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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.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    


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Maggie Teyte (1888-1976): A Vocal Portrait
CD 1

Henry PURCELL (1659-1695)

King Arthur: Fairest Isle, The Libertine: Nymphs and Shepherds (01.08.1941) (1)
Giovanni Battista MARTINI (1706-1784)

Plaisir d’amour (16.01.1942) (1)
André-Ernest-Modeste GRÉTRY (1741-1813)

Le tableau parlant: Vous étiez ce que vous n’êtes plus (21.09.1946) (2)
Giovanni Battista PERGOLESI (1710-1736)

La serva padrona: Aria di Zerbina (in French) (21.09.1942) (2)
Hector BERLIOZ (1803-1869)

Nuits d’été: 2. Le spectre de la rose, 4. Absence (31.07.1940) (3)
Franz Liszt (1811-1886)

Oh! Quand je dors (26.10.1947) (1)
Piotr Ilych TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)

Tears, op. 65/5 (in French) (26.10.1947) (1)
Georges BIZET (1838-1975)

Chanson d’Avril (07.06.1943) (1)
Ernest CHAUSSON (1855-1899)

Le Colibri (07.06.1943) (1)
Jacques OFFENBACH (1819-1880)

La Périchole: Tu n’es pas beau ... Je t’adore brigand (22.09.1932) (4)
André MESSAGER (1853-1829)

Véronique: Petite dinde, ah quel outrage – Ma foi! Pour venir dr Provence (22.09.1932) (4)
Henri DUPARC (1848-1933)

Phidylé, L’invitation au voyage (31.07.1940) (3)
Joseph SZULC (1875-1956)

Clair de lune (22.08.1941) (1)
Henri de FONTENAILLES

Obstination (20.07.1944) (1)
Gabriel FAURÉ (1845-1924)

Après un rêve (26.03.1941), Nell (10.02.1943), Clair de lune (06.01.1942) (1)
Émile PALADILHE (1846-1926)

Psyché (26.03.1941)
Reynaldo HAHN (1874-1947)

L’heure exquise, Offrande (17.04.1941) (1), Si mes vers avaient des ailes (20.09.1932) (5)
CD 2

Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918)

Fêtes galantes I, Fêtes galantes II, Trois Chansons de Bilitis (12.03.1936) (6), Le Promenoir des duex amants (13.03.1936) (6), Proses lyriques: 2. De grève (13.03.1936) (6), Ariettes oubliées: 5. Green (17.04.1941) (1), Beau soir, Romance (10.02.1944) (1)
Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937)

Histoires naturelles: 4. Le martin-pêcheur, Deux épigrammes: 2. Anne jouant de l’espinette (05.10.1947) (1), Shéhérazade (12-13.07.1948) (7)
Sir Edward ELGAR (1857-1934)

Pleading (23.12.1941) (1)
Roger QUILTER (1877-1953)

Now sleeps the crimson petal (23.12.1941) (1)
Arthur Goring THOMAS (1850-1892)

Night hymn at sea (25.11.1941) (1, 8)
Kennedy RUSSELL (1883-1954)

By Appointment: White roses (10.1934) (4)
Sigmund ROMBERG (1887-1951)

The Student Prince: Deep in my heart dear (22.09.1932) (4)
Dame Maggie Teyte (soprano), Gerald Moore (piano) (1), Orchestra/Jean Paul Morel (2), London Symphony Orchestra/Leslie Heward (3), anonymous orchestra (4), George Reeves (piano) (5), Alfred Cortot (piano) (6), Royal Opera House Orchestra, Covent Garden/Hugo Rignold (7), John McCormack (tenor) (8)
Dates as above, locations not given
CD transfers by Ward Marston

NAXOS HISTORICAL 8.110757-58 [2 CDs 77:48, 75:39] [ADD]


As an introduction into the world of the great Maggie Teyte, this collection is near-faultless. The same could actually be said of Malcolm Walker’s liner notes, which clearly and succinctly fill in the background. This set acts as the perfect companion volume to ‘French Songs and Arias’ from the same label (see Robert McKechnie’s review elsewhere on this site: http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2001/Sept01/Teyte.htm).

Teyte made her first recordings in 1907 for The Gramophone Company. The tracks on this twofer date from 1932 through to 1948 and cover a wide range of repertoire. There are some real treasures here, not least when the accompanist is Mr Alfred Cortot, no less. Repertoire ranges from Purcell through to Romberg.

Teyte obviously had a good idea what suited her voice. Any reservations which the thought of two songs by Purcell brought, accompanied by the piano (even if it is Gerald Moore sitting at the keys) were brushed aside by Teyte’s musicality. Tribute should also be made here, as throughout the set, to the quality of the transfers, by the indefatigable Ward Marston. Lovely to hear every word, too!. The piano sound is remarkably well caught (these are 1941 recordings).

The first three tracks (two Purcell, one Martini) speak of the eloquent simplicity that Teyte is so capable of. The ‘Air de Zerbinetta’ from Pergolesi’s ‘La serva padrona’ (‘La servante maîtresse’) is further evidence of this, although Jean Paul Morel’s handling of the RCA Victor Orchestra could certainly display more finesse.

From here on, CD 1 takes on a distinctly more Romantic slant. The two songs from Berlioz’s Nuits d’été (recorded in 1940) suit her large range perfectly – just a pity the orchestra threatens to overwhelm her at the climactic moment of ‘Le spectre de la rose’. The magical harmonic progressions on ‘Reviens! Reviens!’ and following in ‘Absence’ are really very beautiful. It is very obvious that Teyte is on ‘home’ territory here.

Highlights of the first disc include a tender Tchaikovsky song (Les larmes, Gerald Moore the shadow-like pianist) which includes a fair amount of passion within its parameters and a truly beautiful account of Chausson’s Le Colibri.

The delicacy and utter understanding of the remaining tracks of the first disc make the purchase of the set worthwhile for these alone. Only (for me) the Offenbach outstays its welcome (and it only lasts 3’47!). Interesting that Naxos opted to close the first disc with the earliest item, a lovingly sculpted 1932 recording of Hahn’s Si mes vers avaient des ailes (and the only track to feature pianist George Reeves).

The second disc contains immense delight. The 1936 Debussy recordings (with Cortot) offer almost unparalleled concentration and sensitivité. Cortot brings out a wealth of shimmering colour from the piano, above and through which Teyte weaves her authentic spell. It really becomes difficult to isolate any example here, for to do so may seem to be unfair to any unmentioned items. All should be heard: perhaps ‘Le chèvelure’ (the second of the Chansons de Bilitis) offers the highlight, where everything seems to fall into place? I doubt everyone will agree with my choice, as there are so many aspects to Teyte’s art.

It is interesting that when we remain with Debussy but change pianist (to Gerald Moore), there is little to choose between the two accompanists. The recordings with Moore date from five years later and offer just as much to the listener.

The Ravel Shéhérazade excerpts (with the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden under Hugo Rignold) offer aural balm, the ‘indulgence’ of a real orchestra adding to this impression. All three are marvellously realised.

From the Elgar onwards, there is perhaps the feeling of anti-climax, with the Student Prince excerpt acting as an encore of pure nostalgia.

This is an essential purchase for all lovers of French song.

Colin Clarke

See also review by Chris Howell

 



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