Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Music Webmaster
Len Mullenger:

42 songs in orchestral arrangements
VANGUARD CLASSICS OVC 8058/9 [70.02+66.08]

This is somewhat outside my usual field. I was tempted into this material by Davrath's lissom voice. She is of course the singer the prime and unmissable collection of Canteloube songs (available in a two disc set from Vanguard). Her voice is tender, strong, nasal, arch, shy, abandoned, free from vibrato, pure and clean and distinctly un-operatic. She has that platinum quality of voice that is unsophisticated and girlishly innocent. Going by track record this is not something that can be taught. You either have it or you don't. Davrath's facility in eight languages undoubtedly aids her interpretations which are always intelligent and which do not give the impression of being phonetically acquired.

There are 13 Russian songs, 15 Yiddish and 14 Israeli. The origins tie in with the singer's life travels: born in Ukraine, moved to Caucasus, the to Israel. There is too much territory to cover so let me single out The Birch Tree (the theme used in Tchaikovsky 4), Moscow Nights (Dr Zhivago), Chassidic Melody with its catchy refrain, Es Brent, a lament for scorched earth, touching in Reizele and Viglied.

Robert deCormier is the conductor and arranger of the Russian and Yiddish folksongs. There are various arrangers for the Israeli songs and a single conductor Josef Leo Gruber. Some of the arrangements are less than sensitive but then again you encounter poetic and far from obvious treatment as in the Hinach Yafa as prepared by Y Admon. The smile in Davrath's voice is in heart-warming evidence in Ad Shefayu'ach Yom.

The Russian songs are arranged with accordion and balalaika to the fore. The Yiddish songs make fuller use of the orchestra which as in the case of the peerless Canteloube set remains anonymous - presumably a pick-up band. Perhaps someone can throw some light on the musicians involved in the NYC and Vienna sessions?

The tracks were recorded between Nov 1959 and May 1962 in New York City and Vienna. Davrath is intimately balanced as against the instrumentalists. Her voice can stand this very easily.

A splendid and generous collection or all admirers of Davrath's art and the crystal stream of folk music. Hearing these songs one is struck again by the tragedy that Davrath did not go on to record Canteloube's voluminous settings of folksongs from all over the world. Maria Bayo has a touch of the Davrath in her voice and I hope that she might be tempted to filling the aching void left by Davrath.


Rob Barnett


Rob Barnett

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