This is one of the first releases in Decca’s new series,
The Singers, and it celebrates the art of the distinguished Belgian
soprano, Suzanne Danco (1911-2000).
This CD is graced by a typically informative and well-balanced
note by Alan Blyth. It is worth quoting a couple of his comments. He
describes Danco as: "Elegant, cool and – paradoxically – at the
same time passionate; technically accomplished and a mistress of pointed
diction and immaculate phrasing." He also recalls a comment by
Suzanne Danco that "she always loved whatever she was singing at
a given moment in time." Anyone listening to this collection will
find that these comments are faithfully reflected during every minute
that the disc plays.
The recital is divided between opera and recital. The
Purcell is, to my ears, too slow but Danco spins an exquisite line,
completely at ease with the tempo. If elegance was the hallmark of her
Purcell, and the later Mozart items, she is all fire and drama in the
excerpt from Alceste: a commanding performance. In the Verdi
I can only concur with Alan Blyth’s reference to "sovereign phrasing".
He notes an absence of Italianate warmth and I bow to his huge experience
though I must say I still found Danco very convincing here.
In the three excerpts from nineteenth century French
opera Danco is very much on "home turf" and it shows. She
is a deeply affecting Manon and sings Michaela’s aria with a mixture
of ardour and pathos. All I will say about the excerpt from Louise
is that she sings it ravishingly.
I had not previously associated Suzanne Danco with
lieder but I enjoyed her Strauss group very much. She floats the line
of ‘Morgen’ exquisitely and sings ‘Standchen’ with an infectious charm
and gaiety. ‘Zueignung’ is built to an ecstatic climax and as for ‘Freundliche
Vision’, the simple eloquence of the performance made me replay the
The concluding Debussy songs are, quite simply, hors
concours. Danco is completely at home with the idiom and the language.
Debussy’s elusive and atmospheric songs are here conveyed with complete
conviction and understanding and with a wonderful variety of tonal colouring.
A marvellous account. In these songs, as in those by Strauss, Guido
Agosti provides excellent support.
The recorded sound is variable. Throughout the voice
is to the fore, particularly in the items with orchestra. Interestingly
the sound differs significantly between the two Mozart items even though
they were products of the same session. The sound in Come scoglio
is harsher and with a great deal more hiss; Voi che sapete
is much easier on the ears. In all the orchestral items the sound of
the upper strings and oboes in particular tends to be acidic and thin;
I’m sure this is due to the limitations of the recording equipment of
the day and does not do proper justice to the tonal qualities of the
Swiss orchestra in particular. In the songs the piano sound is rather
clangy in the upper registers.
The presentation of the CDs in this series includes
the usual printed booklet which gives a full track listing. Alan Blyth’s
essay is also printed. However, if you want the text and translations
these are only accessible by using the disc as a CD ROM (the texts can
be printed off). The CD ROM also includes a gallery of interesting photographs
and what seems to be a far from complete discography. All this is fine
for those with PCs but what about collectors without that facility?
Since this series is designed to pay tribute to some of the century’s
finest singers I hope Decca will consider making texts and translations
available also in the traditional format.
Absolutely no reservations about the recorded performances,
however. Suzanne Danco was a wonderful singer and this CD gives us another
chance to admire her range and artistry.