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Melodies, Airs D'opera

Faniard,Fernand
Release Date: 05/11/2010 
Label:  Musique En Wallonie   Catalog #: 850   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Gabriel FauréErnest ChaussonClaude DebussyAlfred Bachelet,   ... 
Performer:  Fernand FaniardHeinrich BaumgartnerPierre Capdevielle
Conductor:  Roger Ellis
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 15 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



FERNAND FANIARD: Mélodies, airs d’opéra Fernand Faniard (ten); various pianists, conductors and orchestras MUSIQUE EN WALLONIE 0850, mono (74:00)


Songs and arias by BACHELET, CHAUSSON, DEBUSSY, DUPARC, FAURÉ, GRÉTRY, GLUCK, SAINT-SAËNS, SCHUBERT, SCHUMANN, WOLF


Many excellent opera singers over the years never developed international careers, for one reason or another. Some performed works in languages and lands far enough Read more removed from us to barely register as exotic eco-travel destinations. Still others preferred careers at home, whether because they liked being feted as the best in their vocal type rather than one among many, or because they preferred their settled home lives, or because they simply enjoyed their cultures too much to leave for alien ones. Or we just may be parochial, ourselves, solely aware of those opera singers whose careers brought them into the orbit of New York, Chicago, or San Francisco, with allowances (perhaps) for London.


The career of Fernand Faniard (1894–1955) almost took him to the Metropolitan later in life, in his 40s, as well as Germany, when World War II put an end to both those ideas. Before that, he was in demand at the best French-speaking opera houses: the Monte Carlo Opera, the Paris Opéra, and Bordeaux’s Grand Théâtre, where he sang leads opposite such stars as Germaine Lubin, Germaine Cernay, Suzanne Balguerie, and André Pernet. In Toulouse he sang in La Damnation de Faust with Vanni Marcoux and Ninon Vallin. Finally, there was Belgium’s La Monnaie, where his career began with an opera prize, while yet a young, unknown baritone, before he changed his range and method.


What set Faniard apart from so many other Franco-Belgium tenors of his time was the fact that he was a Heldentenor. There had been one such in the region, and a sensational one, at that: Paul Franz. But Franz (originally François Gauthier) was nearly 20 years older than Faniard, leaving the field clear for the Belgian’s assumption. According to all reports, the younger man’s technique demonstrated exceptional reach, resonance, and metal, but he also displayed a lyrical gift for the line that made his many performances in lighter roles a success. Frustratingly, he only recorded two Flemish songs in the studio. Nothing appears to remain of his Wagner. Yet after World War II he took part in a number of radio broadcasts, mainly singing mélodies and Lieder. These comprise the bulk of selections on this disc.


Even without allowances made for the fact that Faniard was over 55 when these performances took place, they are impressive. The voice is clearly a large one, with very forward enunciation that never loses a consonant and seldom exaggerates a vowel. It remains evenly and fairly effortlessly produced, with none of the problems of vocal aging that lead to scooping up to notes, or a lack of dynamics, or squeezing the diaphragm to heighten brightness. Above all, there is an impression of warmth—not through crooning close to the microphone, an accusation that might justly be made against another famous Wagnerian Heldentenor, Leo Slezak, who late in life recorded Lieder. If anything, Faniard is placed a bit further away from the microphone than we might like, presumably so as not to overpower his accompaniment, though he loses some presence as a result.


Fauré’s Clair de lune is hardly the kind of test piece one would hand to any singer who has spent decades performing Siegfried, Tristan, Lohengrin, and the like, yet it is a suitable example of this tenor’s art. “Tout en chantant,” Verlaine’s text tells us, and the last syllable isn’t prepared for the leap from D to G; but Faniard manages it cleanly, and with ease. The first syllable of “L’amour vainqueur” receives a slight slur downwards, imparting it an extra caress; the decrescendo marked over “chanson se mêle au clair de lune” is faithfully observed.


So it goes. This is hardly the most sinuous or beautiful of recorded versions, and there are some dry notes in among the rest, but the results more nearly approximate the lyrical singing one might expect of such lirico-spintos as George Thill and Solomon Chromchenko than the beefiness of a Wagnerian heavyweight in the twilight of his career. Perhaps some of it is owed to the tenor’s early studies with Désiré Demest, the first interpreter of Chausson’s Poème de l’amour et de la mer . Certainly Faniard’s own poetic account of the same composer’s La Caravane heard here is a fine one.


