Monday, January 11, 2016

Sing it, Monsieur Souzay

Yesterday after church I stopped by Amvets and I bought one (1) record. It was 17 songs by Richard Strauss sung by Gerard Souzay. Gerard Souzay has made one appearance on this Web log before. But I really knew very little about him. I just know I love Strauss songs.

End result, as we say here in Buffalo, I have listened to the record twice. I just liked it.

Souzay does not have the passionate approach I love to certain songs, I found myself thinking as I listened. He is too... French. I read today that Souzay specialized in French melodie... the French answer to German lieder, which to be honest, I do not get the appeal of melodie too much.

But coming from this background he brings a certain something to the Strauss songs. If he does not "get" the raw sensuality of some of them he gets the wit of others. And...

Oh my goodness me.

Here I go looking on YouTube for some example of what I mean. And I find these films of Monsieur Souzay in what looks like the 1950s, singing this stuff.

This changes everything.

This guy is something! I listened to him singing "Zeuignung" -- it means "Dedication" -- and he's insanely good. Handsome devil, too. All this passion comes through that did not on this record I have, or else maybe I did not hear it. I will have to listen to it again.

Here he is with "Serenade." If you do not know this song, it is a very sexy song. He is inviting you to slip away with him in the dark, to be quiet so nobody hears, etc....

This song, like all of Strauss' songs, has a wonderful piano accompaniment. Souzay's pianist was Dalton Baldwin, excellent. Make sure you watch Souzay through the end of the video. The end of the song thrilled me when I was a teenager. "And in the morning, when the rose blooms, it will glow from the bliss of the night." Watch his face.

Wow, what a live one! You never see anyone going for broke the way he does singing these songs. He really feels it! He is thinking of every line of that song. In all my years listening to Lieder I have honestly never seen anything like this.

One person comments on the "Zeuignung" video, "I studied with him three years." How would you study with this guy? You would walk in and not be able to sing. Imagine him looking at you. Imagine him saying, "No, you should sing it like this." That French aspect I was criticizing before, he turned that into a strength, that is for sure.

Anyway. There is a lot out there waiting to be explored. And I will explore it.

Merci, Monsieur Souzay!

Merci, Amvets!