Gérard Souzay (1918–2004) was born into a musical family – his father was a cellist, and his two brothers and his sister all singers. Souzay chose to study philosophy at university, and it was only after a meeting with Pierre Bernac in Paris in 1942 that he was persuaded to enter the Paris Conservatoire to study singing. He entered the concert circuit shortly after the end of the Second World War, and soon displayed the qualities that would make him one of the great voices of the 20th century – a love of words and a superb technique that combined a fine tone with a natural gift for expression.
His obituaries in 2004 all commented on the qualities of his voice, and were full of epithets such as ‘warm’, ‘lyrical’, ‘supple’, ‘sensual’ and ‘vibrant’. He was keen not to be pigeonholed as a singer of French repertoire, and this 2 CD set vividly illustrates his mastery of Schubert’s lieder. The coupling of the composer’s freshest and most immediately appealing song-cycle, Die schöne Müllerin, with a generous selection of other, universally known lieder, is sure to have wide appeal beyond historical enthusiasts: the recordings are in excellent stereo.
New booklet notes by Lieder authority Richard Stokes.
‘Souzay’s interpretation makes a less virile figure of the miller’s apprentice than either of the others and perhaps, because of this, makes more credible the girl’s jilting of him for the black-bearded hunter (I’m sure his beard was black!), but there is plenty of passion in his singing and a smooth treatment of the two-note quaver groups. The climactic ends of the verses “Dein ist mein Herz”, etc. ring out as well in “Ungeduld” as in “Mein!”, and at all times one is aware of a carefully thought-out presentation, an expressive treatment of the words and a sensitive response to the changing moods. The many strophic songs have plenty of nuance, and Souzay holds the interest through the five verses of “Des Baches Wiegenlied”.’ Gramophone, June 1965
“This is cultivated, beautiful singing, and Baldwin is a most sensitive accompanist.”
The Independent on Sunday
25th July 2010
“This intimate 1961 performance of Die Schöne Müllerin is notable for its textural clarity and his often daringly soft dynamics, matched in Dalton Baldwin's lyrical accompaniment. Disc two's song selection features an effortlessly graceful "Heidenröslein" and a visceral reading of "Der Zwerg".”
Click on any of the works listed above for alternative recordings.