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REVIEW Plain text for smartphones & printers

None of these recordings is new but I thought it would be worthwhile to offer a brief resume of the contents of this handful of Bridge discs. Some of the material falls into the historical category.

Leontyne Price (soprano)/Samuel Barber (piano)
rec. 1938/53
BRIDGE 9156 [79:43]

That is assuredly the case with the most valuable restoration here, the 1953 Library of Congress recital given by Leontyne Price and Samuel Barber, to which is added Barber’s own self-accompanied recital at the Curtis Institute of Music in 1938 (Bridge 9156). Price’s voice is rather distantly balanced and applause is insistent but the shape and balance of the recital reflects her strengths in American and French music and, so too, Barber’s thoughtful pianism. Poulenc and Sauguet represent the French repertoire, the four Eluard songs eloquently surveyed, the Sauguet La Voyante full of Gallic wit, some conveyed here – there’s a bit of recording overload in the third of the cycle of five. Barber’s own songs find an outstanding exponent in Price, in particular this premiere performance of the Hermit Songs, Op.29. The declamatory power of Price’s voice is best experienced in the third setting, Saint Ita’s Vision. Barber’s own commercial 78rpm set of Dover Beach is very well known, the live 1938 Curtis recital less so. He performs his Six Folk Songs with Old School nobility and in the Six Lieder maintains an equilibrium between song and accompaniment. His voice isn’t an especially mobile instrument but has gravity. Irrespective of stylistic matters regarding Barber’s occasionally anachronistic style, this whole disc is of major interest to admirers of the composer and, so too, admirers of the art of Leontyne Price.

Benita Valente (soprano) - Volume 1
rec. 1969-89
BRIDGE 9316 [69:01]

There are two Bridge volumes devoted to Benita Valente. The recordings from the first (9316) come from diverse sources and the repertoire ranges from Handel to Fernando Obradors - a welcome diversion – by way of Mozart, Schubert, Brahms, Wolf and Debussy. Her Mozart is refined and elegant and it’s noticeable that Sasha Schneider gets a more effusively romantic spirit into the Mozart Festival Orchestra than David Effron directing the Eastman Orchestra. Her Handel is sternly sung and rather externalised with some registral messing about. Her Schubert has the support, variously, of clarinetist Harold Wright and pianists Richard Goode and Rudolf Serkin – an exceptionally fine quartet of performances. Goode accents keenly in the Reger songs. She has enough stylistic and vocal flexibility for the Debussy Verlaine settings but scores higher with the exuberant Iberianism of Obradors which is melancholy as well as florid, flamenco, and great fun.

Benita Valente - Volume 2
rec. 1980/85
BRIDGE 9451 [62:06]

The second Valente volume (9451) gives us more of her valuable Reger, adding more Schubert, Schumann and Richard Strauss. Again material has come from a variety of sources whether LP, live or broadcast. It’s not especially easy to be specific about this as the documentation is somewhat hazy on the point, to put it mildly. Wright reappears to great effect and the pianists throughout this disc are Lydia Artymiw, Cynthia Rain and Lee Luvisi. Her Wolf in particular is naturally phrased and unexaggerated and perhaps her studies with Lotte Lehmann helped in that respect. The six Reger performances here serve only to enhance the impression made in the earlier volume.

Dorothy Maynor (soprano)
rec. 1940
BRIDGE 9233 [67:44]

Dorothy Maynor (Bridge 9233) is heard in a recital given at the Library of Congress in 1940. Arpad Sandor is the accompanist. She’s somewhat overlooked as a pioneering and courageous African-American singer but a forwardly placed vocal spectrum and Sandor’s astutely sympathetic accompaniments make the best possible case for her. She essays a few downward portamenti in Oh Sleep, Why Dost Thou Leave Me? though her vibrato can be somewhat tremulous in Schubert’s Ave Maria. Her French repertoire is good to hear – the Bizet and Grovlez pieces in particular. The two Coleridge-Taylor songs are followed by a series of Spirituals, gravely programmed where her affinity for the genre but natural discretion and taste ensure that every one is appropriately weighted. Lead Me To The Water, for example, is balanced by the more extrovert I’m Seekin’ For A City. Were you there is movingly declaimed, unaccompanied.

