B. Royce

Pons, Rachmaninoff

9 posts in this topic

Here is the great Lily Pons singing Rachmaninoff's Vocalise. It is one of the most beautiful and dramatic renderings which I have heard.

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This piece, as sung by Anna Moffo, was the spark that got me loving classical music in the first place.

Thank you for the surprise nostalgia, I had not heard this rendition before.

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This piece, as sung by Anna Moffo, was the spark that got me loving classical music in the first place.

Thank you for the surprise nostalgia, I had not heard this rendition before.

You're welcome. Many years ago I heard another very unique and emotionally powerful rendition by an orchestra conducted by Koussevitsky, in which he slowed the tempo by about a third and was able to express the ultimate of longing.

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Many years ago I heard another very unique and emotionally powerful rendition by an orchestra conducted by Koussevitsky, in which he slowed the tempo by about a third and was able to express the ultimate of longing.

"Vocalise" always struck me as the music that uniquely expressed a woman's longing. Listening to Perlman's violin version of Rachmaninoff's "song without words" (

), I hear these words as its lyrics:
You, [...] whoever you are, whom I have always loved and never found, you whom I expected to see at the end of the rails beyond the horizon, you whose presence I had always felt in the streets of the city and whose world I had wanted to build, it is my love for you that had kept me moving, my love and my hope to reach you and my wish to be worthy of you on the day when I would stand before you face to face. Now I know that I shall never find you—that it is not to be reached or lived—but what is left of my life is still yours, and I will go on in your name, even though it is a name I'll never learn, I will go on serving you, even though I'm never to win, I will go on, to be worthy of you on the day when I would have met you, even though I won't.…

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Many years ago I heard another very unique and emotionally powerful rendition by an orchestra conducted by Koussevitsky, in which he slowed the tempo by about a third and was able to express the ultimate of longing.

"Vocalise" always struck me as the music that uniquely expressed a woman's longing. Listening to Perlman's violin version of Rachmaninoff's "song without words" (

), I hear these words as its lyrics:
You, [...] whoever you are, whom I have always loved and never found, you whom I expected to see at the end of the rails beyond the horizon, you whose presence I had always felt in the streets of the city and whose world I had wanted to build, it is my love for you that had kept me moving, my love and my hope to reach you and my wish to be worthy of you on the day when I would stand before you face to face. Now I know that I shall never find you—that it is not to be reached or lived—but what is left of my life is still yours, and I will go on in your name, even though it is a name I'll never learn, I will go on serving you, even though I'm never to win, I will go on, to be worthy of you on the day when I would have met you, even though I won't.…

Thanks, B. Royce, for the link. Although I have never been a particular fan of Miss Pons, she does sing beautifully here (if, perhaps, a bit too "bright" toned for my tastes). Indeed, my only problem with the clip is that it is incomplete . . . the opening section and its variated repeat as well as the agitated middle section of the piece are so important from a propulsive dramatic perspective. Unfortunately, we don't hear Miss Pons singing these here.

The complete piece, with soprano, can be heard

, with Renee Fleming.

Incidentally, one of the most stunning performances of Vocalise I can recall was by the great Galina Vishnevskaya in the mid-1970s during one of her recitals. Needless to say, the powerfully dramatic, dark-toned, Mme. Vishnevskaya was a vocal animal of a decidedly different color than Miss Pons. This was a very . . . Russian . . . performance that, I think, could only have been the product of the experience of someone of Mme.'s generation of Russian women.

Betsy, you hit the nail on the head!

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Vespasiano, thank you for the link to Renee Fleming, though I am not one of her fans. For me, she sings the Vocalise with too little intensity.

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Vespasiano, thank you for the link to Renee Fleming, though I am not one of her fans. For me, she sings the Vocalise with too little intensity.

Indeed. Miss Fleming's rendition is certainly beautiful from a purely vocal standpoint -- long-lined, rich, full, voluptuous (in my view, more so than a voice such as Miss Pons' could muster). In addition, her trills are, oddly, superior to those of the coloratura Miss Pons. However, it is all delivered in a rather calm or placid -- even languorous -- manner, which robs the music of the urgency that underlies it. I actually have much the same reaction to the otherwise lovely recording by Anna Moffo.

But, hey . . . this piece necessarily invites the soprano's personal temperament into its colors. I'll take 'em all if they're sung well!

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Vespasiano, thank you for the link to Renee Fleming, though I am not one of her fans. For me, she sings the Vocalise with too little intensity.

Indeed. Miss Fleming's rendition is certainly beautiful from a purely vocal standpoint -- long-lined, rich, full, voluptuous (in my view, more so than a voice such as Miss Pons' could muster). In addition, her trills are, oddly, superior to those of the coloratura Miss Pons. However, it is all delivered in a rather calm or placid -- even languorous -- manner, which robs the music of the urgency that underlies it. I actually have much the same reaction to the otherwise lovely recording by Anna Moffo.

But, hey . . . this piece necessarily invites the soprano's personal temperament into its colors. I'll take 'em all if they're sung well!

Well said. And I agree with you about the Moffo recording as well. But yes, at least there is good singing from all three.

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This piece, as sung by Anna Moffo, was the spark that got me loving classical music in the first place.

Thank you for the surprise nostalgia, I had not heard this rendition before.

You're welcome. Many years ago I heard another very unique and emotionally powerful rendition by an orchestra conducted by Koussevitsky, in which he slowed the tempo by about a third and was able to express the ultimate of longing.

I had a similar experience when I heard a recording by Gary Kass. It sounded much slower than Anna Moffo's version, which at the time was my only exposure to the piece. Anyhow, thanks again.

I always get a kick out of Vespasiano's and your own posts in this sub-forum. So a thanks to him goes out as well.

Keep that great tracks rolling.

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