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Marian Anderson – A recital of opera, lieder and oratorio

Deep River – arranged H T BURLEIGH [3.20]
Go Down, Moses – arranged H T BURLEIGH [2.59]
Sometimes I feel like a motherless child – arranged H T BURLEIGH [3.43]
Heav’n Heav’n – arranged H T BURLEIGH [3.03]
Gaetano DONIZETTI (1797-1848)

La Favorita – O mio Fernando [6.19]
Claude DEBSUSSY (1868-1918)

L’Enfant Prodigue – L’Anné en vain [4.01]
Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)

Jeanne d’Arc – Adieu forets [3.55]
George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759)

Dettingen Te Deum – Dignare Domine [No.17] [2.56]
L’Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato – Lass’ mich wandern [No.19 –in German] [3.26]
Siroe, Re do Persia – Ch’io mai vi possa [2.47]
Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)

Der Tod und das Mädchen [3.06]
Ave Maria [4.56]
Schwanengesang No. 5 – Aufenthalt [3.49]
Die Forelle [2.02]
Thekla [4.27]
Dem Unendlichen [4.05]
Die Schöne Müllerin No.2 Wohin? [2.16]
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)

Cantata No.112 – Der Herr ist mein getreuer Hirt – No.2 Zum reinen Wasser [4.02]
Weihnachts Oratorio – No,4 Bereite dich Zion [5.15]
Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957)

Flickan kom ifran sin älsklings mote [3.16]
Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901)

Don Carlos – O don fatale [4.04]
Marian Anderson (contralto)
William King (piano)
Kosti Vehanen (piano)
Franz Rupp (piano)
RCA Victor Chamber Orchestra/Robert Shaw (Bach) with Robert Bloom (oboe)
Orchestra/Lawrence Collingwood (Verdi)
Recorded 1923-51

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There are quite a number of Anderson recordings currently available and most take the route of a broad overview of her career. This is a relatively tempting target because she sang lieder and opera, spirituals and oratorio and in a disc of twenty items one can cover a lot of stylistic ground. One can even, as Symposium does, trace her from the later acoustics of December 1923 to the post-War Schubert lieder sides made in New York. Naxos is currently engaged on a retrospective that does something of the same thing but Symposium’s disc has rarer material and is geared to a more High Art audience. That’s not to deny the Spirituals inheritance, as the first four tracks are her spiritual discs of 1923, ‘24 and 1930. But we do get a slew of her Schubert, rare 1946 Bach and some Handel as well as one example of her Sibelius recordings.

So this is a well-rounded portrait that is likely to offer something new to all but the hardened Anderson completist. Comparing the five items that overlap between this Symposium and the most recent Naxos issue – Sometimes I Feel like A Motherless Child, Heav’n Heav’n, the Donizetti, Debussy and Tchaikovsky one finds that Symposium has retained a relatively high level of surface noise. Naxos has used a degree of noise reduction to filter out the shellac rustle. The voice is therefore that much more immediate in the Symposium transfers without having at all been artificially projected. The down side is the shellac crackle. The spirituals are wonderfully and famously vibrant and the advantage here is that the two acoustics will be less well known than the sequence she made around 1930. Her Donizetti is rather under characterised. Of her Handel, this is a revealing selection. She has a certain static nobility in the Te Deum whilst in her aria from L’Allegro she goes high without apparent discomfort – taking the highest notes with real ease.

Her Ave Maria is rather too reverential but the post War lieder discs show a deepening cultivation and emotive resonance, even if her tone is not flattered by the slightly metallic recording of Thekla. Her Bach comes with obbligato oboe played by Robert Bloom and an ensemble directed by Robert Shaw. It’s a convincing performance as well. It’s a pity that the Sibelius disc is somewhat scuffy because the series of discs she recorded (five songs I believe) represented an interesting example of the extent of her song repertory.

Given the attractive notes and the wide-ranging conspectus it is really a question of duplication and transfer imperatives. Given those two factors you may well want to investigate the more esoteric fringes of her repertoire in this well constructed and programmed disc.

Jonathan Woolf

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