Victoria de los Angeles – Recital

An entrancing singer caught at the absolute height of her powers

Author: 
Alan Blyth

Victoria de los Angeles – Recital

  • (Le) Violette
  • Judas Maccabaeus, So shall the lute and harp awake
  • (Die) Schöne Müllerin, No. 11, Mein
  • Myrthen, No. 1, Widmung (wds. Rückert)
  • (6) Lieder, Nachtigall (wds. Reinhold)
  • (9) Lieder, No. 5, Junge Lieder I - Meine Liebe ist grün (wdn)
  • Pastorale
  • Vocalise-étude en forme de habanera
  • Dos Canciones
  • Canciones epigramáticas, El ritrato de Isabela
  • (20) Cantos populares españolas, Montañesa
  • (20) Cantos populares españolas, Paño murciano
  • Chiquitita la novia
  • Bonjour, Suzon!
  • Clavelitos
  • (La) Presumida
  • (Les) Nuits d'été, Villanelle
  • (Les) Nuits d'été, Le spectre de la rose
  • (Les) Nuits d'été, L'île inconnue

When Victoria de los Angeles appeared at the Edinburgh Festival in 1957, she was in her prime, the voice as supple and sensitive as it was beautiful. Everything she tackled seemed to be touched by the magic of her attractive presence and glorious singing.

If at the start of this recital, in Scarlatti and Handel, she seems to be in the process of warming up, once she reaches the Lieder she is into her stride. Good as her account of Schumann’s Widmung may be, it is when she gets to Brahms, perhaps her favourite composer in this genre, that she is wholly at home, the wistful sense of pain in Nachtigall caught to perfection. In the wordless pieces by Stravinsky and Ravel she floats that warm yet ethereal tone of hers with consummate ease, and the long-breathed phrasing and excellent French in Duparc’s mélodie are enhanced by this artist’s innate skill in word-painting.

For all that, audiences were always impatient for her to get to the Spanish part of her programme, for in this field she was unsurpassed as a singer and interpreter. The absence of texts and translations, unless you go to IMG’s website, is the only drawback to the enjoyment of a succession of pieces grave and gay, each one inflected with the soprano’s individual accents.

Many of these songs were also recorded by her in the studio, but the live occasion gives these performances an extra frisson. The encores are even better. An account of Clavelitos is a superior reading even to those famous ones available elsewhere. That is complemented by a delightfully insouciant account of the Delibes song, once recorded by Muzio, that she didn’t attempt on any other recorded occasion, I think.

Gerald Moore, as was his wont, manages to change idioms with his familiar virtuosity. The songs from the Berlioz cycle caught at another concert earlier in the year, welcome as they are, suffer from an only adequate accompaniment, no match for Munch’s support on the singer’s RCA account. As a whole, this is an invaluable addition to the singer’s extensive discography.

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