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Sonntag, 16. März 2014

Charles Panzéra singt Schumann und Duparc

Recently a blog-friend asked me if I have recordings of Charles Panzéra. I remembered an EMI Références-LP from the 80ies and transfered it the last days. And it was a rediscovery for me: such a fine singer! His French recordings have the original perfume they should have, and also his Dichterliebe is notably well sung in German. The only Lied where my taste is different is "Hör ich das Liedchen klingen", where he seems to me rhytmically unstable und sings dotted notes where should be none.

The EMI No. for this LP was 7610591. It even bears an EAN (5099976105913) - but his is not known to Google. He is accompanied by Alfred Cortot in the Dichterliebe and by his wife Magdeleine Panzéra-Baillot in the 12 Duparc melodies. Dichterliebe was recorded 17. and 18.VI.1935, the Duparc was recorded between 1935 and 1937 (see details below).

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The sleeve notes:

"Suffused with the immortal fragrance..."

These words are those of Charles Panzera himself, quoted in the booklet accompanying his recording of Duparc's songs published some thirty years ago in 1958 by Gravures Illustres, illustrious forbear of References. Panzera had deliberately turned away from a stage career that the success of his Pelleas would readily have facilitated. He deliberately concentrated the essence of an art bordered by intimacy, on the word, on meaning, on inflexion, on care given  to  sound, because his vocation was communication. As a result, he did not draw his Inspiration from the works themselves, as do artists seeking some emotional stimulus in them, counting on instinct to set the right tone, to find the right phrases. Panzera breathed. For him the written work was an inexhaustible treasure, an imperishable fragrance, as in Fauré. He savoured it, indeed through its fragrances he listened to it, attentive to aromas, to a whole impressionist atmosphere it is up to the artist to render. Panzera was in some respects the alchemist of that simplicity: like a reserved and fascinated Parsifal in Klingsor's garden where the flowers are called Faure, Duparc, Schumann. This kind of relationship to song remains unique. The garden of French art songs is full of dangers, but these are admittedly  lesser where Duparc is concerned: his poets are very generally good, Baudelaire and the best of Leconte de Lisle. But it cannot be denied in Faure the poem is often sickly sweet, with stiff, artificial, unfortunate verse. This was no obstacle to our ingenuous Parsifal. He still breathed  in the flower's perfume, steeped himself in it and gave it the best possible rendition. Referring to Panzera's art, Bernard Gavoty made one of his most exquisite remarks (and at the same time delightfully unkind for the others), pointing out that Panzera was able to sing "l love you" whereas his young successors, often narcissistic, could only sing "l adore myself". Panzéra loved what he sang, and what he sang more often than not said "l love you”. Whether in Fauré or in Schumann. For the garden of French art song is somewhat akin to a salon, and Schumann, Schumann in love, was not out of place in it. The combination of Dichterliebe and of L’invitation au voyage, of Schumann and Duparc, both much loved by Panzera ar both equally well served by him, thus has something foreordained about it. In Schumann, Panzera's pianist was Alfred Cortot, making this an historic recording from the outset; in the Duparc — as in almost all his other recordings and in all his recitals - Magdeleine Baillot, his lifelong companion. Concerted singing, this was Panzera's express motto. He could not conceive of presenting himself to the public, or before microphones, without this absolutely concerted communion that can only be had with those to whom we are bound by a passionate affinity. In Schumann the pianist from Nyon and the barytone from Geneva tempered German harshness (whatever Heine's penetrating and subtly bitter verse) with something akin to French good manners and, in sorrow as in invective, with buttoned swords. In Duparc, what a passionate reading to allow the piano to express the orchestra, a world of sounds, and the harmonic virtualities it encloses, so that the words then had only to speak! This was the secret of Panzera's art: this rigour and this minuteness, tinged however with fervour, devoid of stiffness or dogmatism, infinitely prepared, like an Initiation to love. For, modest and reserved as he was, Panzera had the marvellous, unique immodesty only to sing through love, and in order to share love. And indeed the atmosphere of a recital, where a man in black is there alone, without makeup or disguise, to bring others to share all the emotions of the heart, lends itself admirably to this commerce of feelings. A Panzera recital was a concerted communion between his pianist and himself and between his public and him, a spontaneous yet complete and consummated communion. Roland Barthes savoured this bourgeois and artistic consensus with the palate of a gourmet.
Who today sings Schumann as if it were the music of a sighing lover? The bitterness, the reproaches, so cruelly present in Heine, wash off on the Schumann of the Dichterliebe. And who still sings Duparc with the simplicity of wonder? Just as others, exhibitionists of the stage or concert hall, are Singers with a voice, so Panzera sought and succeeded in being a singer with a heart. Could he be the last?
Andre Tubeuf (translated by Elizabeth Carroll)

Hier ist eine sehr schöne EMI Références-LP mit Charles Panzéra. Er singt die Dichterliebe - mit für einen Franzosen hochkorrektem Deutsch, schöner Stilistik und einem herrlichen Legato. Einzig das Lied "Hör ich das Liedchen klingen" erscheint mir etwas verunglückt: er setzt verschleppt ein, übertreibt die Punktierungen und überbetont die Taktzeiten. Dadurch fällt dieses Lied für meine Geschmack etwas auseinander - aber das ist kritteln auf einem sehr hohen Niveau: andere sollen so eine lyrische Dichterliebe erst einmal nachmachen!

