LABELS: Arte Nova
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Susan B Anthony
WORKS: Arias by Chausson, Menotti, Wagner & Strauss
PERFORMER: Susan B Anthony (soprano); Slovak RSO Bratislava/Ivan Anguélov
CATALOGUE NO: 74321 86894 2
If the American soprano Susan B Anthony (active mostly in Europe) has any connection with the identically named American pioneer of women’s rights, the biography included with this disc does not say. But then the documentation here is as minimal as the selection of repertoire – Chausson, Menotti, Wagner and Strauss – is unusual. It is possible to deduce that nearly all the roles featured are ones which she has sung on stage, a positive detail that can hardly be taken for granted, but you have to have heard her in the theatre to know that she is an exciting performer of glamorous presence. Little of that comes across on disc. Perhaps it all points to today’s shortage of real hochdramatische sopranos, and the fact that some performers well worth hearing live do not stand up to the scrutiny of microphones.
With a strong, vibrant soprano of brightness at the top – and, admittedly, less than perfect intonation – Susan B Anthony has Wagnerian qualities. Indeed, Chausson’s Le roi Arthus, music that is Wagnerian up to a point, brings out the best in her, and Guinevere’s aria has moments of quiet intensity. The arias from Lohengrin and Tannhäuser, not helped by patchy playing from the Slovakian orchestra under Ivan Anguélov, sound more laboured, and in the Strauss selection it is with the closing scene from Salome that she makes the greatest theatrical impression. John Allison