WGBH Radio WGBH Radio theclassicalstation.org

Lebendige Vergangenheit: Jeanne Gerville-reache

Gluck / Verdi / Bizet / Gerville-reache
Release Date: 12/14/2010 
Label:  Preiser Records   Catalog #: 89737   Spars Code: AAD 
Composer:  Giuseppe VerdiCharles GounodGeorges BizetCamille Saint-Saëns,   ... 
Performer:  Jeanne Gerville-RéacheCharles Cahier
Conductor:  Nils Grevillius
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 17 Mins. 

In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  
On sale! $22.98
CD:  $18.99
In Stock



Notes and Editorial Reviews



JEANNE GERVILLE-RÉACHE Jeanne Gerville-Réache (a); Mme. Charles Cahier (ms 2 ); Nils Grevillius, cond; Stockholm Royal Op O; unidentified pn PREISER 89737, mono (77:29)


Selections by GLUCK, VERDI, GOUNOD, BIZET, SAINT-SAËNS, MASSENET, MASSÉ, GODARD, DEBUSSY, HAHN, SCHUMANN, CHAMINADE, DONIZETTI, 2 MEYERBEER, Read more class="SUPER12">2 MARTINI


The career of Jeanne Gerville-Réache (1882–1915) was over too soon. Much was expected of her. The great singer and vocal teacher Pauline Viardot-Garcia not only brought Gerville-Réache’s father, a noted diplomat, around to accepting his daughter’s choice of career, but arranged for her 1899 debut as Orpheus in Gluck’s opera. It didn’t take long for the young contralto’s voice and dramatic temperament to make themselves known, as less then three years later she created the role of Geneviève in the premiere of Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande . Gerville-Réache was celebrated wherever she subsequently performed, and received sterling critical notices to complement her high salaries. But after a sensational 1903/04 season at the Monnaie in Brussels in which she sang Carmen, Dalila, Orpheus, and Fidès, she never returned, and despite a single, much-heralded performance at Covent Garden, there were no more at that venue. She never seems to have capitalized on her successes, and a close reading of her numerous remarks in press clips shows that she was both very self-assured and delightfully forthright in the expression of her views. She referred to the disgust expressed by other singers at the institution of the claque (paid applauders) as “sanctimonious dissembling,” and broke publicly with the Manhattan Opera’s impresario, Oscar Hammerstein, after some disparaging remarks of his were reported, stating to the press that she and others knew “by experience what may be expected from anyone enjoying a thorough lack of education and breeding.” If she took a peremptory tone behind the scenes in contract negotiations, it’s no wonder her engagements were many, triumphant, and brief, before her tragically early death.


Fortunately, she left a handful of recordings, 19 in all, made for Victor in the years 1909–13. All but three are included, here, two having vanished (one of them never published), and one being an alternate take. The results justify the acclaim. First, there’s the voice: black satin, sleek rather than maternal, as her characterful aria from Massé’s Paul et Virginie shows, with a taut vibrato, and a tightly focused, surprisingly bright top. It is strongly supported, too, with the high Es that open “Va! Laisse couler mes larmes” from Werther tossed off effortlessly, followed by a perfect diminuendo from F to D. The opening of La Reine de Saba ’s “Plus grand, dans son obscurité” is treacherous, with its leaps throughout the range of the voice, taken at a moderate pace, with soft orchestral backing, exposing any vocal flaws—except here, where Gerville-Réache has none to display. It is one of her most astonishing records for technique. If she sang like this on stage, as the reviews of the time seem to indicate, it’s no wonder she felt justified in making such demands upon management.


One of her less-effective recordings is “J’ai perdu mon Eurydice.” It was a signature role of hers, but as one might expect, stylistic changes of approach over time have taken the luster off all early recordings of this ever-so-popular piece. What’s notable about Gerville-Réache’s version are her clarity of enunciation, and Bernhardt manner. There is genuine feeling in it, not generalized, but parsed according to the words, and the music. That its expression is so externalized is part of the theater of her day, but it shouldn’t blind us to her skill. It’s there as well, and to far greater effect, in the Card Scene from Carmen . Hers is a Gypsy who feels the full weight of bitter revelation with every line, but the interpretative strength never gets in the way of the inexorable forward movement of the music.


To fill the disc out, Preiser includes six records by contralto and pedagogue Madame Charles Cahier (1870–1951). Made for HMV in 1928 at the age of 57, they understandably do not show her to best advantage. There’s a slightly threadbare quality in the lower range, a lack of full chest resonance, and a tremulousness on held notes; but the top is secure, the enunciation is excellent, and her understanding of bel canto unimpaired. Cahier’s “O mon Fernand” is a triumph of style and intellect over voice. “Sally in Our Alley” might seem a surprising choice for her at that stage of her career; and there are some intonational difficulties, as well as a formal manner foreign to modern understanding. But there’s also tonal purity, a lightness that’s engaging, and a fine turn on “And she lives in our alley” that disarms.


Preiser’s de-clicking and side equalization are immaculate. There’s no thumping or off-center swinging to any of these selections, with filtering minimal in the upper treble range. The Cahier is icing on the cake, as this release is fully worth it for Gerville-Réache—who would probably have replied to such a comment with, “Of course. Why would you expect otherwise?”


