LABELS: RCA Red Seal
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Leontyne Price Rediscovered
WORKS: Carnegie Hall Recital Debut, 28.2.65: works by Handel, Brahms, Barber,
PERFORMER: Leontyne Price (soprano); David Garvey (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 09026 63908 2 ADD
This is the first complete release of the soprano’s debut Carnegie Hall recital – only the Brahms Gypsy Songs and the Adriana Lecouvreur encore have previously appeared. It was recorded when Price was 38, and her voice, at its best, is on wonderful form, rich in colour and purveying a dark, smoky warmth.
Home territory assuredly is the Andrea Chénier aria, done mid-programme in a thrilling account, though she eschews the written, low ending. All the other operatic arias go well, though the high-lying Rondine extract appears to tax her on this occasion.
She proves an involving exponent of the songs by Samuel Barber (with whose music she was particularly associated) and the less well known but also finely wrought examples by Lee Hoiby. The spirituals are expert and inimitable.
She opens with Handel, but he doesn’t really suit her: too much drama at the expense of line. Nor does the Brahms set reveal a considered Lieder-singer’s approach. Yet Price’s Poulenc group combines a strong feeling for the Éluard texts with sensitivity to the nuances of the language. A mixed assortment, then – but the best is outstanding. George Hall