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Joan Sutherland: A Portrait

Sutherland,Joan
Release Date: 03/13/2012 
Label:  Regis   Catalog #: 3013   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  George Frideric HandelGiuseppe VerdiVincenzo BelliniCharles Gounod,   ... 
Performer:  Dame Joan SutherlandPeter PearsOwen BranniganGeorge Malcolm
Conductor:  Sir Adrian BoultAnthony Lewis
Number of Discs: 3 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 2 Hours 52 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

By any standards these recordings are amazing.

This set documents the brilliance and fluency of the young Joan Sutherland’s performances. All made in the period 1959/61 when the singer was in her early thirties, they show what an outstanding technique she combined with the famous evenness of tone all the way through the voice. Granted, there is nothing here to match the vividness, acuity and range of colour that Callas brought to these roles. Then again, Sutherland mercifully lacks Callas’s hollow tone and struggle to master her voice.
 
What is remarkable about the excerpts from Acis and Galatea is how acceptable they are to a modern ear, though we still get the very solid, pure legato
Read more classical string tone. Sutherland’s diction is exemplary for its clarity, In fact that is true of most pieces in this set. Few suffer from the oddly occluded diction that pervaded her recordings later on.
 
Boult’s speeds are quite acceptable, so we get a Galatea of great lyric beauty and technical freedom. Peter Pears’ Acis is not in the same class, but he brings his customary intelligence to the role. Owen Brannigan was sui generis as Polyphemus even though, here, we don’t get O ruddier than the cherry.
 
The excerpts from Messiah are done in a similar style and are generally classy; Boult used a new edition which did away with the later additions to the score. However I know that my redeemer liveth is done at a rather slow tempo with Sutherland extruding the tone in a manner which verges on the lugubrious. Her ornamentation is rather lavish, but her trills are superb.
 
Many of Handel’s operas were written for the finest singers of the day. With Sutherland’s account of Alcina we get one of the 20 th century’s finest vocalists in a role which suited her. These two arias are recorded with Sir Anthony Lewis, rather than from the later Richard Bonynge recording. Lewis opts for stylistically more correct speeds than Bonynge and Sutherland is at her freshest and most winning.
 
The Handel disc concludes with an account of Sutherland in Let the Bright Seraphim which is, I think, the one from The Art of the Prima Donna.
 
One of the frustrations of this set is that the documentation as to what the tracks are is very scanty. The notes say that the third disc in the set consists of excerpts from The Art of the Prima Donna, but gives no source for the second disc, Sutherland singing Verdi and Bellini, though these too appear to be from the same origin. For some reason, Regis has decided to deconstruct the arias from The Art of the Prima Donna so that CD 2 has Verdi and Bellini and CD 3 everything else except Handel. Such things might niggle, but mean that on the second CD we can concentrate on Sutherland singing Verdi and Bellini.
 
For me, one the advantages of hearing these discs is that the conductor isn’t Richard Bonynge. As far as Sutherland is concerned there is a wonderful freshness and attack about everything, a glorious fluidity and facility. Her excerpts from I Puritani and La Sonnambula are suitably light, but there is a depth and darkness as well to the Norma and to the Verdi singing.
 
In The Willow Song and in one or two other moments in the Verdi extracts there are hints of the spinto Sutherland, the sort of singer she might have developed into if the famous Lucia had been followed by Lady Macbeth - as Tullio Serafin wanted.
 
On the last disc, Mozart’s Marten aller Arten is the least successful item, but that is on an absolute scale; by any standards these recordings are amazing. In fact, listening to them is a trifle depressing because Sutherland never did anything quite as good again. On an aria by aria basis, many here are preferable to the ones on later issues.
 
There is not only technical facility here. Sutherland varies colour and tone so that each item is characteristically shaded and affected. One could listen for hours to the trills, staccatos and scales in The Jewel Song; but this is also a very real Marguerite.
 
If you have only one Sutherland recording, then you must have The Art of the Prima Donna. If you don’t have a Sutherland recording, then you must have The Art of the Prima Donna. If you buy The Art of the Prima Donna then you get words and a good pair of articles in the CD booklet. If you buy this set, you get rather poorer documentation with no words and just a single article, but you also get substantial excerpts of Sutherland singing Handel. The choice is yours.  