Die Aufnahmen stammen von 1935 bis 1937.

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Panzéra, Charles, Bariton, * 16.2.1896 Genf, † 6.6.1976 Paris; er diente während des Ersten Weltkrieges freiwillig in der französischen Armee und wurde zweimal verwundet. Dann Gesangstudium am Conservatoire National in Paris. Er debütierte 1919 an der Opéra-Comique Paris als Albert im »Werther« von Massenet. In den folgenden drei Jahren sang er an der Opéra-Comique, wo man ihn besonders als Pelléas in »Pelléas et Mélisande« von Debussy bewunderte. 1920 wirkte er dort in der Uraufführung der Oper »Le Roi Candaule« von Alfred Bruneau, 1920 auch in der von »Le Sauteriot« von Sylvio Lazzari, 1921 in der der Oper »Dans l'ombre de la Cathédrale« von Georges Hüe mit. Gabriel Fauré widmete dem Künstler seinen Liederzyklus »L'Horizon chimérique«. Die Uraufführung dieses Werks am 13.5.1922 in Paris gestaltete sich zu einem sensationellen Erfolg. 1924 sang er in der Pariser Kirche Ste. Madeleine beim Tauergottesdienst für Gabriel Fauré das Bariton-Solo in dessen Requiem. Er galt allgemein als einer der größten Lied-Interpreten seiner Epoche. Konzertreisen trugen ihm in den Musikmetropolen in Europa wie in Amerika glänzende Erfolge ein. Mit Komponisten wie Arthur Honegger, Darius Milhaud, Albert Roussel, Vincent d'Indy und Guy Ropartz verband ihn eine herzliche Freundschaft; viele ihrer Lieder wurden durch den großen Sänger kreiert. So brachte er die Liedzyklen »Amphion« (1931) und »Cris du monde« (1932) von Arthur Honegger zur Uraufführung. Er war auch ein großer Interpret des deutschen Kunstliedes von Schubert bis Hugo Wolf und sang klassische Vokalwerke von Lully, Rameau, Händel, J.S. Bach und anderen Meistern. Seit 1926 gab er alljährlich Liederabende in England und Holland. Auf der Bühne trat er nur noch selten in Erscheinung, meistens als Pelléas, den er u.a. in Amsterdam und Florenz sang. Bei seinen Liederabenden wurde er oft durch seine Gattin, die Pianistin Magdeleine Panzéra-Baillot, am Flügel begleitet. Nachdem er zeitweilig an der Juilliard Musikschule in New York unterrichtet hatte, war er seit 1946 in Paris als Gesanglehrer tätig und erhielt 1951 eine Professur am Conservatoire National de Paris, die er bis 1966 wahrnahm. 1956 beendete er seine Konzertlaufbahn. Er ist der Verfasser mehrerer pädagogischer Werke (»L'Art de chanter«, 1945; »L'Amour de chanter«, 1957; »50 Melodies françaises, leçons de style et d'interprétation«). - Die Wärme und der Ausdrucksreichtum seiner Stimme ließen ihn im Liedgesang, zumal im Vortrag des impressionistischen französischen Liedes, Leistungen von größter Eindringlichkeit vollbringen.

Lit: M. Fabre: »Souvenirs de Magdeleine et de Charles Panzéra« (Paris, 1972).

Seine Schallplatten erschienen ausnahmslos auf HMV (u.a. »La damnation de Faust« von Berlioz, in erster Linie jedoch Lied-Aufnahmen, darunter »Dichterliebe« von R. Schumann, Lieder von Debussy, Ravel, Duparc, »L'Horizon chimérique« und »La bonne Chanson« von Gabriel Fauré, »Danse des morts« von A. Honegger).
[Lexikon: Panzéra, Charles. Kutsch/Riemens: Sängerlexikon, S. 18535 (vgl. Sängerlex. Bd. 4, S. 2647 ff.) (c) Verlag K.G. Saur]

Freitag, 7. März 2014

Alexander Kipnis: Rare Recordings Vol. 3 - Opera live Recordings

Alexander Kipnis and Jarmila Novotna in Zauberflöte, Salzburg 1937 

The third Playlist begins with two excerpts of a Zauberflöte from the Salzburger Festspiele 1937. I don't know if it the production was filmed on a separate date or if we hear a real live performance. The sound comes from two film exerpts of the RAVAG (Austrian Radio Company) and was published on the Pearl LP you see at the bottom of this article.

