Liszt, plus Italian & Spanish songs

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Liszt,plus Italian & Spanish songs
LABELS: Claves
ALBUM TITLE: Gerard Souzay recital
WORKS: Angiolin; Deh girate
PERFORMER: Gerard SouzayDalton Baldwin
CATALOGUE NO: 50 2412
The first 20 tracks of this disc should perhaps carry a warning: ‘You are now entering a purism-free zone.’ Gérard Souzay always believed singers should take words seriously, and for him this precept took precedence over anything dictated by reverence or tradition, or indeed historical accuracy.

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Some of us think we know how, for example, Barbara Strozzi might have sung her own ‘Spesso per entro al petto’. But then again what we also know of her existence, occupying, as one dictionary puts it, ‘a difficult space somewhere between patron and courtesan’, suggests she might not have been too shocked by Souzay’s sudden diminuendos, by the staccato articulation of the last line of each verse, or by Dalton Baldwin’s grandiose envoi, complete with final bass plonk. The great thing is, these performances live.

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The transfers from LP are mostly excellent, apart from a too sudden fade at the end of Brunetti’s ‘Deh girate’ and, in Liszt’s delightful ‘Angiolin’, what sounds like a groove jump at 1:08 mins. Otherwise the Liszt selection, which won a Grand Prix du Disque in 1959, is pure joy. The final ‘Es muss ein Wunderbares sein’ brings tears to the eyes, reminding us what supreme artists both Liszt and Souzay were at their best. Roger Nichols