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Hommage à Bidú Sayão - Volume 4
Track-listing at end of review
Bidú Sayão (soprano)
Bell Telephone Hour Orchestra/Donald Voorhees
Orchestra/Wilfred Pelletier
Milne Charnley (piano)
rec. 1938-54
CEMBAL D’AMOUR CD 153 [72:11]

Experience Classicsonline

The fourth volume in the Sayão series from Cembal d’Amour covers off-air recordings made between 1938 and 1954. Once more the programme reflects the variety of her repertoire and has been chosen to give plenty of opportunities to listen to her in varied music over the years. I daresay there are those who would prefer to hear each broadcast in toto, and not to flit between recitals and decades, but the principle here is again to start with the obvious operatic music and then to lighten the drama as we move toward songs, and the witty pieces with which the disc ends. It certainly provides 72 minutes of constant interest.

Some of the recordings are distinctly boxy, but it’s not sufficient to efface her vivacity quite. That’s true of the Puccini extract where the radiance of the voice can still be appreciated. There’s a touch of overload in the preserved broadcast of the Rigoletto from 1938 but her pin-point accuracy, coloratura brilliance and narrative gifts are at their most ardent. The Ballatella from I Pagliacci finds her in equally fine voice, though we’re a decade on now; the harp comes through well, though again the recording quality is cloudy. The Faust tableau is impressively done, and here the voice can be heard in better aural perspective; listen to her tight, bright trills, the rather extravagantly rolled Gallic ‘r’ and the conversational imperatives of her musicianship, its sheer communicative directness. By 1954, a few years before her retirement, we find the voice has begun to lose its gleaming immediacy; it’s now a touch hard, and not helped by the glassy recording. There’s a distinct difference between this Manon aria and the succeeding one which was recorded five years earlier and shows the voice in much better estate.

The little run of piano-accompanied 1938 recordings – with Milne Charnley – is a delightful souvenir of her sense of joie de vivre; the Auber Laughing Song is as enjoyable as the flirty persona she presents in Campra’s Song of the Butterfly. There’s plenty of personality and élan in Buzzi-Peccia’s The Beautiful Colombetta. Not to be overlooked is the proud Iberian flair of the Turina song, recorded in 1950, with its glamorous virtuosity intact. Nor too the melancholy of Costa’s Canto da Saudade or the sassy strength of Longa’s The Laundress. Maybe following a bit in Supervia’s steps she tries an English song, Carey’s A Spring Morning, but is clearly in tune with the fun of Dougherty’s two amusing numbers.

In all therefore, this slice of Sayão’s broadcast life preserves her sense of communicative charm with great relish.

Jonathan Woolf

Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924)

Musetta’s Waltz from La Bohème [2:33]
(September 1947)
Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901)
Caro Nome (Dearest Name) from Rigoletto [4:53]
Ruggiero LEONCAVALLO (1858-1919)
Ballatella from I Pagliacci [4:38]
Charles GOUNOD (1818-1893)
Le roi de Thule and Air des Bijous (The King of Thule & Jewel Song) from Faust [9:19]
(June 1947)
Jules MASSENET (1842-1912)
Adieu notre petit Table from Manon [4:27]
(June 1954)
Gavotte from Manon [3:28]
(October 1949)
Daniel-Francois-Esprit AUBER (1782-1871)
L’éclat de rire (Laughing Aria) from Manon Lescaut [2:56]
Para Ninar (Lullaby) [2:57]
Chanson de Papillon (Song of the Butterfly) [3:20]
La Bella Colombetta- Serenata Veneziana [3:38]
Joaquin TURINA (1882-1949)
Cantares (Songs) [1:59]
(September 1950)
Canto da Saudade (Song of Longing) [4:34]
Cysnes [4:43]
Lavandera (The Laundress) [2:06]
The Bird [2:11]
Henry CAREY (1687-1743)
A Spring Morning [3:01]
Sonatina (A comical work portraying an reluctant and not quite advance young piano student) [1:39]
(September 1948)
The Children’s Letter [3:20]
(October 1949)
Just for Today [2:52]
Sigmund ROMBERG (1887-1951)
New Moon, Lover, Come Back to Me [3:26]
(June 1953)








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