Notes and Editorial Reviews
4 Last Songs
Ernest Ansermet, cond; Teresa Stich-Randall (sop);
Gérard Souzay (bar);
Union Chorale de la Tour-de-Peilz; Suisse Romande O
CASCAVELLE VEL 3135, mono (60:54) Live: Geneva
This CD will be primarily of interest to admirers of Ansermet, many of whose recordings have recently been restored to circulation on Decca Eloquence releases, or of soprano Teresa Stich-Randall. That is not to say that it does not have intrinsic merits otherwise. However, aside from avid collectors, those who wish to hear Ansermet’s approach to Fauré’s Requiem—an old-fashioned, big-boned, beefy rendition of the 1901 version for full orchestra—are more likely to turn to his 1955 studio recording, made with identical forces except for Suzanne Danco in place of Stich-Randall. That single alteration is of minor importance, as both sopranos were fine artists and possessed somewhat similar voices. That said, while Gérard Souzay is intelligent and elegant as always, Stich-Randall is positively exquisite and ravishing, belying her reputation for being interpretively a bit cool. The chorus and orchestra make a grand noise, if sometimes diffuse and unfocused, with the minor ensemble problems often noted of the orchestra at that time.
Of greater interest are the Strauss songs, as neither Ansermet nor Stich-Randall recorded those elsewhere. Stich-Randall was of course an experienced Straussian as the Sophie of the classic 1956 EMI recording under Karajan of
. Here she takes on a somewhat heavier vocal assignment in direct competition with her EMI Marschallin, Elisabeth Schwarzkopf; she does so with honor and does not suffer by comparison, which is a high tribute indeed. One might argue that her voice is a shade too light for this music, but the ear quickly adjusts as she sings superbly, and Ansermet conducts with nuance and sensitivity in repertoire seldom associated with him. Both performances are preserved in fairly clear and quite acceptable monaural recordings, free from dropouts, crackle, hiss, rumble, and similar defects; the sound in the Strauss is somewhat more recessed than in the Fauré. No texts are provided for either work; the booklet contains only a brief essay on the conductor and orchestra. Recommended, then, particularly for the Strauss songs.
FANFARE: James A. Altena
Works on This Recording
Requiem, Op. 48 by Gabriel Fauré
Teresa Stich-Randall (Soprano),
Gérard Souzay (Baritone)
Suisse Romande Orchestra,
Union Chorale de la Tour-de-Peilz
Written: 1887-1890; France
Date of Recording: 02/20/1957
Venue: Victoria Hall, Genève
Length: 38 Minutes 38 Secs.
Four Last Songs, AV 150 by Richard Strauss
Teresa Stich-Randall (Soprano)
Suisse Romande Orchestra
Written: 1948; Germany
Date of Recording: 05/17/1961
Venue: Victoria Hall, Genève
Length: 20 Minutes 9 Secs.
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