Elsie Suddaby (1893-1980) - Volume 2
Vaughan Williams showed a fine appreciation of Elsie Suddaby’s qualities when he assigned to her the most delicate, and most nearly Elizabethan, passage in his Serenade to Music. Yet my own memory of her is that it was by no means such a slender, ‘little-miss’ voice as records (including that one) had led me to expect. Listeners to this second disc devoted to her recordings (and indeed to its predecessor, 4/95) might like to bear this in mind: there are times here when she sounds almost the very archetype, if not the Anna Russell-caricature, of the foreigner’s idea of the English soprano as a species (“she’s very s-weet”) and that does not do justice to the strength, not of volume but of character and projection, which her singing embodied.
The recordings themselves differ in their representation of her tone quality. In some it is almost needly-sharp, in others embarrassingly girlish. As in Vol. 1, it is not until the wartime recordings on Decca that the mellower and more faithful sound is caught. Loch Lomond (1942) is in some ways best of all.
We must be grateful to the enthusiasts who have produced these two volumes, but, if only in the interests of future additions to the series, a plea must be entered for more thorough documentation.