-- Robert Hugill, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

1.
Acis and Galatea, HWV 49: Ye verdant plains by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Dame Joan Sutherland ()
Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1718 
Length: 1 Minutes 1 Secs. 
2.
Acis and Galatea, HWV 49: Hush, ye pretty warbling quirel by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Dame Joan Sutherland ()
Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1718/1736; London, England 
Length: 4 Minutes 29 Secs. 
3.
Acis and Galatea, HWV 49: Oh, didst thou know the pains by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Dame Joan Sutherland ()
Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1718 
Length: 0 Minutes 25 Secs. 
4.
Acis and Galatea, HWV 49: As when the dove laments her love by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Dame Joan Sutherland ()
Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
Period: Baroque 
Length: 4 Minutes 54 Secs. 
5.
Acis and Galatea, HWV 49: Happy we by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Dame Joan Sutherland (), Peter Pears ()
Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1718 
Length: 2 Minutes 44 Secs. 
6.
Acis and Galatea, HWV 49: Cease, o cease, thou gentle youth by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Dame Joan Sutherland ()
Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1718 
Length: 0 Minutes 38 Secs. 
7.
Acis and Galatea, HWV 49: The flocks shall leave the mountain by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Owen Brannigan (), Peter Pears (), Dame Joan Sutherland ()
Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1718 
Length: 2 Minutes 35 Secs. 
8.
Acis and Galatea, HWV 49: Must I my Acis still bemoan by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Dame Joan Sutherland ()
Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
Period: Baroque 
Length: 4 Minutes 30 Secs. 
9.
Acis and Galatea, HWV 49: 'Tis done: thus I exert my pow'r divine by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Dame Joan Sutherland ()
Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1718 
Length: 0 Minutes 30 Secs. 
10.
Acis and Galatea, HWV 49: Heart, the seat of soft delight by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Dame Joan Sutherland ()
Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1718/1736; London, England 
Length: 3 Minutes 58 Secs. 
11.
Acis and Galatea, HWV 49: Galatea, dry thy tears by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Dame Joan Sutherland ()
Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1718/1736; London, England 
Length: 3 Minutes 4 Secs. 
12.
The Messiah: Air: Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Dame Joan Sutherland (), George Malcolm (Harpsichord)
Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1741; England 
Length: 4 Minutes 42 Secs. 
13.
The Messiah: Air: How beautiful are the feet by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Dame Joan Sutherland (), George Malcolm (Harpsichord)
Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1741; England 
Length: 2 Minutes 40 Secs. 
14.
The Messiah: Air: I know that my redeemer liveth by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  George Malcolm (Harpsichord), Dame Joan Sutherland ()
Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1741; England 
Length: 7 Minutes 9 Secs. 
15.
The Messiah: Air: If God be for us by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Dame Joan Sutherland (), George Malcolm (Harpsichord)
Conductor:  Sir Adrian Boult
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1741; England 
Length: 4 Minutes 52 Secs. 
16.
Alcina, HWV 34: Tornami a vagheggiar by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Dame Joan Sutherland ()
Conductor:  Anthony Lewis
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1735; London, England 
Length: 5 Minutes 13 Secs. 
17.
Alcina, HWV 34: Ombre pallide by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Dame Joan Sutherland ()
Conductor:  Anthony Lewis
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1735; London, England 
Length: 10 Minutes 46 Secs. 
18.
Samson, HWV 57: Let the bright Seraphim by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Dame Joan Sutherland ()
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1743; London, England 
Length: 5 Minutes 57 Secs. 
19.
Otello: Piangea cantando "Willow Song" by Giuseppe Verdi
Performer:  Dame Joan Sutherland ()
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1887; Italy 
Length: 8 Minutes 5 Secs. 
20.
La traviata: Ah, fors' è lui...Sempre libera by Giuseppe Verdi
Performer:  Dame Joan Sutherland ()
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1853; Italy 
Length: 6 Minutes 44 Secs. 
21.
Rigoletto: Caro nome by Giuseppe Verdi
Performer:  Dame Joan Sutherland ()
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1851; Italy 
Length: 6 Minutes 13 Secs. 
22.
Norma: Casta diva by Vincenzo Bellini
Performer:  Dame Joan Sutherland ()
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1831; Italy 
Length: 12 Minutes 46 Secs. 
23.
I puritani: Son vergin vezzosa "Polacca" by Vincenzo Bellini
Performer:  Dame Joan Sutherland ()
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1835; Italy 
Length: 3 Minutes 5 Secs. 
24.
I puritani: Qui la voce sua soave by Vincenzo Bellini
Performer:  Dame Joan Sutherland ()
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1835; Italy 
Length: 6 Minutes 59 Secs. 
25.
La sonnambula: Come per me sereno...Sovra il sen by Vincenzo Bellini
Performer:  Dame Joan Sutherland ()
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1831; Italy 
Length: 8 Minutes 29 Secs. 
26.
Roméo et Juliette: Je veux vivre dans le rêve "Waltz Song" by Charles Gounod
Performer:  Dame Joan Sutherland ()
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1867; France 
Length: 3 Minutes 27 Secs. 
27.
Les Huguenots: O beau pays de la Touraine by Giacomo Meyerbeer
Performer:  Dame Joan Sutherland ()
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1836; Germany 
Length: 5 Minutes 40 Secs. 
28.
Semiramide: Bel raggio lusinghier by Gioachino Rossini
Performer:  Dame Joan Sutherland ()
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1823; Italy 
Length: 6 Minutes 36 Secs. 
29.
Faust: Ah! je ris de me voir si belle "Jewel Song" by Charles Gounod
Performer:  Dame Joan Sutherland ()
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1859; France 
Length: 4 Minutes 35 Secs. 
30.
Hamlet: A vos jeux "Mad Scene" by Ambroise Thomas
Performer:  Dame Joan Sutherland ()
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1868; France 
Length: 8 Minutes 52 Secs. 
31.
Die Entführung aus dem Serail: Marten aller Arten by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Dame Joan Sutherland ()
Period: Classical 
Written: 1782 
Length: 8 Minutes 43 Secs. 
32.
Lakmé: Où va la jeune indoue? "Bell Song" by Léo Delibes
Performer:  Dame Joan Sutherland ()
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1883; France 
Length: 7 Minutes 50 Secs. 
33.
Artaxerxes: The soldier tir'd of war's alarms by Thomas Augustine Arne
Performer:  Dame Joan Sutherland ()
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1762/1777; England 
Length: 4 Minutes 1 Secs. 

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