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Joan Sutherland: Rare Broadcasts

Release Date: 08/14/2012 
Label:  Musical Concepts   Catalog #: 1185   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Gaetano DonizettiGioachino RossiniGiovanni BononciniCharles Edward Horn,   ... 
Performer:  Dame Joan SutherlandApril CanteloRichard BonyngeErnest Lush,   ... 
Conductor:  John PritchardFerdinand LeitnerSir Charles MackerrasAlberto Erede
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Liverpool Philharmonic OrchestraCappella Coloniensis
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 19 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This issue brings some highly enjoyable performances to our attention. It also provides an opportunity to reconsider that much-misunderstood vocal Fach, the dramatic coloratura soprano.

The Italian description soprano drammatica d'agilità - literally "dramatic soprano of agility" - connotes a "dramatic" voice, possibly of Verdian or Wagnerian amplitude, with exceptional flexibility and an upward extension. The English term, critically, displaces the emphasis from "dramatic" to "coloratura", so that any tweety-bird - er, leggiero soprano - with ambitions imagines that she can project, or perhaps force, her voice into Norma, Anna Bolena, and other large-framed roles.
Read more /> As a house singer at Covent Garden, the young Joan Sutherland was treated as a Dramatic Soprano, assigned to roles as diverse as Aïda, Agathe and Micaëla while the management tried to figure out what to do with her, with the Siegfried Woodbird representing a baby step into Wagner. It was her husband, coach and mentor, Richard Bonynge, who perceived the voice's potential for flexibility and shepherded it accordingly.

The lively, refreshing Exsultate, jubilate, a piece Sutherland didn't record commercially, shows us the capabilities of this kind of voice. The piece has received many fine recordings - that by the under-heralded Edith Mathis (DG) remains one of my favorites - but you rarely hear it sung so easily and freely, or with such bright, clear, full-bodied tone. Nor is the singing merely mechanical, or inexpressive. The phrasing is deft and shapely in the outer movements - even if the hop-skip-and-a-jump through the first-movement cadenza incongruously suggests Tales of Hoffmann's Olympia! - and the central Tu virginum corona is serene. Alberto Erede's affectionate big-orchestra framework affords Sutherland solid cantabile support.

The scene and aria Se ti perdo is good to have, even if scholarship now questions its attribution to Haydn. Sutherland is urgent in the recitative, responsive to its rapidly shifting emotions, and her rendering of the aria proper is, by turns, stately and incisive, as is Mackerras's conducting. I'm not sure why Dennis Brain is given solo billing, however: I didn't hear any conspicuous horn solo, though there's a duet phrase or two in the introduction.

The Handel and Donizetti selections hew closer to Sutherland's central repertoire. The soprano recorded Alcina in the studio for Decca, but these broadcast excerpts gain in spontaneity. The dignified Di, cor mio brings the occasional droopy attack or slightly covered vowel; Tornami a vagheggiar is poised and lilting, no small feat. Fans of Procter and Hemsley should note that their participation is limited to a few lines in the first recitative.

The two arias from Emilia di Liverpool - that title sounds like a put-on, but it's not - sound very different: the first, despite the fresh, youthful timbre, hints at more mature tonal and interpretive depths to come; the second, more decorative piece sounds brighter, a bit less energized, but charmingly bell-like. Pritchard's conducting is energetic and supportive, if a bit slapdash in tutti.

Turning to the songs, La fiorala Fiorentina, with its pitch waver in the piano, may remind you of an old acoustic recording. The other recordings are steadier, though the songs themselves still have an old-fashioned, salonish quality. For whatever reason, these more intimate pieces seem to encourage the more occluded vowel qualities that would later make Sutherland a critical target - the elephant in the room, if you've read this far. Suffice to say that, in this program, I don't find her any less intelligible than most opera singers. The perky, harpsichord-accompanied Cherry Ripe rounds off the program pleasingly.

