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Anthology of Song II: Kirsten Flagstad, Walter Widdop, Frieda Hempel


Release Date: 11/06/2007 
Label:  Symposium   Catalog #: 1357   Spars Code: ADD 
Composer:  Gustav MahlerFranz SchubertCarl LoeweEdvard Grieg,   ... 
Performer:  Friedrich BrodersenKirsten FlagstadSarah Jane Charles-CahierDiane van Demmelen,   ... 
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Mono 
Length: 1 Hours 19 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



AN ANTHOLOGY OF SONG, VOLUME 2 Ivar Andrésen (bs); 1 Friedrich Brodersen (ten); 2 Mme. Charles-Cahier (alt); 3 Diane van Demmelen (sop); 4 Kirsten Flagstad-Hall (sop); 5 Madeleine Grey (sop); 6 Frieda Hempel (sop); 7 Pol Read more Plançon (bs); 8 Walter Widdop (ten); 7 Various accompaniments SYMPOSIUM 1357 (78:37)


Songs by BEMBERG, 8 BIZET, 3 CHAMINADE, 8 CLUTSAM, 9 FALLA, 4 FERRARI, 8 GRIEG, 3,4,5 KOSS, 2 MANGOLD, 7 MANSON, 9 RAVEL, 6 ROSENFELD, 5 SCHUBERT, 2,7 SCHUMANN, 8 SCHWARTZENDORF, 3 SIBELIUS, 3 R. STRAUSS, 1 WOODEFORDE-FINDEN 9


Symposium’s anthologies may strike some listeners as peculiar, a combination of largely unknown (to most classical listeners) performers in very archival sound. But for those who find vintage singers and recordings a strong draw—among whom I number myself—each album is like a tray of dessert chocolates. Every selection holds its own distinct promise, and you really wish you could sample the lot, cholesterol overload be damned. Fortunately, you can try one of these anthologies without doing damage to your arteries, a fact that makes Symposium a healthier bet than any four-star French restaurant you care to name.


This one has its share of curiosities. Kirsten Flagstad-Hall is, of course, Flagstad at the beginning of her lengthy career, in 1913. You may doubt the acoustical origins of the record, after sampling the glorious richness of that voice in the Grieg, but that’s in large part due to her willingness to give her full-throated all with exemplary legato. Rosenfeld’s Ingalill is a lesser proposition, but the refrain shows Flagstad magically lightening her tone.


Then there is Walter Widdop, an English oratorio singer whose Sound an Alarm was an annual feature on my old holidays opera show on radio, years ago. There’s no aural delicacy about his sound, or emotional display, but plenty of exemplary diction, fine vocal production, and wonderful trumpet-like metal. Manson’s A Birthday , not surprisingly, doesn’t come off—what ever possessed the clarion-voiced Widdop to sing a song that starts “My heart is like a singing bird/whose nest is in a water chute”? (Pronounced “singing a-bird” in his traditionalist approach.) Yet there is a surprising modulation of approach in Clutsam’s sentimental “I know of two bright eyes.” There’s no denying the success of Widdop’s attempt to reduce his vocal heft and inject intimacy and warmth into his efforts, despite a climactic call to “Mira, O Mira!” that does in fact blast the house. Poor Mira—I hope she escaped without bleeding from her ears.


Madame Charles-Cahier (who preferred not to be known by her birth name of Sarah Jane Walker) shows worn resources and considerable art. (Perhaps her Carmen Habanera snuck into this group because it’s the best of her lot.) A pupil of de Reszke, she also taught Marian Anderson, Rosette Anday, and Göta Ljunberg. Plançon is charming in his group of songs recorded in June of 1903—how else? His French enunciation is immaculate, and his cello-like tone displayed to greatest advantage in Bemberg’s Soupir . Brodersen is the most natural Lieder singer in the group, attentive to detail—lovingly so in the final “so mannche Nacht, in alter Zeit?” of Schubert’s Der Doppengänger , despite some forcing of tone and ugly vowels, elsewhere.


Frieda Hempel was 50 at the time of her pair of recordings, here, but aside from some shortness of breath and occasionally attenuated tone there’s little to show of age. Instead, she makes a number of intelligent points. Dark-voiced Ivar Andrésen’s 1929 Ruhe meine Seele shows him in better vocal estate than his later Wagnerian recordings, with their wide vibrato. It is a splendid rendition, despite some opaque tone in the louder passages that may have been a harbinger of what was to come. Madeleine Grey in Ravel is a match, of course: a perfect meld of temperament, dark tone, intellectual analysis, and fidelity. I’m only surprised that something more rare hadn’t been selected for inclusion.