Nor was this all the old Heldentenor had left after decades of singing. Fortunately, the first six minutes survive from a 1950 radio performance of Wolf’s Prométhée with the Strasbourg Symphony Orchestra: plenty of power, a rock-solid technique, dead-on intonation, and the voice of a man who might as well be half his age. On the lighter side of the scale, there’s a tripping version of the sardonic Ritter Kurts Bratfahrt (performed here as Le Voyage nuptial du chevalier Conrad ), which could definitely use a greater range of dramatic portrayal, but misses nothing in the way of musicality. The liner notes mention surviving radio broadcasts of excerpts from Guercoeur and L’Attaque du moulin , but frustratingly, these aren’t included.


The sound clearly derives from a mix of carefully preserved studio tapes and acetates, the latter with some noise and overloading, but offering compensation in the form of closer mike placement. The best sound (with a real bloom to the ambience) is actually from a pair of airs by Gluck and Grétry, recorded in 1949 with the Radio Algier Orchestra, though they show Faniard displaying a rough patch in his voice. Regardless, this is a release of excellent value, bringing a tenor of quality to prominence who has escaped our attention until now. I can still wish we’d heard him in his prime, singing Wagner, as it must have been an unforgettable experience. But what we do have here is definitely worth the purchase.


FANFARE: Barry Brenesal
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Works on This Recording

