R E C O R D I N G S  

CD_8_TR_17_Cantata_Academia_Britten_48.mp3





COMPOSER WORK DATE LABEL CURRENCY
 
ARNE JUDGEMENT OF PARIS 1953 DECCA (EXTRACT) DECCA 2002 REISSUE 28947 03722
CPE BACH MAGNIFICAT
GERANT JONES SINGERS/JONES
1965 HMV CSD 1612

JC BACH

CANZONETS OP 4
BOYD NEEL ORCH/DART

 

  OISEAU LYRE OL50132
BEETHOVEN MASS IN C
LPO/BEECHAM
1959 HMV EMI 2005 COMPILATION
724358650426

BEETHOVEN

SYMPHONY 9
LSO/KRIPS

 

    MACADY 2006 REISSUE TC252319
CD5
BRITTEN CANTATA ACADEMICA 1961 DECCA DECCA 2005 REISSUE COMPILATION SET 475 6040
BRITTEN LITTLE SWEEP
EOG/BRITTEN
1956 DECCA DECCA 2005 REISSUE COMPILATION SET 475 6040
BRITTEN OWEN WINGRAVE 1971 DECCA DECCA 2004 REISSUE
BRITTEN SPRING SYMPHONY
NYPO/BERNSTEIN
1963 US B’CAST NYP SOC 2000 BERSTEIN LIVE SET

BRITTEN

SPRING SYMPHONY
ROH/BRITTEN
1961 DECCA DECCA 436 396-2. ALSO COMPILATION SET DECCA 475 6040. ALSO EXTRACT: DECCA 1993 WORLD OF BRITTEN 436 990-2

BRITTEN

TURN OF THE SCREW
EOG/BRITTEN

1954

DECCA

DECCA REISSUE 1990 LONDON 425 672-2

ALSO DECCA COMPILATION REISSUE 2004 LONDON 475 6029

CROSSE CHANGES
LSO/DEL MAR
1969 DECCA ARGO LYRITA 2007 REISSUE
SRCD 259
GAY/BRITTEN BEGGAR’S OPERA
EOG/BRITTEN
1948 BBC B’CAST PEARL GEM0225
GAY/BLISS BEGGAR’S OPERA 1953 FILM SOUNDTRACK OPTIMUM DVD OPTD 1191
HANDEL MESSIAH
(ED.HERBAGE)
LPO/BOULT
1954 DECCA BELART 1999
REISSUE
461 629-2
HANDEL MESSIAH (ED.GOOSSENS)
RPO/BEECHAM
1960 RCA BMG 1992 REISSUE
RCA 09026-61266-2

HANDEL

SAUL
VIENNA SO/WOLDIKE

 

  VANGUARD BGS 5054/6
HANDEL SEMELE
NSO/LEWIS
1955 OISEAU LYRE REGIS REISSUE (EXTR) RRC 2078
HAYDN SCENA DI BERENICE, ST CECILIA MASS (EXCERPT) HAYDN ORCH/NEWSTONE 1958 DECCA LW5334
MENDELSSOHN MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM
LSO/MAAG
1957 DECCA DECCA 2000
REISSUE 289 466 990-2

MOZART

ARIAS
LPO/MAAG

  DECCA LW5247

MOZART

DIE ENTFUHRUNG (EXTRACT – FOR HISTORY OF MUSIC IN SOUND SERIES)

 

  HMV HLP17
MOZART LITANY K243
BOYD NEEL ORCH/LEWIS
1955 OISEAU LYRE OL 50086
MOZART LITANY K195
BOYD NEEL ORCH/LEWIS
1955 OISEAU LYRE OL50085
MOZART & HAYDN RECITAL
HAYDN ORCH/NEWSTONE
1960 DECCA ECS 635

PURCELL

FAIRY QUEEN
BOYD NEEL ORCH/LEWIS

  OISEAU LYRE OLS 121/3
PURCELL/BRITTEN FAIRY QUEEN
ECO/BRITTEN
1970 DECCA DECCA 2001 REISSUE 468561-2

PURCELL

SONGS/ARIAS
PHILOMUSICA LONDON/LEWIS

  OISEAU LYRE SOL 60002
SCARLATTI CANTATAS
DART (HPSCD)
1957 OISEAU LYRE OLS 154
SCHUMANN SCENES FROM FAUST
ECO/BRITTEN
1972 DECCA SET 567-8

VARIOUS

SONGS FROM SHAKESPEARE
ELIZABETHAN CONSORT/SACKLER

  SHAKESP REC SOC SRS –S-242
SONGS OF ENGLAND QUILTER, HOPKINS, PURCELL ETC
LUSH (PNO)

 
1953 DECCA BELART 1989 REISSUE 461 6252 10. ALSO INCL ON DECCA COMPILATION 470 195-2


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THE RECORDINGS: A COMMENTARY

Jennifer Vyvyan was making BBC broadcasts from the earliest days of her career, and at least one of those appearances survives on a commercial disc: her cameo role as Jenny Diver in Britten’s version of The Beggar’s Opera, relayed on radio in 1948 and years later made available on the Pearl label.

cda_track21_49.mp3


For comparison, she can also be heard (though not seen) as the voice of Lucy Lockit in a film version of Beggar’s Opera, done in an edition by Arthur Bliss that opened in London, June 1953, starring Laurence Olivier and is now available on DVD.

Her commercial recordings began in earnest in the early 50s with English songs that proved an enduring success – ‘a model to all’ said Records & Recording when they were reissued in the early 70s – and with the kind of baroque repertory to which her bright, transparently agile singing was a gift.