Die Zauberflöte (Mozart):

 1.  Man führe Tamino...O Isis und Osiris
 2.  Morden soll ich?...In diesen heiligen Hallen

Track 2 with Jarmila Novotna (Pamina), William Werningk (Monostatos)
rec. 30.VII.1937, Salzburger Festspiele, Cond. Arturo Toscanini

A very famous recording is the Don Giovanni from the Met conducted by Bruno Walter from 1942 with Ezio Pinza, Bidu Sayao, Charles Kullmann, Jarmila Novotna and Rose Bampton. It is worth listening to in full lenght. Here is the only solo of Kipnis as Leporello:

Don Giovanni (Mozart)

3. Madamina, el catalogo e questo

Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Cond. Bruno Walter, rec. 7.III.42

Another complete Met broadcast, which shows Kipnis in a role not very typical for him (even if he sang it a few times) is the Pelleas from 1945. Kipnis sings Arkel, the Grandfather of Golaud and "King of Allemonde" (in French) - another challenging role of a King and Father like Phillip in Don Carlos or King Marke in Tristan. It is a medium extensive role, and you have here all the important scenes with Kipnis.

Pelleas et Melisande (Debussy) 

 4. Act IV - Scene 2 - Maintenant que le pere de Pelleas

5.-7. Act 5 Finale: Qu'avez-vous faites?...Qu'y a-t-il...Attention, attention!

Alexander Kipnis (Arkel), Bidu Sayao (Melisande), Lawrence Tibbett (Golaud), Lorenzo Alvary (Physician)
Orch. of the Metropolitan Opera, Cond. Emil Cooper, rec. 13.I.1945

Now comes the highlight of this playlist, the thrilling portrait of Hunding in the first act of "Die Walküre".

Die Walküre (Wagner) 1. Aufzug

 8. Müd am Herd fand ich den Mann
 9. Friedmund darf ich nicht heissen
10. Die so leidig Los Dir beschied, nicht liebte Dich die Norn
11. Ich weiss ein wildes Geschlecht

Alexander Kipnis (Hunding), Lauritz Melchior (Siegmund), Astrid Varnay (Sieglinde)
Orch. of the Metropolitan Opera, Cond. Erich Leinsdorf, rec. 06.XII.1941

The Tristan Monologue in full lenght:

Tristan und Isolde (Wagner)

12. Tatest du's wirklich (Marke's Monolugue Act 2)

Orch. of the Metropolitan Opera, Cond. Erich Leinsdorf, rec. 06.II.1943

Kipnis in Don Carlo

At last here are two rarities, but not every rarity must be a pleasure to listen to. In the 1990ies, Koch Schwann published a bulk of newly transferd live recordings of the Vienna State Opera. They were made by Hermann May, who had the permisson to record live from behind the stage scenes of actual live performances. He did so on a relatively primitve eqipment, and so the technical quality of the recordings often demands a lot of concentration to find the treasures that are kept hidden in the recordings. The recordings were published on 24 double-CDs. I bought a few of them then, but I do not have access to all of them. A few contained live recordings of Alexander Kipnis. The first is a compilation of two performances of Don Carlo, recorded in December 1936 and January 1937 with Kipnis as Filippo, published on Vol. 10 (and provided by my blog-friend Darren).

The recordings given here include all recorded scenes where Kipnis sings, which means that tracks 17 and 19 from the CD are omitted in my compilation. They are given as tracks 13 to 17 of my playlist. The recordings include some mass scenes, the scene with the grand inquisitor and the monologue of Phillip. The discs on which the performances were recorded were short, and so we always only get snippets. You can get an impression how it may have sounded in Vienna, and other recordings of the edition show important singers like Henny Trundt and Todor Mazaroff, who have not recorded otherwise, but sometimes it is a bit exhausting to listen to these recordings. But still we get a fascinating portrait given by Kipnis, and the duet with Alfred Jerger is captivating. In track 18 (No. 16 in my playlist) Kipnis dominates the scene.

Kipnis as Mephisto

If you haven't got enough by now, here is a second performance from Vienna. It is a "Margarete" snippet from 7.III.1937, published in Vol. 4 of the CDs. Kipnis sings just about the first 15 seconds, but, alas, it is his only live recording of this opera.

Faust (or Margarethe) (Gounod)

18. Auf eilet, auf eilet (Trio Act 5)

Alexander Kipnis (Mephisto), Esther Rethy (Margarethe), Jussi Björling (Faust)
Orchester der Wiener Staatsoper, cond. Josef Krips

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A list of Kipnis live performances you can find here:

What I really would like to hear is his Parsifal under Fritz Busch from Teatro Colon 1936, published by Ward Marston. If one of my readers could provide me with a copy, I really would be thankful.
There is also a "Rosenkavalier" from the same place and year, also with Busch, which I have never heard and find desirable.