Jan DeGaetani (mezzo soprano)
rec. 1982
BRIDGE 9006 [42:33]

Maynor may now be a niche name – and so much the better, therefore, for Bridge’s restoration – but Jan DeGaetani is very much more our contemporary, though she died, it’s salutary to reflect, as long ago as 1989. Accompanied by Gilbert Kalisch she performs a rather short-measure 42-minute recital culled from two recording dates in 1982. Her nine Ives songs encompass a wide array of allusions, evocations, fixations and micro-dramas. The nostalgic-hymnal tints of Down East, the hints of Deep River in Tom Sails Away, and the Ivesian wit of The Side Show are all deftly brought out. The recital is enhanced by Apparition, George Crumb’s cycle for voice and amplified piano, which was written for DeGaetani and Kalisch in 1979 and which takes texts from Walt Whitman. There could hardly be a more authoritative reading than this one, with its taut declamatory power, its three vocalizes and its moments of pondering abstraction – sample the superb Come Lovely and Soothing Death. Yes, this may be short measure but this recital reflects artistry, concern for textual meaning, and superior musicianship.

Jonathan Woolf

Previous reviews: Valente Vol. 1:  Göran Forsling ~ Vol. 2: Ralph Moore

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Leontyne Price and Samuel Barber – Historic Performances 1938 and 1953
1953 Recital
Francis POULENC (1899-1963)
Quatre Poèmes de Paul Eluard [7:53]
C'est ainsi que tu es [2:21]
Samuel BARBER (1910-1981)
Sleep Now, Op.10 No.2 [2:20]
The Daisies. Op.2 No.1 [0:49]
Nocturne, Op.13 No.4 [3:11]
Nuvoletta, Op.25 [4:04]
Hermit Songs, Op.29 (premiere performance) [16:34]
Henri SAUGUET (1901-1989)
La Voyante [14:26]
Gabriel FAURÉ (1845-1924)
Au bord de l'eau [2:00]
Leontyne Price (soprano)
Samuel Barber (piano)
rec. 30 October 1953, Coolidge Auditorium of the Library of Congress
1938 Recital
Six Folk Songs [12:40]
O waly, waly: The Deaf Woman's Courtship: Brother Greene: Zu Dir: Batti, batti: Chi ti ci fa venir
Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)
In der Fremde [2:22]
Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847)
Ist es wahr? [1:10]
Carl Philip Emanuel BACH (1714-1788)
Nonnelied [2:55]
Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)
Der Gang zum Liebchen [1:24]
Der Tod, das ist die kühle Nacht, [3:21]
Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
Der Jüngling an der Quelle [1:53]
Samuel Barber (baritone and piano)
rec. 26 December 1938, Curtis Institute of Music
English texts included but not original French texts

Great Singers Of The 20th Century: Vol. 1 - Benita Valente
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756 – 1791)
1.Un moto di gioia, K. 579 [1:36]
2.Deh vieni, non tardar from Le nozze di Figaro [4:45]
3.Vorrei spiegarvi o Dio! K. 418 [7:16]
George Frideric HANDEL (1685 – 1759)
4.Lascia ch’io pianga from Rinaldo [4:29]
Franz SCHUBERT (1797 – 1828)
5.Heidenröslein, D 257 [1:45]
6.Nacht und Träume, D 827 [3:07]
7.Rastlose Liebe, D 138 [1:16]
8.Der Hirt auf dem Felsen [11:26]
Johannes BRAHMS (1833–1897)
9.Meine Liebe ist grün, Op. 63 No. 5 [1:16]
10.Vergebliches Ständchen, Op. 84 No. 4 [1:33]
Hugo WOLF (1860–1903)
from Italienisches Liederbuch
11.Auch kleine Dinge [2:13]
12.Mir ward gesagt [1:51]
13.Wer rief dich denn? [1:05]
14.Du denkst mit einem Fädchen [1:00]
15.Wie lange schon [2:09]
16.Ihr jungen Leute [1:10]
17.Mein Liebster singt [1:28]
18.Ich hab’ in Penna einem Liebsten wohnen [0:56]
Claude DEBUSSY (1862–1918)
Ariettes oublies
19.Il pleur dans mon coeur [2:09]
20.Chevaux de bois [3:10]
21.Aquarelles I Green [2:05]
22.Aquarelles II Spleen [2:19]
Fernando OBRADORS (1897–1945)
23.Al Amor [1:10]
24.Con amores la mi madre [1:30]
25.Del Cabello mas sutil [2:00]
26.Chiquitita la novia [2:23]
Benita Valente (soprano)
Richard Goode (piano) (1, 5-7, 9-18), Lydia Artymiw (piano) (19-22), David Effron (piano) (23-26), Eastman Orchestra/David Effron (2, 4), Mozart Festival Orchestra/Alexander Schneider (3), Rudolf Serkin (piano), Harold Wright (clarinet)
rec. October 1970 (3); Marlboro Music Festival July 1969 (8); January 1989 (19-22); for remaining tracks no dates are given
Texts and translations