That’s true, in general. All save one of these singers were popular during their lifetimes and made records that have remained so with collectors, to this day. The exception is Diane van Demmelen (or Dommelen; there’s some uncertainty). Not only didn’t I know who she was before listening to this release, I still have no idea. The knowledgeable liner notes admit to a similar condition, suggesting that she was “probably a gifted amateur, perhaps a pupil of Blanche Marchesi in London.” Her voice on the 1933/34 private recording issued here is a pure soprano with a fast vibrato, and a schematic approach to interpretation. Nana is sung with good dynamics and breath control, as well as a curiously sexless, even inhuman, tone.


The recordings understandably vary in quality, some being worn (like the very rare Plançon G & Ts), while others, such as Andrésen and Hempel, are in truly fine shape. As in past Symposium releases, no attempt is made to filter the original sound. The liner numbers are brief paragraphs about each singer, with a second one on Grey unfortunately out of order and placed after Hempel.


There are some real joys to be had on this new album, and none of the portamento or heavy-handed treatments found in quite a few song recordings of 80 or more years ago. Definitely for collectors, but this album also holds pleasures for those who have enjoyed the opera side of Plançon, Hempel, Flagstad, Brodersen, or Andrésen, and want to try something else. You won’t be disappointed.


FANFARE: Barry Brenesal
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Works on This Recording