As a PS. I give you a few informations about the Pearl GEMM LP 277/78. It contains his acoustic recordings and some unissued takes from HMV, which do not really sound different to the published ones and were cut on the same day as the ones that are on the Preiser CDs. The recordings came from the collection of Kipnis' son Igor, a reputed harpsichordist.

Pearl Double-LP GEMM 277/78

PEARL Gemm 277/78 tracks (1)

PEARL Gemm 277/78 tracks (2)

So, this has become a long playlist with 85 minutes - I hope not too long for you. Today, when it is published in my blog, it will be exactly 72 years ago when Bruno Walter's famous Don Giovanni was recorded at the Met (see my track 3) and exactly 77 years after the last track of my playlist, the Faust excerpt, was performed...

Sonntag, 2. März 2014

Alexander Kipnis: Rare Recordings Vol. 2 (Lied)

Here is the second playlist with rarer Kipnis material. This time it is again Lieder recordings or recordings with piano accompaniment.

Kipnis in 1918

Playlist: Alexander Kipnis - Rare Recordings vol. 2

At first, here are some Schubert recordings. They all come from the same LP where Schumann's Dichterliebe was published (see HIER  ) and only bear the label "Stockholm 1936". The fiery "Aufenthalt" is with audience, the other ones could be from a live recital or from broadcasts. The accompanist is not given. The "Gute Nacht" only includes the first verse (from four), then it is faded out. It gives us a glimpse of what a complete "Winterreise" by Kipnis could have been... 

 1.  Aufenthalt (Schubert)
 2.  Der Wanderer (Schubert)
 3.  Erlkönig (Schubert)
 4.  Gute Nacht (Schubert) 

Unknown accompanist, "Stockholm 1936"

At next come three Hugo Wolf Lieder. They were recorded for the "Hugo Wolf Society", but were not published there. When EMI released the complete recordings on 5 CDs some years ago, they were included, but they can not be found on the Music+Arts Double-CD. They are here in the Playlist as No. 5 to 7.

Then come three recordings with piano accompaniment, which are no Lieder but arias from Händel. The third one, "with apologies to Händel" by Diack, gives a childish text adapted to a Händel aria.

 8.  Berenice: Si tra i ceppi (Händel)
 9.  Ariodante: Al sen ti stringo e parto (Händel)
10. Little Jack Horner (Diack, with apologies to Haendel)

8.+9. Diskography Nos. 37-38, with Arthur Bergh, piano, rec. ca. March 1930
10. with Ernst Victor Wolff, Diskography No. 111, rec. 30.IX.1940

The next group contains some Russian Lieder, sung in Russian.

11. The Captive (Gretchaninov)
12. Over the Steppe (Gretchaninov)
13. O could I express but in sorrow (Malashkin)
14. Tilin bom (Stravinsky)
15. The Harvest of Sorrow (Rachmaninov)
16. O cease thy singing, maiden fair (Rachmaninov)

with Celius Dougherty, piano, rec. Nov. 1939 (Diskography Nos. 90 and 93-96)

At last, there is a snippett from an Interview with Kipnis with Robert Sherman from (the broacast ?) "The Listening Room" about the difference between Lied and Opera Singing. It sounds like at the end of his career he prefered Lieder recitals to opera singing because in that way he could be his "own Toscanini".

17. Interview with Kipnis (no date given)

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All these recordings are very fine interpretations, with not a single track which is not satisfying. Especially the Russian repertoire is something I am not accustomed to (except track 13,which I knew from early collecting days in the interpretation of Chaliapine), but has a great attraction with its sad undertones. The unpublished track 16 was taken from the RCA Vocal Series CD, and the Little Jack Horner of track 10 was taken from Youtube - not the best sound, but enough to get known to the recording. (I saw the disc listed often in auction lists, but I did not hear it until I began to deal with collecting and rehearsing all my Kipnis recordings a few weeks ago and tried to fill the gaps...)
I had some technical problems with track 7 which was fine as a Wave file but had heavy distortions at a certain place (around 1'25'') as soon as I changed it to MP3. I hope that I got it fixed now: It sounds okay while listeing to it but still looks and sounds terrible when I open the MP3 file with my WavePurity program. I never experienced something like this and could not solve the problem. I hope on your listening equipment it sounds good, too.

The third part of the Rare Recordings will be devoted to Opera live recordings of Alexander Kipnis.

I recommed strongly to read the articles from "The Record Collector" about the career of Kipnis and personal memories about his opera activities in Berlin. You can find it in my second blog: