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Lebendige Vergangenheit: Ninon Vallin
Vincenzo Bellini, Georges Bizet, Arrigo Boito
Lebendige Vergangenheit: Ninon Vallin
Genre: Classical


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La Princesse du Chant
Charlus | NYC | 02/10/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Ninon Vallin (1886-1961) is generally aknowledged to have been the leading French soprano singer of the 1920-1940 period. She had a rich, steady, perfectly produced voice that triumphed in all manner of rôles from Adina in L'elisir d'amore to Elsa in Lohengrin. Her great starring part was probably Manon, although she was also a famous Tosca and Carmen. Marguerite (in Faust) and Thaïs were also noted assumptions in her repertoire. She was a world-renowned recitalist; a great favourite with audiences.

She recorded alternatively for Pathé and Odéon, leaving over 400 disks; here she is shown in the early 30s, pushing 50, but you'd never know it: she is in complete command of every note, and, although some of these are her fourth recordings of some of these pieces, her involvement with the music and perfectly finished style are as accomplished as ever. STYLE is the key to Vallin's art: as an interpreter, she was exquisitely cool and specific; as a stylist, she represented a level of self-assurance and authenticity that we simply don't hear any more. Not for nothing was she known as the Princess of Song.

The Norma Casta Diva and the L' altra notte from Mefistofele show her command of the Italian language and idiom: her voice pure and sustained on the breath, the expression warm but contained within the musical line. Her fioritura, including a first-class trill, is quite neat.

In her great workhorse rôles, mentioned above, she is simply incomparable. She sings off the words, and her French enunciation is her glory: crystal-clear but never exaggerated, each syllable made into music, always heartfelt but never sentimental.

Why belabour the point? You cannot understand French vocal music unless you know Vallin's records. A universal artist with a clear cultural identity, a specific school of singing, she was the touchstone of a whole musical world.

Preiser have done their usual superb job in transferring these vintage platters, making this CD a real must.