Hommage a Bidú Sayão - Volume 2
Giovani Battista PERGOLESI (1710-1736)
Tré giorni son che Nina [2:27]
(18 February, 1946)
Tantin, tantino-Ma che vi costa, signor tutore [2:44]
(8 May, 1950)
Il bacio [3:45]
Gioachino ROSSINI (1792-1868)
Una voce poco fa from the opera Il Barbiere di Siviglia [6:56]
(10 April, 1943)
Bel Raggio Lusinghier from the opera Semiramide [8:01]
(10 April, 1944)
Giuseppe VERDI (1813–1901)
Ah, fors' é lui...Sempre libera from the opera La Traviata [5:43]
(30 September, 1946)
Georges BIZET (1838-1875)
Micaëla’s aria: Je dis que rien ne m'épouvante from the opera Carmen [5:37]
(6 December, 1948)
Jules MASSENET (1842-1912)
Voyons, Manon, plus de chimères from the opera Manon [4:12]
(19 June, 1944)
Manuel PONCE (1882–1948)
Estrellita [2:43]
(8 May, 1950)
C'est mon ami [2:18]
(8 September, 1947)
Padre Giovanni Battista MARTINI (1706-1784)
Plaisir d’amour [3:54]
(11 September, 1950)
Gabriel FAURÉ (1845-1924)
Clair de lune [2:55]
(1 October, 1945)
Edvard GRIEG (1843-1907)
The Last Springtide [3:41]
Antonín DVORÁK (1841-1904)
Songs My Mother Taught Me [2:10]
(20 July, 1942)
Roving in the Dew [1:34]
(14 September, 1953)
Alicia Ann SCOTT
Think on Me [3:00]
(30 September, 1946)
The Teakettle Song [2:25]
John Jacob NILES
Go Away from My Window [2:57]
(11 September, 1950)
The Poet Sings [1:39]
I’ll Follow My Secret Heart [2:35]
Bidú Sayão (soprano) with
Bell Telephone Hour Orchestra/Donald Voorhees during radio broadcasts from New York City; Lyric Opera Orchestra/Frank St. Leger, during a radio broadcast from Cleveland; Philco Symphony Orchestra/Paul Whitman during a radio broadcast from Philadelphia; Concert Hall Orchestra/Fritz Reiner during a radio broadcast from San Francisco; Firestone Hour Orchestra/Howard Barlow during radio broadcasts from New York City. ADD
CEMBAL D’AMOUR CD 145 [71:27]

Once again Cembal d’amour focuses on the art of Bidú Sayão in non-commercial airchecks made between 1942 and 1953, spanning both West and East coasts and points in between. The repertoire ranges from Aria Antiche to Noël Coward and indeed beyond, to The Teakettle Song, an opus not necessarily high on my list of repeated pleasures, but highly diverting for a once-only. The sound varies from date to date and location to location but it’s seldom less than perfectly serviceable.

We open with Old School verities and Tré giorni son che Nina, in which she stretches repeated phrases almost to breaking point, infusing the line with daredevil elasticity, and keeping ennui at bay. Note her precision and sheer coquettishness in Tantin, tantino-Ma che vi costa, signor tutore where her laugh has a feline allure. Il bacio is an infectious waltz performance, a little aurally cramped, it’s true, but surviving the constriction with some style. We get down to business with Rossini’s Una voce poco fa where she disports herself with commanding vitality, egged on by Frank St Leger, erstwhile recording pianist for English Vocalion in the 1920s and subsequently a big cheese at the Met. The performance here comes from Cleveland.

The coloratura demands of Bel Raggio Lusinghier from Semiramide are considerable but she surmounts them with athleticism and a vaulting vocalism, one that turns stratospheric at places. And don’t overlook that trill either. Only two years separates this performance from Traviata’s Sempre libera but the sound is considerably improved. For the splendid Carmen aria in San Francisco her conductor was none other than Fritz Reiner, who directed the Concert Hall Orchestra, but for more even more sultry pleasures one should turn to Estrellita where her floated voice catches perfectly the essence of the music. Even Heifetz’s arrangement must cede to the sound of Sayão. In the circumstances one should perhaps look kindly on her Plaisir d’amour, which she tends to turn to suet, stylistically and metrically speaking, and against which acetate thumps are an irrelevance. She is a bit too stentorian in Fauré’s Clair de lune which is unidiomatically dispatched. Her Songs My Mother Taught Me is not at all how Jarmila Novotná sang it, but it’s personable nonetheless, whilst her Roving in the Dew offers a charming, laugh-filled take on the English language. Talking of which Coward’s I’ll Follow My Secret Heart with the Firestone Hour Orchestra and Howard Barlow also comes with a chorus, and was recorded in 1947. The bulk of the tracks however come via the staunch and reliable support of the Bell Telephone Hour Orchestra and its conductor, Donald Voorhees.

This disc is a follow-up to the inauguratory volume in this series, and reprises its virtues of interesting selections, and dedicated professionalism.

Jonathan Woolf

Interesting selections, and dedicated professionalism.

see also review of Volume 3 by John France