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Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

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Maggie TEYTE
French Songs & Arias

THOMAS

Mignon, Act I: "Connais-tu le pays?"

DUPARC

"L'invitation au voyage"

RAVEL

Histories naturelles, No. 4, "Le martin pêcheur"
Deux épigrammes de Clément Marot, No. 2,
"D'Anne jouant de l'espinnette"

HAHN

Mozart, Act I, "Entre adoré"
Mozart, Act III, "L'adieu"
Ciboulette, Act I, "Ce n'était pas la même chose"
"Belle lune d'argent"

CHAUSSON

Sept mélodies, Op. 2, No. 2
"Les Papillons"
Poéme de l'amour et de la mer, Op. 9, No. 3
"Les temps des lilas"

DEBUSSY

Pelléas et Mélisande, Act I/ii: "Voici ce qu'il a écrit á son frère Pelléas... Qu'en dites-vous!"
Pelléas et Mélisande, Act IV/iii: "Tu ne sais pas pourquoi il faut que je m'éloigne...Si, si; je suis heureuse, mais je suis triste"
Prose lyriques, No. 1: "De rêve"
Prose lyriques, No. 3: "De fleurs"
Prose lyriques, No. 4: "De soir"
Cinq poèmes de Baudelaire, No. 3: "Le jet d'eau"

DUPARC
: "L'invitation au voyage"
MOZART
: Le Nozze di Figaro, Act II, "Voi che sapete"
Maggie Teyte
Recorded 1940-1947 ADD
NAXOS HISTORICAL - GREAT SINGERS 8.110147
[66:31]
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The chief interest in this recording is the repertory - largely a fine collection of French songs and opera arias. Maggie Teyte had a fine career before the Second World War and gained her fame with her recitals and recordings of the French repertory. For those not around during this time, it is necessary to remember that most operas were performed in the language of the country of performance. Even Wagner was translated and sung in English in the pre-WWII years. Very little Elgar or Vaughan Williams ever crossed to the Continent and, correspondingly, performances in England of French songs were rare at that time. Most singers could not easily sing in several languages as is usual with the major stars of today.

I find Teyte's voice to be lacking any remarkable warmth and sheen on this disk and wonder that there are so many more remarkable voices waiting to be reissued from the old recordings of the pre-war period. I am even troubled by her "school-girl French" style of pronunciation. Her inability to sound French words with the soft palate of a native speaker is not found in many in the post-war generations like Felicity Lott, Heather Harper, Jessye Norman and Beverly Sills, who all have recorded French opera and songs with success and convincing diction.

Maggie Teyte was born in Wolverhampton in 1888 and changed her name from Tate when her career in France began to gather steam. She knew many of the composers here and sang Pelléas et Mélisande under Debussy's guidance. The pianist here is the young Gerald Moore and the arias by Thomas and Mozart are accompanied by Pierre Monteux and the San Francisco Symphony.

As a critic, I am unsatisfied listening to this voice, but as a music lover, I find wonderful treasures of the French repertory here. Two arias from Reynaldo Hahn's opera Mozart are delicious, as are the four songs of Debussy and the two of Chausson. If nothing else this disc has the effect of enticing the listener to want to explore this territory further.


Frank Cadenhead




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