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Presier Records


Rose Bampton (b. 1907)
Christoph Willibald von GLUCK (1714-1787)
Alceste - Ah, malgré moi, mon faible coeur [4:43]
Alceste - Non, ce n´est point un sacrifice[5:16]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Don Giovanni - Era gia alquanto... Or sai chi l´onore [4:51]
Don Giovanni - Non mi dir, bell´idol mio [5:02]
Gioachino ROSSINI (1792-1868)
La Cenerentola - Nacqui affanno... Non piu mesta [5:14]
Semiramide - Bel raggio lusinghier [4:59]
Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901)
Ernani - Sorte e la notte... Ernani, involami [5:06]
Aida - Qui Radames verra!... O patria mia [5:15]
Richard WAGNER (1813-1883)
Lohengrin - Einsam in trüben Tagen [4:41]
Tristan und Isolde - Mild und leise [5:11]
Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924)
Tosca - Vissi d´arte [3:11]
Jules MASSENET (1842-1912)
Herodiade - Il est doux, il est bon [4:44]
Hector BERLIOZ (1803-1869)
La Damnation de Faust - D´amour lardente flamme [7:34]
CLAUDE DEBUSSY (1862-1918)
L´enfant prodigue - L´Annee en vain chasse l´annee [4:46]
Georg Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759)
Atalanta - Come, beloved [3:36]
John Alden CARPENTER (1876-1951)
Gitanjali - When I bring to you colour´d toys [2:28]
Gitanjali - Light, my light [2:18]
Rose Brampton (soprano)
Victor Orchestra/Wilfred Pelletier
RCA Victor Orchestra/Wilfred Pelletier
Metropolitan Opera Orchestra/William Steinberg
Wilfred Pelletier (piano)
Charles O’Connell (piano)
rec. 1932-1946
PREISER 89675 [79:03]

The earliest sides here date from Bampton’s days as a mezzo; we know her much better, of course, as a dramatic soprano. The recordings cover a fourteen-year period and present a very reasonable portrait of her repertoire. It ranges from the early Handel recording to include the unusual Carpenter songs via the expected Verdi and Puccini.

Her Gluck is certainly dramatic though it the tone tends to harden under pressure, a recurrent limitation of her singing if these discs are a pure reflection of her performances – and there’s no reason to think they’re not. It comes across as a shrill and squally top. To compensate there is her acute and penetrating musical intelligence; she phrases with surety and understanding. Her Mozart, for example, is excellently controlled and projected but her technique is not quite tight enough to encompass the stretchier demands of Or sai chi l´onore with absolute security.

In the Italian repertoire we find that whilst she manages registral leaps with command and whilst the voice is of itself an instrument of considerable penetration and theatrical impersonation, little ineradicable faults remain. The voice isn’t quite full enough in Rossini. Her Verdi is certainly sung with conviction and allure but perhaps by the highest standards it does come across as slightly under characterised. Moving on to Vissi d’arte we find, it has to be conceded, considerable technical facility but maybe the last missing ounces of sheer frisson.

She was a pioneer of broadcast. Wagner having given the American broadcast premiere of Parsifal with Stokowski in Philadelphia in 1933. Both the performances enshrined in Preiser’s disc predate her later post 1940 studies in California with Lotte Lehmann, who guided Bampton through Wagner roles with some precision.

Her Berlioz strikes one now as a touch mechanical in its responses though the voice itself is deployed with great skill and once more, real intelligence. The early Handel disc is clean, clear and rather cool emotionally. It is of real interest to hear her in the Carpenter songs where her husband the Canadian born pianist and conductor Wilfred Pelletier accompanies her – as indeed he does on most of the sides. Here one senses a greater sense of involvement and immediacy.

Preiser’s copies are in good estate and have been sympathetically transferred. If Bampton emerges as a somewhat lesser interpreter than she might once have seemed, there’s still pleasure to be taken in hearing this agreeably wide-ranging conspectus.

Jonathan Woolf

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