Arias & songs

COMPOSERS: Bizet,Gounod,Massenet,Schumann,Wagner
LABELS: Claremont
PERFORMER: CLARENCE WHITEHILL
CATALOGUE NO: CD GSE 78 50 82 ADD mono

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The Metropolitan Opera in New York was a leading venue for the performance of Wagner’s works beginning in its second season (1884-5). Until 1891, performers included many with whom Wagner himself had worked.

From the mid-1890s to 1917 the Met became in effect a laboratory for developing a performance style that would realise the musical potential of Wagner’s works, as singers who favoured the vivid declamation promoted by Cosima Wagner at Bayreuth alternated with those who offered different kinds of vocal opulence and mastery.

Each approach influenced the others, so that the mid-Twenties inaugurated a quarter-century during which great casts achieved an ideal synthesis of song and declamation. Several recent releases document this history.

Gadski’s Met colleagues included the Dutch tenor JACQUES URLUS (whose Edison recordings appear on Marston) and the American baritone CLARENCE WHITEHILL (Claremont has assembled a representative selection of his recordings).

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Both are gentlemanly singers who bring line and sensitivity to Wagner while lacking the range of temperament and vocal force that would characterise a later generation. Still, Urlus’s Lohengrin and Whitehill’s Wotan and Amfortas are honourable achievements.