Benita Valente – Volume 2
Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
Romanze, D. 787, Gretchen am Spinnrade, D. 118
Cynthia Raim ( piano); Harold Wright (clarinet)
Lied der Mignon, D. 877, #2, #3, & #4
Lydia Artymiw (piano)
Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)
Die Lotosblume, op. 25, #7, Du bist wie eine Blume, op. 25, #24; Marienwürmchen, op. 79, #13
Lee Luvisi (piano)
Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949)
Heimkehr, op. 15, #5, Allerseelen, op. 10, #8, Einerlei, op. 69, #3; Drei Lieder der Ophelia, op. 67, #1 Wie erkenn ich mein Treulieb, #2 Guten Morgen, #3 Sie trugen ihn, Zueignung, op. 10, #1, Die Nacht, op. 10, #3, Ständchen, op. 17, #2; Cäcilie, op. 27, #2
Hugo WOLF (1860-1903)
Er ist's, Verschwiegene Liebe, Verborgenheit, Das verlassene Mägdlein, In dem Schatten meiner Locken, Mausfallensprüchlein
Benita Valente (soprano)
Cynthia Raim (piano)
rec. 29-31 July 1985, Rutgers Presbyterian Church, New York City (Strauss, Wolf); 4-7 July 1985, Macalester College, St Paul, Minnesota (Schubert); 10-12 December 1980 (Lied der Mignon; Die Lotosblume; Du bist wie eine Blume; Marienwürmchen). DDD
German texts and English translations provided.

Dorothy Maynor (soprano)
George Frederick HANDEL (1685-1759)
Semele: Oh Sleep, Why Dost Thou Leave Me? [3:50]
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Der Kusse, Op. 128 [1:57]
Adelaide, Op. 46 [5:39]
Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)
Du bist wie eine Blume, Op. 25, No. 24 [2:12]
Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)
Meine Liebe ist grün, Op.63 No.5 [1:13]
Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949)
Wiegenlied, Op. 41, No. 1 [3:49]
Wie sollten wir geheim sie halten, Op. 19, No. 4 [1:41]
Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
Ave Maria [5:30]
Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918)
Beau Soir [2:36]
Georges BIZET (1838-1875)
Adieux de l'hôtesse arabe [3:52]
Marc-Antoine CHARPENTIER (1860-1956)
Louise: Depuis le jour [4:47]
Gabriel GROVLEZ (1879-1944)
Guitares et mandolins [2:01]
Robert Nathaniel DETT (1882-1943)
My Day [2:47]
Samuel COLERIDGE-TAYLOR (1875-1912)
She Rested By the Broken Brook [3:18]
Thou Art Risen, My Belovéd [2:30]
Cecil COHEN (1894-1967)
Epitaph for a Poet [1:58]
Lead Me To the Water arr. William Lawrence [2:32]; I'm Seekin' For a City arr. Ernest Hayes [1:40]; I'm Goin' to tell God All My Troubles arr R Nathaniel Dett [3:06]; Ride On, Jesus arr R Nathaniel Dett [1:38]; Ev'ry Time I Feel the Spirit arr R Nathaniel Dett [1:54]; Were You There - Traditional [3:38]
Dorothy Maynor (soprano)
Arpad Sandor (piano)
Texts and translations included
rec. 18 December 1940, live at the Library of Congress Coolidge Auditorium

Jan DeGaetani (mezzo soprano)
Charles IVES (1874-1954)
Down East [3:14]
Two Little Flowers [1:10]
Tom Sails Away [2:46]
The See’r [0:43]
Songs My Mother Taught Me [2:25]
The Side Show [0:26]
The White Gulls [2:39]
West London [3:09]
Afterglow [1:56]
George CRUMB (b.1929)
Apparition [22:50]
Gilbert Kalish (piano and amplified piano)
Texts included
rec. October-November 1982



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