The sound is variable, and sometimes remarkably good. The Mozart is particularly clear and fresh, and the orchestra sounds rich. A bit of granulose distortion gets into the Haydn, and there's some breakup in Donizetti's tuttis. In the piano-accompanied selections, the instrument sounds tubby unless you cut the volume.

-- Stephen Francis Vasta, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

Emilia di Liverpool: Ah, Dì contento by Gaetano Donizetti
Performer:  Dame Joan Sutherland (), April Cantelo (Voice)
Conductor:  John Pritchard
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1824; Italy 
Date of Recording: 1957 
Length: 5 Minutes 4 Secs. 
Emilia di Liverpool: Confusa è l'alma mia by Gaetano Donizetti
Performer:  Dame Joan Sutherland ()
Conductor:  John Pritchard
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1824; Italy 
Date of Recording: 1957 
Length: 6 Minutes 45 Secs. 
Péchés de vieillesse, Volume 1 "Album italiano": no 5, La fioraja fiorentina by Gioachino Rossini
Performer:  Dame Joan Sutherland (), Richard Bonynge (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1857-1868; Italy 
Date of Recording: 1957 
Length: 3 Minutes 40 Secs. 
Soirées musicales: Canzonetta: La promessa by Gioachino Rossini
Performer:  Richard Bonynge (Piano), Dame Joan Sutherland ()
Period: Romantic 
Written: circa 1830-1835; Italy 
Date of Recording: 1960 
Length: 3 Minutes 21 Secs. 
Soirées musicales: Arietta: L'orgia by Gioachino Rossini
Performer:  Dame Joan Sutherland (), Ernest Lush (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: circa 1830-1835; Italy 
Date of Recording: 1958 
Length: 3 Minutes 27 Secs. 
Soirées musicales: Tirolese: La pastorella dell'Alpi by Gioachino Rossini
Performer:  Richard Bonynge (Piano), Dame Joan Sutherland ()
Period: Romantic 
Written: circa 1830-1835; Italy 
Date of Recording: 1960 
Length: 2 Minutes 13 Secs. 
Soirées musicales: Barcorola: La gita in gondola by Gioachino Rossini
Performer:  Richard Bonynge (Piano), Dame Joan Sutherland ()
Period: Romantic 
Written: circa 1830-1835; Italy 
Date of Recording: 1960 
Length: 2 Minutes 58 Secs. 
Griselda: Per la gloria by Giovanni Bononcini
Performer:  Dame Joan Sutherland (), Richard Bonynge (Piano)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1722; London, England 
Date of Recording: 1961 
Length: 4 Minutes 51 Secs. 
Cherry Ripe, aria by Charles Edward Horn
Performer:  Dame Joan Sutherland (), Richard Bonynge (Harpsichord)
Period: Romantic 
Written: circa 1826 
Date of Recording: 1960 
Length: 1 Minutes 53 Secs. 
Alcina, HWV 34 by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Norma Procter (Voice), Thomas Hemsley (Voice), Dame Joan Sutherland ()
Conductor:  Ferdinand Leitner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cappella Coloniensis
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1735; London, England 
Date of Recording: 1959 
Length: 7 Minutes 29 Secs. 
Se ti perdo by Franz Joseph Haydn
Performer:  Dennis Brain (Horn), Dame Joan Sutherland ()
Conductor:  Sir Charles Mackerras
Period: Classical 
Date of Recording: 1956 
Length: 10 Minutes 59 Secs. 
Exsultate jubilate, K 165 (158a) by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Dame Joan Sutherland ()
Conductor:  Alberto Erede
Period: Classical 
Written: 1773; Milan, Italy 
Date of Recording: 1959 
Length: 14 Minutes 35 Secs. 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 The Young La Stupenda  November 13, 2012 By Bill W. (Maple Valley, WA) See All My Reviews "This recording collects some of the finest early recordings that Joan Sutherland made. The voice is young and fresh (though the diction is less than great) and pure bel canto. The upper register is simply beautiful, a pure delight. Although they are collected from live broadcast recordings, the sound quality is quite good. If you have never heard the young Sutherland's almost flawless voice, then you must listen to this recording." Report Abuse
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