admirers have had much to savour in recent years courtesy, to
a large extent, of Testament. A good selection of his French
repertoire can be found there as can a cross-section of his
Schubert, Schumann, Wolf and classical and traditional songs.
These are all derived from Decca discs from the 1950s. Some
of the early 1950 recordings are on Pearl.
from the Swiss label Claves we have another facet of the Souzay-Baldwin
partnership from that heady decade: their recordings for Lumen
and for Ducretet-Thomson (the Liszt items) of these twenty-eight
repertoire flirts with that which they laid down for Decca at
around the same time – Monteverdi and Italian baroque in the
main though there was Handel. However the transfer of the Lumen
LP has preserved an especially imaginative selection of (mainly)
sixteenth century songs from Italy and Spain. It should
come as little surprise that Souzay, whose Monteverdi Orfeo
was so admired a characterisation, should excel here as well.
A number of these Aria Antiche derive from Canzone scordate
and were selected and harmonized by Arne Dørumsgaard. They
show once more the baritone’s sheer elegance and refinement;
never narcissistic, always devoted to the musical line. His
legato is sovereign in Cavalli’s Son ancor pargoletta and
whilst one could perhaps take a certain objection to the raffiné
quality of his portamenti in the Caccini song Tu ch’hai le
penne Amore there’s no argument at all about the elastic
nature of his control over it; lyric singing of tremendous eloquence.
His response to the sentiment of the poetry is at its blazing
summit in Carissimi’s Soccorretemi, ch’io moro; listen
to the control of the rise and fall of dynamics, the scrupulous
attention to the text and the sheer beauty of tone Souzay evinces.
Also, lest it be overlooked, how appositely and sensitively
Baldwin accompanies him. What in other voices could have been an invitation
to braggadocio – Pasquini’s Quanto e folle - becomes
instead a witty discourse in knowing manliness. This is a singer
who knows his texts and characterises with wit and understanding.
applies to a hunting aria such as Mena’s A la caza, sus,
a caza – hardening of the voice – as much as to the honeyed
mezza voce he employs in Milan’s Quien amores ten. It applies
equally to Baldwin’s
languid introduction to de la Torre’s Quien amores ten as
to Souzay’s suave legato and their dual exploration of explicit
Liszt songs were recorded slightly earlier, in Paris. The accents and vocal subtleties are just as impressive. Oh! Quand
je dors may be quite slow but it’s well sustained and
Le chasseur des Alpes has the requisite strength of purpose.
The teamwork between the two men in Cloches de Marling is
well nigh ideal.
a splendid selection from non-Decca
1957-58 LPs. The recording caught
a certain amount of uncharacteristic
forcing (try Pasquini’s Bela bocca)
and there’s also some high-level rumble
as well, especially in the Italo-Spanish
selection. But otherwise admirers
of the great baritone will be well
satisfied, as they will by the full
texts and useful introductory biographical