Episode 86. Cathy Berberian’s Second Hand Songs

Episode 86. Cathy Berberian’s Second Hand Songs

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I return to Cathy Berberian, Prima Donna of the Avant Garde (or “The Divine Miss B” as she was sometimes called in the mid-seventies) for a further exploration of her career and influence on vocalism in the twentieth century and beyond. This time around I consider her explorations outside of the avant garde, specifically the recital. Based on her 1967 recording of Beatles Arias, the conductor Nikolaus Harnoncourt invited Cathy Berberian to take part in his groundbreaking 1969 period instrument recording of Monteverdi’s Orfeo. In 1969 Cathy Berberian began to perform recitals that exploited her entire stylistic and vocal range, a program which eventually became known as “From Monteverdi to The Beatles.” In 1971 her ex-husband Luciano Berio wrote a theater piece for her called Recital I (For Cathy), in which she portrayed an increasingly deranged performer who eventually descends into madness. Her interest in Reynaldo Hahn and Marcel Proust eventually led her to create a program entitled À la recherche de la musique perdue. Additional late-career recitals were called Cathy Berberian’s Second Hand Songs and Cathy Sings America. This episode features excerpts from all of those works, as well as a smattering of folk music and a recorded excerpt of her singing the title role of Carmen, a tantalizing prospect which never came to be. The episode also includes a tribute to Kathleen Ferrier, whose 109th birthday was observed this past week.

RECORDINGS HEARD IN THIS EPISODE

Kathleen Ferrier (22 April 1912 – 08 October 1953)

Johann Sebastian Bach: Vergiss mein nicht, BWV 505; Ach, dass nicht die letzte Stunde, BWV 439; Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel: Bist du bei mir, BWV 508 [formerly attributed Johann Sebastian Bach]. Kathleen Ferrier, John Newmark [live New York 08 January 1950]

Reynaldo Hahn, Paul Verlaine: L’heure exquise. Cathy Berberian, Bruno Canino [1976]

John Lennon, Paul McCartney, arr. Guy Boyer: I Want to Hold Your Hand. Cathy Berberian, Instrumental Ensemble [1967]

Claudio Monteverdi, Giovanni Battista Guarini: Con che soavità (Otto libro di Madrigali). Cathy Berberian; Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Concentus Musicus Wien [1975]

With Nikolaus Harnoncourt

Luciano Berio: Non è già parte in voi; Listen… give me time to listen (Recital I [For Cathy]). Cathy Berberian, Luciano Berio, London Sinfonietta [1973]

With Luciano Berio

César Cui, Alexander Pushkin: The Statue at Tsarskoye Selo, Op. 57/17. Cathy Berberian, Bruno Canino [live Edinburgh 1973]

Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, Aleksey Vasil’yevich Kol’tsov: The Rose Enslaves the Nightingale, Op. 2/2. Cathy Berberian, Bruno Canino [live Madrid 25 February 1974]

Cathy Berberian in concert, Grenoble, October 1977, with David Abramovitz at the piano

Modest Mussorgsky, Alexander Strugovshchikov after Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: The Song of the Flea. Cathy Berberian; Bruno Canino [live Edinburgh 1973]

John Lennon, Paul McCartney, arr. Guy Boyer: Girl. Cathy Berberian; Instrumental Ensemble [1967]

Liza Lehmann, Rose Fyleman: There Are Fairies at the Bottom of Our Garden. Cathy Berberian; Bruno Canino [live Edinburgh 1973]

With Bruno Canino

Susan McFarland Parkhurst [AKA Mrs. E.A. Parkhurst]: Father’s a Drunkard and Mother Is Dead. Cathy Berberian; Bruno Canino [live Edinburgh 1973]

Gioacchino Rossini: Duetto buffo di due gatti. Cathy Berberian, Bruno Canino [live Madrid 25 February 1974]

Ludwig Van Beethoven, arr. Friedrich Zilcher: Durch dich so seelig [adapted from Symphony No. 5]. Cathy Berberian; Harold Lester [live Frankfurt October 1980]

Frédéric Chopin, arr. Pauline Viardot: Coquette. Cathy Berberian; Harold Lester [live Frankfurt October 1980]

Peter DeRose and Bert Shefter (after Maurice Ravel), Mitchell Parish: The Lamp Is Low. Cathy Berberian; Harold Lester [live Frankfurt October 1980]

Larry Clinton, after Claude Debussy: My Reverie. Cathy Berberian; Harold Lester [live Frankfurt October 1980]

Paolo Tosti, Corrado Ricci: Pianto di monaca. Cathy Berberian; Bruno Canino [1976]

Harold Arlen, Ted Koehler: Stormy Weather. Cathy Berberian; Massimiliano Damenini [live Lugano 09 February 1981]

Georges Bizet: Près des remparts de Séville [Séguidille] (Carmen). Cathy Berberian, Luciano Berio, Unknown orchestra [mid-1970s?]

Giancarlo Menotti: The Black Swan (The Medium). Cathy Berberian; Massimiliano Damenini [live Lugano 09 February 1981]

Traditional Chinese: The Mountain Flower. Cathy Berberian; Harold Lester [Stuttgart June 1978]

Traditional Russian Gypsy, arr. Nick Manoloff: Dve gitany [Two Guitars]. Cathy Berberian; Harold Lester [Stuttgart June 1978]

Traditional Spanish, arr. Manuel de Falla: Nana (Siete canciones populares españolas). Cathy Berberian, Unknown pianist, presumably Harold Lester [late 1970s]

Traditional Jewish, arr. Maurice Ravel: Fregt die Welt die alte Casche [L’énigme éternelle] (Deux mélodies hébraïques, M.22/2). Cathy Berberian; Harold Lester [Stuttgart June 1978]

Paul McCartney, John Lennon, arr. Louis Andriessen: Michelle. Cathy Berberian; Bruno Canino [live Lugano 21 June 1969]

Arnold Schoenberg, Ernest Guiraud; Ingolf Dahl and Carl Beier (English translation): O fragrance old (Pierrot Lunaire, Op. 21/21). Cathy Berberian; Marius Constant, Ensemble Ars Nova [Paris 17 April 1972]

Traditional Bulgarian: Folk Song. Cathy Berberian [live Holland Festival 28 June 1974]

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