Victoria de los Angeles The Early Recordings, 1942-53
It was a revelation when I first heard the golden voice of Victoria de los Angeles, around the time when most of the recordings on this disc were being made. Having heard a recital on the radio, I promptly went out to the nearest record shop the next morning, and spent an hour or so deciding which of half-a-dozen issues I was going to buy. I chose a ten-inch 78 of two Respighi songs, and my first delight in this collection of glowing performances has been to hear again those two magical performances – Stornellatrice, with the golden voice at its richest and E se un giorno tornasse, a study in subtle shading of tone, a dialogue between a mother and her dying, jilted daughter. For those two brief items alone, superbly transferred, this collection is an essential for all admirers of this singer, but there is so much more.
Having Handel’s “O had I Jubal’s lyre” in German may be odd, but the performance has even more sparkle than her later reading in English, and among the Lieder it is good to have not just “Der Nussbaum” – the Schumann song which was always special to her – but two previously unpublished, “Widmung” from the Myrthe songs and “Ich grolle nicht” from Dichterliebe.
Through the whole collection the superb transfers capture the full-throated glory of los Angeles’s voice at the beginning of her career. In absolute terms the 1942 recordings of two Hungarian folk-songs, previously unpublished, may be rough and limited – made in Barcelona when the singer was only 18 – but they amply demonstrate that already the voice was fully developed in its beauty. No fewer than 18 of the 27 items are of Spanish songs, and though in one or two instances los Angeles was destined to make even more idiomatic readings later with a Spanish accompanist, these ones with Gerald Moore as her partner have a freshness and brilliance that has rarely been matched in this repertory. In particular it is good to have her first recording of the encore number which she made her own, Clavelitos, never more sparkling than here.'