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Germaine Lubin (soprano): The Complete Recordings
rec. 1927-1938
MARSTON 52070-2 [74:44 + 67:49]

The French dramatic soprano Germaine Lubin (1890-1979) is celebrated in a twofer that contains her entire body of commercially recorded work and includes two other pleasures – a 1954 radio broadcast, admittedly made when her voice was long past its best, and also the tiny discography of the highly promising Lucienne de Méo (1904-30), which consists of just one 78 rpm disc (two sides) and a preserved unpublished side from Walküre, sung rather sharp, made in 1928, two years before her suicide.

Lubin was one of the foremost, if not the foremost French Wagnerians of her time. This is duly reflected in her sequence of recordings which began in January 1927 with a double-sided Der Freischütz disc and ended in May 1944, leaving to one side the broadcasts of a decade later. The complexities and biographical twists and turns of her musical and personal life can be followed in the typically precise booklet notes. Like other French artists of the time, but far more than most, she fell foul of accusations of collaboration.

Her earliest recording is accompanied by a subterranean brassy orchestra but the voice itself, thankfully, is forwardly placed and fresh minted. The 1928 Pathé version of Tannhäuser’s Dich, teure Halle – or, in French, Salut àtoi, noble demeure - is much less familiar than the recording of it she made two years later for Odéon but both are excellent examples of her art. The deft diminuendi and grace note in her Vissi d’arte reveals that her Italian repertoire, not at all well represented on disc, should not be overlooked and though Reyer’s Sigurd was hardly central to her repertoire – it wasn’t and isn’t central to anyone’s repertoire – it is ironically one of her very best recordings, a superb and artful example of her musicianship at its finest. This first disc contains the bulk of her Wagner recordings and it’s not surprising that Odéon encouraged extracts from Die Walküre, a sliver from Siegfried, and a fifteen-minute Brünnhilde’s Immolation from Götterdammerung. The only thing here I find less than impressive is the bleaty tenor René Verdière in one of the Walküre sides. Götterdammerung is instructive as she recorded it before she’d performed it on stage. Her voice, though dramatic, was never heavy and it’s via artistry that she negotiates musical pitfalls not through pure vocal heft.

It was unwise of her to have essayed the sole Bach here - quasi-operatic stylistic pottage – and on the reverse of the 78 one finds Chopin’s Etude Op.10 No.3 arranged by Litvinne: truly a bizarre coupling. After this, the nadir of her legacy on disc, there was a near-decade gap until she signed for Columbia to record the Liebestod in German. Happily, we also have here an unpublished take recorded on the same day, but in French – it can be contrasted with the faster recording made back in 1929 for Odéon. The few surviving examples of her chanson and lieder show that her facility with vocal differentiation and pliable characterisation was not confined to the operatic sphere but permeated her recital performances. Her Erlkönig has well-differentiated voicings and is taken at a good tempo. There’s more of an edge to her voice in the wartime sides, in a couple of which she teams up delightfully with the young Gérard Souzay; the repertoire is light, the results delicious. She was in her mid-60s in 1954 and her voice is now much heavier and inevitably less mobile. Technically in these five pieces she can be technically sketchy - little wonder due to the difficulties she faced after war, capped by the suicide of her son in 1953 and her almost immediate retirement from public performance. Nevertheless, it’s stylistically valuable to hear her Wolf, and Debussy.

The booklet is, as noted earlier, typically first class and the transfers up to the now expected high standard set by this label. Lubin’s discs have been reissued before but not in their entirety in one set, as here, with unpublished sides and the broadcast included.

Jonathan Woolf

Full track-listing
CD 1 (74:44)
Pathé, Paris, 1927-1928
Der Freischütz: Wie nahte mir der Schlummer (Comment trouver le calme) (Weber)
January 1927; (N200607/8) X.0612
Tannhäuser: Dich, teure Halle (Salut à toi, noble demeure) (Wagner) [3:06]
22 June 1928; (201242) 7140
Faust: Il était un roi de Thulé (Gounod) [3:37]
22 June 1928; (unpublished take transferred from test pressing without matrix number)
Faust: Il était un roi de Thulé (Gounod) [3:22]
22 June 1928; (201243) 7140
Odéon, Paris, 1929-1930
Tosca: Non la sospiri la nostra casetta (Notre doux nid caché dans la verdure) (Puccini)
12 May 1930; (Ki 3246-2) 188720
Tosca: Vissi d’arte (D’art et d’amour) (Puccini) [3:15]
12 May 1930; (Ki 3245-2) 188720
Sigurd: Salut, splendeur du jour (Reyer) [6:21]
16 May 1930; (Ki 3265/6) 188724
Lohengrin: Einsam in trüben Tagen (Seule dans ma misère) (Wagner) [4:13]
25 January 1929; (XXP 6814) 123613
Tannhäuser: Dich, teure Halle (Salut à toi, noble demeure) (Wagner) [3:50]
25 January 1929; (XXP 6815) 123613
Tristan und Isolde: Mild und leise, wie er lächelt (Doux et calme) [Liebestod] (Wagner)
Date unknown; (Ki 2821-3, Ki 2822-2) 188696*
Die Walküre: Ein Greis in grauen Gewand (Drapé dans une cape noire) (Wagner) [3:53]
17 May 1929; (XXP 6887-2) unpublished
Die Walküre: Ein Greis in grauen Gewand (Drapé dans une cape noire) (Wagner)
4 February 1930; (XXP 7024-1) 123684
Die Walküre: Siegmund heiss‘ich (Siegmund suis-je) (Wagner) [3:47]
with René Verdière, tenor4 February 1930; (XXP 7023-2) 123683
Siegfried: Ewig war ich (Dès l’origine jusqu’à cette heure) (Wagner) [4:27]
4 February 1930; (XXP 7025-2) 123684
Götterdämmerung: Starke Scheite schichtet mir dort (Qu‘un bûcher s‘élève là-bas) [Brünnhilde’s Immolation] (Wagner) [15:18]
19 March 1929; (XXP 6853/6854) 123634
25 March 1929; (XXP 6862/6863) 123635

