 
Label:  Regis   Catalog #: 1374   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Carl Maria von WeberGiacomo PucciniClaude DebussyEmile Paladilhe,   ... 
Performer:  Agnes NichollsEva TurnerMary GardenMaggie Teyte,   ... 
Conductor:  Sir Malcolm SargentCarlo SabajnoSir Eugene GoossensEric Robinson
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Mono 
Length: 1 Hours 20 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Here we have examples – in several cases multiple examples – of the art of ten British sopranos of the first half of the twentieth century. Whether or not all are “great” is dubious, but certainly all are characterful and worth hearing. The choice of artists has been done well. Perhaps you might prefer it to include also Florence Easton or Joan Cross, but it would be hard to quibble with what has been included in terms of quality, quantity or variety. Each of the singers featured had a very individual sound and signature, and one might find it difficult on the Read more basis of these examples to write of a characteristically British style of singing during this period.

Agnes Nicholls, wife of Sir Hamilton Harty, starts the disc off with a wonderfully spontaneous and fearless sounding account of Rezia’s great aria from “Oberon”. The sound may be very restricted but there is no mistaking the attack of the voice. To my surprise Miriam Licette, a singer who can sometimes sound excessively correct on record, is also notable for her spontaneity here. The choice of “One fine day”, sung in English, for Eva Turner is a good one, and less obvious than one of the “Turandot” extracts one might have expected. It is a glorious and very committed performance, and an interesting comparison with Margaret Sheridan (in Italian) at the end of the disc. The examples of Mary Garden and Maggie Teyte are justly well known as models of the art of idiomatic French singing. Both Isobel Baillie and Elsie Suddaby sound lovely but very unstylish in Handel compared with what we are used to today, although the latter is much better in the Purcell extract. Dora Labette’s Delius songs, with wonderfully vague accompaniments by Beecham, are interesting if not entirely convincing, and Gwen Catley’s virtuoso singing in the Adam Variations is entertaining if far from her best record. Clearly the compilers have an especial and very understandable regard for the Irish soprano Margaret Sheridan, with four long examples of her in Puccini. This is singing of obvious sincerity and vitality.

Hugo Shirley’s notes are interesting if brief, and only limited information is given about the sources of the individual recordings. The transfers are satisfactory if no more than that. This is nonetheless a fascinating, well filled and well chosen anthology which should appeal to many to whom the chosen singers are not even names or who usually avoid “historic” recordings.

-- John Sheppard, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

Oberon, J 306: Ozean! du Ungeheuer by Carl Maria von Weber
Performer:  Agnes Nicholls ()
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1825-1826; Dresden, Germany 
Date of Recording: 12/19/1911 
Length: 4 Minutes 25 Secs. 
Madam Butterfly: Act 2. Act 2. One fine day by Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Eva Turner ()
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1904 
Date of Recording: 06/10/1933 
Length: 4 Minutes 7 Secs. 
Pelléas et Mélisande: Mes longs chevaux by Claude Debussy
Performer:  Mary Garden ()
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1893-1902; France 
Length: 1 Minutes 48 Secs. 
Psyché by Emile Paladilhe
Performer:  Maggie Teyte ()
Period: Romantic 
Written: France 
Date of Recording: 03/26/1941 
Length: 2 Minutes 51 Secs. 
Chanson d'avril by Georges Bizet
Performer:  Maggie Teyte ()
Period: Romantic 
Written: by 1867; France 
Length: 2 Minutes 31 Secs. 
Chansons (3) de Bilitis: no 1, La flûte de Pan by Claude Debussy
Performer:  Maggie Teyte ()
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1897-1898; France 
Date of Recording: 03/12/1936 
Length: 2 Minutes 30 Secs. 
Poème de l'amour et de la mer, Op. 19: no 3b, Le temps de lilas by Ernest Chausson
Performer:  Maggie Teyte ()
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1882-1890; France 
Length: 3 Minutes 54 Secs. 
Alessandro, HWV 21: Lusinghe più care by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Isobel Baillie ()
Conductor:  Sir Malcolm Sargent
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1726; London, England 
Date of Recording: 02/16/1949 
Length: 6 Minutes 29 Secs. 
Semele: O Sleep! Why dost thou leave me? by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Elsie Suddaby ()
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1743; England 
Date of Recording: 06/1927 
Length: 3 Minutes 35 Secs. 
The Fairy Queen: Act 5. Hark! The echoing air by Henry Purcell
Performer:  Elsie Suddaby ()
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1689; England 
Date of Recording: 07/11/1924 
Length: 1 Minutes 39 Secs. 
Songs (7) from the Norwegian: no 1, Cradle Song by Frederick Delius
Performer:  Dora Labette (), Sir Thomas Beecham (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1889-1890; Paris, France 
Date of Recording: 06/24/1929 
Length: 2 Minutes 17 Secs. 
The nightingale has a lyre of gold by Frederick Delius
Performer:  Dora Labette (), Sir Thomas Beecham (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1910; France 
Date of Recording: 06/24/1929 
Length: 2 Minutes 1 Secs. 
Songs (7) from the Norwegian: no 3, Evening Voices "Twilight Fancies" by Frederick Delius
Performer:  Sir Thomas Beecham (Piano), Dora Labette ()
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1890 
Date of Recording: 07/10/1929 
Length: 4 Minutes 10 Secs. 
Madam Butterfly: Act 1. Duet. Bimba dagli occhi by Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Margaret Sheridan (), Aureliano [Tenor vocals] Pertile ()
Conductor:  Carlo Sabajno
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1904 
Date of Recording: 1927 
Length: 8 Minutes 31 Secs. 
Madam Butterfly: Act 2. Un bel di vedrimo by Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Margaret Sheridan ()
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1904 
Date of Recording: 11/1926 
Length: 4 Minutes 28 Secs. 
Madam Butterfly: Act 2. E questo? by Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Margaret Sheridan ()
Conductor:  Sir Eugene Goossens
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1904 
Date of Recording: 11/1927 
Length: 4 Minutes 13 Secs. 
La Bohème: Si, mi chiamano Mimì by Giacomo Puccini
Performer:  Margaret Sheridan ()
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1896; Italy 
Date of Recording: 11/1926 
Length: 4 Minutes 39 Secs. 
Don Giovanni, K 527: Mi tradì, quell' alma ingrata by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Miriam Licette ()
Period: Classical 
Written: 1787; Prague, Czech Republ 
Date of Recording: 05/02/1929 
Length: 4 Minutes 6 Secs. 
Phidylé ("L'herbe est molle au sommeil"), song for voice & piano (or orchestra) by Henri Duparc
Performer:  Maggie Teyte ()
Period: Post-Romantic 
Written: 1882; France 
Date of Recording: 07/31/1940 
Length: 4 Minutes 26 Secs. 
Le toréador: Variations on "Ah! vous dirai-je maman" by Adolphe Adam
Performer:  Gwen Catley (), Lionel Solomon (Flute)
Conductor:  Eric Robinson
Period: Romantic  
Written: 1849; France 
Date of Recording: 03/07/1949 
Length: 4 Minutes 21 Secs. 
Ciboulette: Ce n'etait pas la même chose by Reynaldo Hahn
Performer:  Gerald Moore (Piano), Maggie Teyte ()
Period: Post-Romantic 
Written: 1923; France 
Date of Recording: 05/20/1946 
Length: 2 Minutes 34 Secs. 

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