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Fryderyk CHOPIN (1810-1849)
Annette Céline – In Memorium
The Wish [1:45]
Spring [2:22]
The Sad Stream [3:06]
The Young [1:19]
The Messenger [2:17]
The Handsome Lad [2:32]
The Warrior [2:19]
Double Destiny [1:26]
My Darling [2:07]
Charm [1:41]
I Want What I Have Not [5:23]
Lithuanian Song [2:28]
Annette Céline (soprano)
Felicja Blumental (piano)
rec. c.1957
No texts or translations
BRANA LP BRLP034 [28:48]

The first thing to note is that this is a 180g LP and the second is the perpetuation of the misspelling in the title.

At the start of the millennium, Brana began a strong reissue programme focusing on the legacy of pianist Felicja Blumental, a number of which I reviewed. I also reviewed discs that included her soprano daughter Annette Céline, whose recent death has encouraged the release of this latest disc. Brazilian-born, she made LPs (for Decca and Vox amongst others) - the Maag-Domingo-Caballé Luisa Miller for Decca was her most well-known undertaking - and recorded on CD as late as 2003, wide-ranging repertoire that came far too late to do her any kind of justice. Those late silver discs did, however, show her remarkable linguistic facility, one that she demonstrates on this LP, which is devoted to a selection of Chopin songs, recorded around 1957.

One thing that intrigues me about LP reissues like this is what one does if one doesn’t have access to master tapes or if they have been destroyed or lost. That’s surely the case here, though there are no details as to provenance in the sleeve note. Otherwise why else would our old bęte noir, clicks, as well as rumble, occur - the former especially - on the earliest songs on side one. I can only assume that this has been transferred from an LP with a small amount of wear with clicks that could not be eradicated – or that the effort required wasn’t considered appropriate. In either case, it’s not ruinous and may engender those old school feelings of LP listening – a quiet gnashing of the teeth.

Céline wasn’t a major singer. She sang with both a limited compass and sense of colour. Her articulation is far better here, however, than in her later discs and she leaves a sympathetic impression in this repertoire aided by the astute pianism of her mother, whose discs invariably reveal a well turned and sympathetic performer at work; some of her Vox LPs were of little-known repertoire and served a very valuable function. Céline’s voice was at its freshest here and its most focused and its youthfulness is appropriate for many of the verdant songs to be found in this recital, as well as the slow and melancholic charms of The Sad Stream or the folkloric urgency of Charm, and the communicative joviality of the Lithuanian Song.
At just shy of 29 minutes this is a straight reproduction of the original LP. Whether you want its retro charms, assuming your LP deck is still up-and-running, largely depends on the two musicians involved. The CD version can be found on BR0038 with different cover art.

Jonathan Woolf

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