CD 2 (67:49)
Odéon, Paris, 1929-1930 (continued)
Mein gläubiges Herze (Mon âme croyante tressaille et chante) from Cantata No. 68, BWV 68 (Bach) [3:41]
15 April 1929; (XXP 6872) 123641
Tristesse, based on Étude, Op. 10, No. 3 (Chopin, arr. Litvinne) [3:56]
15 April 1929; (XXP 6871) 123641
Columbia, Paris, 1938
Tristan und Isolde: Mild und leise, wie er lächelt (Doux et calme) [Liebestod] (Wagner)
1 June 1938; (CLX 2031-1, CLX 2032-2) unpublished
Tristan und Isolde: Mild und leise, wie er lächelt [Liebestod] (Wagner) [6:48]
1 June 1938; (CLX 2033-1, CLX 2034-1) issued on HMB179
Pathé, Paris, 1939
Der Erlkönig, D. 328 (Schubert) [4:14]
(PARTX 1350-3) issued as a dubbing on a private 78 rpm disc
Liebeslied, Op. 51, No. 5 (Schumann) [2:43]
(PARTX 1351-2) issued as a dubbing on a private 78 rpm disc
Lied der Suleika, Op. 25, No. 9 (Schumann) [1:49]
(PARTX 1351-2) issued as a dubbing on a private 78 rpm disc
Pathé-Marconi, Paris
Verborgenheit, No. 12 from Mörike-Lieder (Mörike, Wolf) [2:51]
24 May 1944; (OLA 4301-1) unpublished on 78 rpm
Per valli, per boschi (Blangini) [1:55]
with Gérard Souzay, baritone 24 May 1944; (OLA 4302-1) issued on HMA94
Signes (Leguerney) [3:16]
with Gérard Souzay, baritone 24 May 1944; (OLA 4303-1) issued on HMA94
Sylvie, Op. 6, No. 3 (Choudens, Fauré) [2:20]
25 May 1944; (OLA 4304-1) issued on HMA71
Au bord de l’eau, Op. 8, No. 1 (Sully Prudhomme, Fauré) [1:54]
25 May 1944; (OLA 4305-1) issued on HMA71
French Radio
Recorded 5 June 1954, broadcast 9 August 1954
Vergine Tutto Amore (Durante) [3:24]
Beau soir (Bourget, Debussy) [2:16]
Je tremble en voyant ton visage, No. 3 from Le promenoir des deux amants (Tristan L’Hermite, Debussy) [1:51]
Nun wandre, Maria, No. 3, from Spanisches Liederbuch (Wolf) [3:01]
Um Mitternacht, No. 19, from Mörike-Lieder (Mörike, Wolf) [3:21]

Lucienne de Méo (soprano)
Complete Commercial Recordings
French Columbia, 1928
Alceste: Divinités du Styx (Gluck) [3:59]
25 February 1928; (WLX247-1) D14212
Der Freischütz: Und ob die Wolke (En vain au ciel) (Weber) [3:45]
25 February 1928; (WLX246-1) D14212
Die Walküre: Der männer Sippe (Tous nos parents, groupés autour de nous) (Wagner)
14 April 1928; (WLX 351-2) unpublished on 78 rpm
*Note: The recording date of this selection is uncertain. The surviving recording sheets for these matrices do not list a recording date for the published takes 3 and 2 respectively. The date of 19 December is listed for takes 1 and 2 for part 1, and take 1 for part 2. The published takes were most likely recorded during a later session.

CD 1: all Tracks sung in French
CD 2: Tracks 1-3, 10-12, 14-15, 18-20 sung in French; Tracks 4-8, 16-17 sung in German; Tracks 9 and 13 sung in Italian
CD 1: Tracks 1-4 with orchestra, unidentified conductor; Tracks 5 and 6 with orchestra conducted by Gustave Cloëz; Tracks 7-15 with orchestra conducted by Henry Defosse.
CD 2: Tracks 1-2 with piano, Jeanne Krieger; Tracks 3-4 with Orchestra of the Paris Conservatory conducted by Philippe Gaubert; Tracks 5-7 with piano, Erich Itor Kahn; Tracks 8-12 with piano, Georges Viseur; Tracks 13-17 with piano, Jean-Jacques Painchaud; Tracks 18-20 with orchestra conducted by Fernand Heurteur.



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