FANFARE: Barry Brenesal
Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Il trovatore: Stride la vampa! by Giuseppe Verdi
Performer:  Jeanne Gerville-Réache (Alto)
Date of Recording: 10/29/1909 
Length: 3 Minutes 2 Secs. 
2.
Sapho: O ma lyre immortelle by Charles Gounod
Performer:  Jeanne Gerville-Réache (Alto)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1851; France 
Date of Recording: 04/29/1909 
Length: 4 Minutes 4 Secs. 
3.
La reine de Saba: Plus grand, dans son obscurité by Charles Gounod
Performer:  Jeanne Gerville-Réache (Alto)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1861-1862; France 
Date of Recording: 10/30/1909 
Length: 4 Minutes 8 Secs. 
4.
Carmen: L'amour est un oiseau rebelle "Habañera" by Georges Bizet
Performer:  Charles Cahier (Voice)
Conductor:  Nils Grevillius
Written: 1873-1874 
Date of Recording: 09/20/1928 
Length: 3 Minutes 15 Secs. 
5.
Carmen: En vain pour éviter les réponses amères "Card Aria" by Georges Bizet
Performer:  Jeanne Gerville-Réache (Alto)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1873-1874; France 
Date of Recording: 10/30/1909 
Length: 2 Minutes 22 Secs. 
6.
Samson et Dalila, Op. 47: Printemps, qui commence by Camille Saint-Saëns
Performer:  Jeanne Gerville-Réache (Alto)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1877; France 
Date of Recording: 04/12/1909 
Length: 4 Minutes 0 Secs. 
7.
Samson et Dalila, Op. 47: Amour, viens aider ma faiblesse by Camille Saint-Saëns
Performer:  Jeanne Gerville-Réache (Alto)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1877; France 
Date of Recording: 11/19/1913 
Length: 3 Minutes 43 Secs. 
8.
Samson et Dalila, Op. 47: Mon coeur s'ouvre à ta voix by Camille Saint-Saëns
Performer:  Jeanne Gerville-Réache (Alto)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1877; France 
Date of Recording: 04/29/1909 
Length: 3 Minutes 5 Secs. 
9.
Werther: Va! laisse couler mes larmes by Jules Massenet
Performer:  Jeanne Gerville-Réache (Alto)
Period: Post-Romantic 
Written: France 
Date of Recording: 04/29/1909 
Length: 2 Minutes 30 Secs. 
10.
Paul et Virginie: Parmi les lianes au fond des savanes by Victor Massé
Performer:  Jeanne Gerville-Réache (Alto)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1876; France 
Date of Recording: 05/05/1911 
Length: 3 Minutes 46 Secs. 
11.
La vivandière: Viens avec nous, petit by Benjamin Godard
Performer:  Jeanne Gerville-Réache (Alto)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1895; France 
Date of Recording: 05/05/1911 
Length: 2 Minutes 36 Secs. 
12.
L'enfant prodigue: Azaël! Azaël! Pourquoi m'as tu quittée? by Claude Debussy
Performer:  Jeanne Gerville-Réache (Alto)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1884/1908; France 
Date of Recording: 05/05/1911 
Length: 4 Minutes 15 Secs. 
13.
Dichterliebe, Op. 48: no 7, Ich grolle nicht by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Jeanne Gerville-Réache (Alto)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1840; Germany 
Date of Recording: 05/05/1911 
Length: 2 Minutes 44 Secs. 
14.
La Favorita: O mio Fernando by Gaetano Donizetti
Performer:  Charles Cahier (Voice)
Conductor:  Nils Grevillius
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1840; Italy 
Date of Recording: 09/20/1928 
Length: 4 Minutes 19 Secs. 
15.
Le Prophète: Ah, mon fils! by Giacomo Meyerbeer
Performer:  Charles Cahier (Voice)
Conductor:  Nils Grevillius
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1849; Germany 
Date of Recording: 09/20/1928 
Length: 4 Minutes 33 Secs. 
16.
Menuet by Johann Paul A. Martini
Performer:  Charles Cahier (Voice)
Period: Classical 
Written: 18th Century; France 
Date of Recording: 09/21/1928 
Length: 3 Minutes 15 Secs. 
17.
Sally in our Alley by Traditional
Performer:  Charles Cahier (Voice)
Written: England 
Date of Recording: 09/21/1928 
Length: 3 Minutes 19 Secs. 
18.
Swing low, sweet chariot by Traditional
Performer:  Charles Cahier (Voice)
Date of Recording: 09/21/1928 
Length: 3 Minutes 1 Secs. 
19.
Orfeo ed Euridice: Che farò senza Euridice? by Christoph W. Gluck
Period: Classical 
Written: 1762/1774; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 04/29/1909 
Length: 4 Minutes 30 Secs. 
20.
Chanson Slave by Cécile Louise Chaminade
Period: Romantic 
Date of Recording: 10/30/1909 
Length: 3 Minutes 15 Secs. 
21.
Mélodies (20), Volume 1: D'une prison by Reynaldo Hahn
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1892; France 
Date of Recording: 05/05/1911 
Length: 3 Minutes 33 Secs. 

Customer Reviews

Be the first to review this title
Review This Title
Review This Title Share on Facebook




YOU MUST BE A SUBSCRIBER TO LISTEN - TRY IT FREE!
Listen to all your favorite classical music for only $20/month.
Sign up for your monthly subscription service and get unlimited access to the most comprehensive digital catalog of classical music in the world - new releases. bestsellers, advanced releases and more.
Aleady a subscriber? Sign In