Victoria from the Heart - Love Songs.
Victoria de los Ángeles
Jean Paul Egide MARTINI (1741 – 1816)
1. Plaisir d’amour [3:10]
Franz SCHUBERT (1797 – 1828)
2. Nur wer die Sehnsucht kennt [4:07]
Gabriel FAURÉ (1845 – 1924)
3. Les Roses d’Ispaham [2:55]
Maurice RAVEL (1875 – 1937)
Cinq Mélodies populaires grecques:
4. Chanson des cueilleuses [2:21]
Reynaldo HAHN (1874 – 1947)
5. L’énamourée [3:32]
Joseph CANTELOUBE, Arr. (1879 – 1957)
6. Baïlèro [4:48]
Gabriel FAURÉ
7. Pleurs d’or [3:06]
Johannes BRAHMS (1833 – 1897)
8. Wie Melodien zieht es mir [2:51]
Robert SCHUMANN (1810 – 1856)
Myrthen, Op. 25:
9. Der Nussbaum [3:27]
Reynaldo HAHN
10. A Chloris [3:16]
Johannes BRAHMS
11. Dein blaues Auge [2:10]
Gabriel FAURÉ
12. Claire de lune [2:49]
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770 – 1827)
13. The Dream [3:39]
Gabriel FAURÉ
14. Chanson d’amour [2:16]
Giacomo PUCCINI (1858 – 1924)
La Bohème:
15. Donde lieta usci al tuo grido [3:11]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756 – 1791)
Le nozze di Figaro:
16. Porgi, amor [4:34]
Charles GOUNOD (1818 – 1893)
17. Je voudrais bien savoir ... Il était un roi de Thulé [4:55]
Jules MASSENET (1842 – 1912)
18. Je ne suis que faiblesse ... Adieu, notre petite table [3:50]
Giuseppe VERDI (1813 – 1901)
Simon Boccanegra:
19. Vieni mirar la cerula [2:56]
La Traviata:
20. Parigi o cara [4:47]
Bonus Tracks
21. Defaite [1:46]
22. Aveu [1:21]
Victoria de los Angeles (soprano)
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (baritone) (2, 7, 13), Giuseppe Campora (tenor) (19), Carlo del Monte (tenor) (20); pianists include Gerald Moore and Geoffrey Parsons; conductors include Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Georges Prêtre, André Cluytens, Pierre Monteux and Tullio Serafin
rec. 1951–1990
Texts enclosed but no translations
COLUMNA MUSICA 1CM0252 [73:14]

Love songs! Who was more suited to sing them than Victoria de los Angeles – the loveliest of sopranos? Many of the songs on this disc evoke pleasant memories from late night listening sessions in a distant past and it is once again confirmed that whatever she touches is turned into gold. No sensational revelation of course, at least not to listeners who, like me, have come of age ... What this disc definitely shows is the consistency of her singing. Listen to Brahms’s Wie Melodies zieht es mir (tr 8). It was recorded in 1990, on 3 May to be more precise, and she was 66. Who can believe that when hearing the remarkable freshness and, yes, youthfulness in her voice? Maybe her portamenti are a bit more pronounced than in younger years – but truth to tell this is not what I hear, it is what I expect to hear! The venue was Wigmore Hall and Geoffrey Parsons was at the piano. There were two recitals, possibly on two consecutive days. I attended the first one and it was the second one that was recorded by Collins Classics. I can still feel the atmosphere, see in my mind’s eye her gentle and relaxed appearance, and hearing her voice in this beautiful Brahms song I recall the sounds on that magical evening.

Go then to the next track, Der Nussbaum from Schumann’s Myrthen and we hear the same characteristics: the beauty of the voice, the lightness, the freshness. It was recorded in 1951! Almost 40 years separate these two recordings but without knowing the dates I could have sworn that they were more or less contemporaneous. And on the next track, the wonderful Hahn song A Chloris, we are again in 1990, but now in Tokyo. The sound is a bit dimmer but it is fully acceptable and one can enjoy her singing immensely. She was very often at her best in French repertoire and a couple of the gems on my Wigmore Hall recital were her Hahn readings.

She wasn’t always on that exalted level. There were times when she was less than steady and her tone started to deteriorate, but she continued to give recitals. And so beloved she was that audiences flocked whenever she appeared, no doubt remembering her heydays and forgiving her deficiencies. But her Indian summer around 1990 is truly remarkable. This compilation concentrates on the 1950s and -60s when she was more or less beyond criticism.

The three duets with Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau are relative rarities, I am not sure they have ever been reissued complete on CD. The LP was issued in 1961 and Gerald Moore is at the piano. On The dream (tr. 13) they are also joined by violinist Eduard Drolc and cellist Irmgard Poppen, Fischer-Dieskau’s first wife, who died in 1963 at the birth of their third son.

Going back to the beginning of the disc Plaisir d’amour is a true gem. It has probably never been better sung. It comes from a mid-60s LP entitled A World of Song with popular and not so well known songs. From the same collection comes Hahn’s exquisite L’enamourée with a delicate orchestral arrangement by Douglas Larter. All the French numbers are in fact delicious, Fauré represented by no less than four pieces. The Ravel song, expertly orchestrated by Manuel Rosenthal, shimmers in sundry colours and her voice blends beautifully with the instruments. She also championed Canteloube’s Songs of Auvergne. The two LPs she issued were recorded as late as 1973 and her voice may have lost some of its lustre but gained in volume.

Her operatic repertoire is also well represented. Donde lieta usci from the third act of La Bohème is not from the legendary Beecham recording with Björling but from a recital set down in Rome the previous year, 1955. Though the conductor here, Giuseppe Morelli is more anonymous than Sir Thomas it is vocally a divine reading, surpassed by none, equalled by few. She is also a noble Contessa in Le nozze di Figaro and the Marguerite of one’s dreams in the Ballade du roi de Thulé from Faust. This is from the stereo remake of the opera, made in 1959, with André Cluytens conducting. The mono version from 1953 is, if possible, even fresher, but her interpretation has undoubtedly deepened in 1959. A classic on a par with La Bohème is the Paris made Manon with veteran Pierre Monteux conducting.

She sang very little Verdi but here we have duets from the only two Verdi operas she recorded. Neither of her tenor partners are that well known today but Giuseppe Campora, who sings Gabriele opposite her Amelia in Simon Boccanegra, was one of the finest Italian tenors of the 50s and 60s, especially successful in Puccini. He left a rather large recorded legacy which included both Madama Butterfly and Tosca with Tebaldi. His Gabriele Adorno is manly and stylish but it is most of all Victoria de los Angeles who stands out in this excerpt, one of the most beautiful moments in the entire opera. Carlo del Monte had a more limited gramophone career: besides this classic Traviata he also participated in Gianni Schicchi, again opposite de los Angeles.

The two bonus tracks are very special. After some encores Victoria de los Angeles used to return to the stage, guitar in hand, and the audience knew that this marked the end of the evening. In this case there is no information about where and when the recordings were made but we encounter a soprano who has left her well schooled classical voice far behind and adopted a chanson singing style in the manner of, say, Edith Piaf. It is charming and delightful, as is the whole disc. “Victoria from the heart!” So true!

Göran Forsling

“Victoria from the heart!” So true!