1.
Clair de lune, Op. 46 no 2 by Gabriel Fauré
Performer:  Fernand Faniard (), Heinrich Baumgartner (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1887; France 
Date of Recording: 12/06/1951 
Venue:  Süddeutscher Rundfunk Stuttgart 
Length: 3 Minutes 19 Secs. 
2.
Fleur jetée, Op. 39 no 2 by Gabriel Fauré
Performer:  Fernand Faniard (), Heinrich Baumgartner (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1884; France 
Date of Recording: 12/06/1951 
Venue:  Süddeutscher Rundfunk Stuttgart 
Length: 1 Minutes 30 Secs. 
3.
La caravane, Op. 14 by Ernest Chausson
Performer:  Heinrich Baumgartner (Piano), Fernand Faniard ()
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1887; France 
Date of Recording: 12/06/1951 
Venue:  Süddeutscher Rundfunk Stuttgart 
Length: 7 Minutes 43 Secs. 
4.
Mandoline by Claude Debussy
Performer:  Heinrich Baumgartner (Piano), Fernand Faniard ()
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1882; France 
Date of Recording: 12/06/1951 
Venue:  Süddeutscher Rundfunk Stuttgart 
Length: 1 Minutes 49 Secs. 
5.
Beau soir by Claude Debussy
Performer:  Heinrich Baumgartner (Piano), Fernand Faniard ()
Period: 20th Century 
Written: circa 1880; France 
Date of Recording: 12/06/1951 
Venue:  Süddeutscher Rundfunk Stuttgart 
Length: 2 Minutes 58 Secs. 
6.
Tendresse, song for voice & piano by Alfred Bachelet
Performer:  Heinrich Baumgartner (Piano), Fernand Faniard ()
Date of Recording: 12/06/1951 
Venue:  Süddeutscher Rundfunk Stuttgart 
Length: 2 Minutes 28 Secs. 
7.
La chanson des trois roses, song for voice & piano by Alfred Bachelet
Performer:  Heinrich Baumgartner (Piano), Fernand Faniard ()
Date of Recording: 12/06/1951 
Venue:  Süddeutscher Rundfunk Stuttgart 
Length: 4 Minutes 47 Secs. 
8.
Schwanengesang, D 957: no 13, Der Doppelgänger by Franz Schubert
Performer:  Fernand Faniard (), Pierre Capdevielle (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1828; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 10/1950 
Venue:  Paris 
Length: 4 Minutes 34 Secs. 
9.
Dichterliebe, Op. 48: no 1, Im wunderschönen Monat Mai by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Heinrich Baumgartner (Piano), Fernand Faniard ()
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1840; Germany 
Date of Recording: 12/06/1951 
Venue:  Süddeutscher Rundfunk Stuttgart 
Length: 1 Minutes 44 Secs. 
10.
Dichterliebe, Op. 48: no 2, Aus meinen Tränen spriessen by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Heinrich Baumgartner (Piano), Fernand Faniard ()
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1840; Germany 
Date of Recording: 12/06/1951 
Venue:  Süddeutscher Rundfunk Stuttgart 
Length: 1 Minutes 11 Secs. 
11.
Dichterliebe, Op. 48: no 3, Die Rose, die Lilie by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Fernand Faniard (), Heinrich Baumgartner (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1840; Germany 
Date of Recording: 12/06/1951 
Venue:  Süddeutscher Rundfunk Stuttgart 
Length: 0 Minutes 34 Secs. 
12.
Dichterliebe, Op. 48: no 4, Wenn ich in deine Augen seh by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Heinrich Baumgartner (Piano), Fernand Faniard ()
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1840; Germany 
Date of Recording: 12/06/1951 
Venue:  Süddeutscher Rundfunk Stuttgart 
Length: 1 Minutes 52 Secs. 
13.
Dichterliebe, Op. 48: no 6, Im Rhein, im heiligen Strome by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Heinrich Baumgartner (Piano), Fernand Faniard ()
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1840; Germany 
Date of Recording: 12/06/1951 
Venue:  Süddeutscher Rundfunk Stuttgart 
Length: 2 Minutes 47 Secs. 
14.
Dichterliebe, Op. 48: no 7, Ich grolle nicht by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Heinrich Baumgartner (Piano), Fernand Faniard ()
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1840; Germany 
Date of Recording: 12/06/1951 
Venue:  Süddeutscher Rundfunk Stuttgart 
Length: 2 Minutes 20 Secs. 
15.
Dichterliebe, Op. 48: no 8, Und wüssten's die Blumen, die kleinen by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Heinrich Baumgartner (Piano), Fernand Faniard ()
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1840; Germany 
Date of Recording: 12/06/1951 
Venue:  Süddeutscher Rundfunk Stuttgart 
Length: 1 Minutes 25 Secs. 
16.
Dichterliebe, Op. 48: no 10, Hör ich das Liedchen klingen by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Fernand Faniard (), Heinrich Baumgartner (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1840; Germany 
Date of Recording: 12/06/1951 
Venue:  Süddeutscher Rundfunk Stuttgart 
Length: 2 Minutes 4 Secs. 
17.
Le voyage nuptial du chevalier Conrad by Hugo Wolf
Performer:  Fernand Faniard ()
Date of Recording: 1950 
Venue:  Strasbourg 
Length: 5 Minutes 21 Secs. 
18.
Prometheus by Hugo Wolf
Performer:  Fernand Faniard ()
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1889; Austria 
Date of Recording: 1950 
Venue:  Strasbourg 
Length: 6 Minutes 0 Secs. 
19.
Alceste: Bannis la crainte et les alarmes by Christoph W. Gluck
Performer:  Fernand Faniard ()
Conductor:  Roger Ellis
Period: Classical 
Written: 1767; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1950 
Venue:  Strasbourg 
Length: 4 Minutes 49 Secs. 
20.
Zémire et Azor: Act 2. Scene 1. No. 11. Ah! Quels tourments by André-Ernest-Mode Grétry
Performer:  Fernand Faniard ()
Conductor:  Roger Ellis
Period: Classical 
Written: 1771; France 
Date of Recording: 08/18/1949 
Venue:  Radio Alger 
Length: 4 Minutes 44 Secs. 
21.
Chanson triste ("Dans ton coeur..."), song for voice & piano (or orchestra), Op. 2/4 by Henri Duparc
Performer:  Heinrich Baumgartner (Piano), Fernand Faniard ()
Period: Post-Romantic 
Written: 1868 
Date of Recording: 12/06/1951 
Venue:  Süddeutscher Rundfunk Stuttgart 
Length: 3 Minutes 57 Secs. 
22.
Le manoir de Rosamonde ("De sa dent soudaine et vorace"), song for voice & piano (or orchestra) by Henri Duparc
Performer:  Heinrich Baumgartner (Piano), Fernand Faniard ()
Period: Post-Romantic 
Written: 1879 
Date of Recording: 12/06/1951 
Venue:  Süddeutscher Rundfunk Stuttgart 
Length: 3 Minutes 1 Secs. 
23.
Mélodies persanes, Op. 26: 4. Sabre en main by Henri Duparc
Performer:  Heinrich Baumgartner (Piano), Fernand Faniard ()
Date of Recording: 12/06/1951 
Venue:  Süddeutscher Rundfunk Stuttgart 
Length: 3 Minutes 53 Secs. 

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