Examples : Purcell’s Nymphs and Shepherds

Nymphs_and_Shepherds__Purcell__50.mp3


and Thomas Arne’s O Ravishing Delight from his Judgement of Paris.

O_Ravishing_delight_51.mp3




 
Central to her stage and concert work, Handel featured on disc with a landmark 1955 release of Semele that, on reissue in 1971, sounded stiff and dated to a reviewer for the FT. But in its own time it was welcomed with astonishment, the Guardian noting Vyvyan’s ‘breathtaking fioritura’ and the Gramophone observing that ‘her tone is limpid, the line as steady as a ‘wonderboy’ cathedral treble… all in all her performance grows in stature as it proceeds, and in human warmth too’.

CD_D_Tr_1_Handel_52.mp3




 
There were two recordings of Messiah that were of huge significance in their day and remain key documents of an era when period performance issues were filtering through from the world of academia to the world of home-listening. First came Decca’s 1954 version under Boult that proudly advertised itself as ‘based on the autograph manuscripts’ as interpreted by the musicologist Julian Herbage.



When Andrew Porter made a survey for the Gramophone of the four available Messiahs on disc in 1954 – the others being Beecham on HMV from 1947, Scherchen on Nixa, Sargent on Columbia – it was the Boult/Decca version that he opted for, commending its smaller forces in the choir and singling out Vyvyan’s solo singing of If God be for us.

If_God_Be_For_Us_53.mp3



 
But five years later she was asked by Beecham to be in his new, all-’luxury’ Messiah, issued by RCA in 1960. And luxury here meant not only handsome packaging, in the format of a bound book with colour illustrations unusual for the time, but an edition of the score that was controversially enriched with modern brass and percussion. The broad critical response was that what Beecham’s did here was ‘outrageous’ but justified (up to a point) by the dimension, power and electricity in the reading.

Paradoxically for such an interventionist approach, he anticipated the direction of latterday historically-informed performance by using a relatively small professional choir that, as the Gramophone remarked, carried no passengers. And though the same review thought Vyvyan’s singing more secure in the earlier Boult recording, it praised the beauty of her solo Rejoice greatly.

rejoice_greatly_o_daughter_54.mp3


‘Her easy projection of florid run lends a lightness and joyfulness to the aria which few other sopranos could hope to match’, continued the review. ‘At her best Miss Vyvyan sings like a highly intelligent and exceptionally gifted choirboy, her tone containing a generous proportion of white and a consequent clarity in fioriture’.

Beecham certainly liked what she did: her diary for 26 June 1959 notes ‘’Sir Thomas said Rejoice Greatly was a tour de force & gave me a cigar’. Around the time of the recording he asked her to be involved in several Delius projects he was planning, including Songs of Sunset and Koanga. As things turned out, though, she didn’t get involved.

Among her finest releases were discs of Haydn and Mozart that only make you wish there were more of them. Two recordings of Mozart’s not so often heard Litanies are both outstanding for what the Telegraph called her ‘serene artistry and soaring clarity of line’.

Litany_55.mp3




And there’s a superb account of Haydn’s Scena di Berenice that was originally issued in 1958, then repackaged with a Mozart recital in 1960, and finally reissued with the Mozart in 1971.

Scena_di_Berenice_56.mp3




Jumping several centuries, when it came to Britten she was in her element; and as Andrew Porter wrote in the FT, reviewing Decca’s release of Owen Wingrave in 1971, her Britten roles collectively ‘form a portrait of Jennifer Vyvyan’s high-strung artistic personality and voice; to some extent she is their ‘creator’ in a fuller sense that just that of being their first performer’.

Chief of these roles on disc is the Governess in Turn of the Screw where the intensity of her neurotic stage persona is brilliantly captured in a recording issued soon after the first stage production using the original cast (click to hear an extract from the closing scene).

turnofthescrew_57.mp3




 

The pity is that she never recorded the War Requiem, which became a frequent feature in her concert repertoire. But she appears on two 1960s versions of the Spring Symphony – one conducted by Leonard Bernstein, and another - considerably better - by Britten himself (click to hear the Britten).

Spring_Symphony_58.mp3




 

She’s also in the first recording of Cantata Academica (click to hear).

cantata_academia_61_59.mp3


Although that doesn’t seem to have been a happy experience. Her diary for 17 Mar 1961 reads: ‘record Ben’s new cantata for Oiseau Lyre for 25gns. No one seemed particularly grateful. Owen [Brannigan], Helen [Watts] and I went and drank gin to cheer ourselves up’.

 

Her last stage role for Britten, Miss Julian in Owen Wingrave, survives on audio disc as well as DVD taken from the original TV film (click to hear).

how_unforseen_60.mp3




 

Little else of the new music that made up a significant proportion of her work made it onto disc. But one rare example is Gordon Crosse’s now forgotten but once esteemed orchestral song cycle Changes that issued on Argo in 1969, accompanied by the LSO under Norman del Mar (click to hear).

changes_61.mp3




 


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Britten letter BB/JV photo & card from BB BB/JV photo & card from BB S Wells prog, 2 Maltings progs & signed Bury St Ends prog S Wells prog, 2 Maltings progs & signed Bury St Ends prog S Wells prog, 2 Maltings progs & signed Bury St Ends prog Songs of England album covers Songs of England album covers Boult Messiah cover Mozart Litanies x2, and Mozart/Haydn Mozart Litanies x2, and Mozart/Haydn Gramophone, Records & Recording Record Review