1. Songs (3): no 2, Winterlied by Gustav Mahler
Performer:  Friedrich Brodersen (Tenor)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1880; Austria 
Date of Recording: 1905 
Language: German 
Notes: This selection is a mono recording. 
2. Schwanengesang, D 957: no 13, Der Doppelgänger by Franz Schubert
Performer:  Friedrich Brodersen (Tenor)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1828; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 01/17/1924 
Language: German 
Notes: This selection is a mono recording. 
3. Songs (54), Op. 9, Book 1: no 3, Über allen Gipfeln ist Ruh' by Carl Loewe
Performer:  Friedrich Brodersen (Tenor)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1817; Germany 
Date of Recording: 01/17/1924 
Language: German 
Notes: This selection is a mono recording. 
4. Schwanengesang, D 957: no 12, Am Meer by Franz Schubert
Performer:  Friedrich Brodersen (Tenor)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1828; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 12/12/1921 
Language: German 
Notes: This selection is a mono recording. 
5. Schwanengesang, D 957: no 4, Ständchen by Franz Schubert
Performer:  Friedrich Brodersen (Tenor)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1828; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 12/12/1921 
Language: German 
Notes: This selection is a mono recording. 
6. Songs (4), Op. 21: no 3, I give my song to springtime by Edvard Grieg
Performer:  Friedrich Brodersen (Tenor)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1872; Norway 
Date of Recording: 12/12/1921 
Language: German 
Notes: This selection is a mono recording. 
7. Ingalil by Paul Leopold Rosenfeld
Performer:  Kirsten Flagstad (Soprano)
Period: 20th Century 
Date of Recording: 1913 
Notes: This selection is a mono recording. 
8. Songs (6), Op. 36: no 4, Sigh, sedges, sigh by Jean Sibelius
Performer:  Sarah Jane Charles-Cahier (Soprano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1899; Finland 
Date of Recording: C1927 
Language: German 
Notes: This selection is a mono recording. 
9. Der Tod und das Mädchen, D 531/Op. 7 no 3 by Franz Schubert
Performer:  Sarah Jane Charles-Cahier (Soprano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1817; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: C1927 
Language: German 
Notes: This selection is a mono recording. 
10. Songs (6), Op. 25: no 2, A swan by Edvard Grieg
Performer:  Sarah Jane Charles-Cahier (Soprano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1876; Norway 
Date of Recording: C1927 
Language: German 
Notes: This selection is a mono recording. 
11. Menuet by Johann Paul A. Martini
Performer:  Sarah Jane Charles-Cahier (Soprano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 18th Century; France 
Date of Recording: 09/21/1928 
Notes: This selection is a mono recording. 
12. Carmen: L'amour est un oiseau rebelle "Habañera" by Georges Bizet
Performer:  Sarah Jane Charles-Cahier (Soprano)
Written: 1873-1874 
Date of Recording: 09/20/1928 
Language: French 
Notes: This selection is a mono recording.
Composition written: France (1873 - 1874). 
13. Thee I love!, EG 127 by Edvard Grieg
Performer:  Diane van Demmelen (Soprano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1865; Norway 
Language: English 
Notes: This selection is a mono recording.
Circa 1930 - Circa 1935 
14. Canciones populares españolas (7): no 5, Nana by Manuel de Falla
Performer:  Diane van Demmelen (Soprano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1914-1915; Spain 
Venue:  London, England 
Language: Spanish 
Notes: This selection is a mono recording.
London, England (1933 - 1934) 
15. A request by Amy Woodforde Finden
Performer:  Walter Widdop (Tenor)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: England 
Date of Recording: 08/13/1926 
Venue:  Hayes, Middlesex, England 
Language: English 
Notes: This selection is a mono recording. 
16. I know of two bright eyes by George H. Clutsam
Performer:  Walter Widdop (Tenor)
Period: 20th Century 
Date of Recording: C08/13/1926 
Venue:  Hayes, Middlesex, England 
Language: English 
Notes: This selection is a mono recording. 
17. Songs (3) of love and youth: no 2, A birthday by Willy B. Manson
Performer:  Walter Widdop (Tenor)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1919 
Date of Recording: C03/28/1924 
Venue:  Hayes, Middlesex, England 
Language: German 
Notes: This selection is a mono recording. 
18. Songs (3) of love and youth: no 3, Hence, away begone by Willy B. Manson
Performer:  Walter Widdop (Tenor)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1919 
Date of Recording: C03/28/1924 
Venue:  Hayes, Middlesex, England 
Language: German 
Notes: This selection is a mono recording. 
19. Le soupir by Hermann Bemberg
Performer:  Pol Plançon (Bass)
Period: Romantic 
Written: France 
Date of Recording: 1903 
Venue:  Paris, France 
Language: French 
Notes: This selection is a mono recording. 
20. Au pays bleu by Cécile Louise Chaminade
Performer:  Pol Plançon (Bass)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1898; France 
Date of Recording: 1903 
Venue:  Paris, France 
Language: French 
Notes: This selection is a mono recording. 
21. La Lazzerone by Carlotta Ferrari
Performer:  Pol Plançon (Bass)
Period: Romantic 
Date of Recording: 1903 
Venue:  Paris, France 
Language: Italian 
Notes: This selection is a mono recording. 
22. Gedichte (12), Op. 35: no 3, Wanderlied by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Pol Plançon (Bass)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1840; Germany 
Date of Recording: 1903 
Venue:  Paris, France 
Language: German 
Notes: This selection is a mono recording. 
23. Mélodies hébraïques (2): no 1, Kaddisch by Maurice Ravel
Performer:  Madeleine Grey (Soprano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1914-1919; France 
Date of Recording: 1932 
Venue:  Paris, France 
Language: French 
Notes: This selection is a mono recording. 
24. Chants populaires: no 4, Chanson hébraïque by Maurice Ravel
Performer:  Madeleine Grey (Soprano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1910; France 
Date of Recording: 1932 
Venue:  Paris, France 
Language: French 
Notes: This selection is a mono recording. 
25. Mélodies hébraïques (2): no 2, L'énigme éternelle by Maurice Ravel
Performer:  Madeleine Grey (Soprano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1914-1919; France 
Date of Recording: 1932 
Venue:  Paris, France 
Language: French 
Notes: This selection is a mono recording. 
26. Lieder (4), Op. 27: no 1, Ruhe, meine Seele by Richard Strauss
Performer:  Ivar Andrésen (Bass)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1894; Germany 
Date of Recording: 1929 
Language: German 
Notes: This selection is a mono recording. 
27. Auf dem Wasser zu singen, D 774/Op. 72 by Franz Schubert
Performer:  Frieda Hempel (Soprano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1823; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1935 
Language: German 
Notes: This selection is a mono recording. 
28. Zwiegesang by Carl Reinecke
Performer:  Frieda Hempel (Soprano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 19th Century; Germany 
Date of Recording: 1935 
Venue:  Berlin, Germany 
Language: German 
Notes: This selection is a mono recording. 

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