Episode 80. Sad Songs (with a twist)

Episode 80. Sad Songs (with a twist)



Maria Callas

It’s been a year since the pandemic sent us all into various degrees of lockdown, panic, and depression. In certain parts of the world there is no end in sight, while in other parts, medical expertise is being blatantly defied as lockdown measures are carelessly lifted. I did a survey of my friends and listeners this week regarding their favorite sad songs, and I got hit with an avalanche of a wide range of not-happy music. In this episode I am limiting myself to so-called “classical” music. Because the music itself is so heavy, I impersonate (at the top of the episode) a radio announcer for WOKE-FM, a fictional Milwaukee “Top 40 Classical Radio Station,” who is taking calls from all over the world from listeners requesting their favorite sad music. These spurious callers have invariably good taste, and request some glorious music, albeit very sad indeed, by some transcendent performers, including Irmgard Seefried, Maria Callas, Janet Baker, Pierre Bernac, Nan Merriman, Lois Marshall, Peter Pears, and two beautiful French sopranos, Renée Doria and Andréa Guiot, who, at extremely advanced ages, each recently departed this earth. Composers from Dowland, Rameau, and Monteverdi are represented, alongside Poulenc, Schubert, Mahler, Debussy, and Stravinsky. The episode also includes guest vocal appearances by singers, including Cathy Berberian, Magda Olivero, Charles Panzéra, Jorma Hynninen, and Bethany Beardslee, who will receive full-episode treatment in the near future. Ultimately, we return to the atmosphere of a normal Countermelody episode, and are deeply moved by the singers, composers, and music represented.


From L to R: Dalton Baldwin (19 December 1931 – 12 December 2019)
and Gérard Souzay (8 December 1918 – 17 August 2004).

Jayme Ovalle, Manuel Bandeira: Azulão. Gérard Souzay; Dalton Baldwin [1958]

Renée Doria (13 February 1921 – 6 March 2021)

Jean-Paul-Égide Martini, Jean-Pierre Claris de Florian: Plaisir d’amour, Renée Doria; Franco Vertezza, Wiener Symphoniker [recording date unknown]

Irmgard Seefried (9 October 1919 – 24 November 1988)

Hugo Wolf, Eduard Mörike: Das verlassene Mägdlein (Mörike-Lieder). Irmgard Seefried; Victor Graef [1945]

A disc by Victor Graef (30. November 1886 – 29. August 1969), of whom I could find no photo
Jeanette Scovott (born 5 December 1936)

Jean-Baptiste Rameau: Tristes apprêts, pâles flambeaux (Castor et Pollux). Jeanette Scovotti; Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Concentus Musicus Wien [1972]

Lois Marshall (29 January 1924 – 19 February1997)

Henry Purcell: When I Am Laid in Earth (Dido and Æneas). Lois Marshall; Amsterdams Kamerorkest [telecast from 29 September 1963]

From L to R: Julian Bream (15 July 1933 – 14 August 2020) and Peter Pears (22 June 1910 – 3 April 1986)

John Dowland: Flow, My Tears (The Second Booke of Songes). Peter Pears; Julian Bream [live Aldeburgh 7 June 1958]

Janet Baker (born 21 August 1933)

Gustav Mahler: Der Einsame im Herbst (Das Lied von der Erde). Janet Baker; George Szell, Cleveland Orchestra [live 05 February 1970]

George Szell (7 June 1897 – 30 July, 1970)
From L to R: Georges Prêtre (14 August 1924 – 4 January 2017)and Maria Callas (2 December 1923 – 16 September 1977)

Christoph Willibald Gluck: J’ai perdu mon Eurydice (Orphée et Eurydice). Maria Callas; Georges Prêtre, Orchestre National de la RTF [1961]

Phyllis Bryn-Julson (born 5 February 1945)

Charles Griffes, William Sharp: The Lament of Ian the Proud (Three Poems of Fiona MacLeod, Op. 11/1. Phyllis Bryn-Julson; Seiji Ozawa, Boston Symphony Orchestra [1976]

Seiji Ozawa (born 1 September 1935)
Magda Olivero (25 March 1910 – 8 September 2014)

Giacomo Puccini: Senza mamma (Suor Angelica). Magda Olivero; Alfredo Simonetto, Orchestra Sinfonica di Torino della RAI [1949]

Alfredo Simonetto (15 April 1905 – 02 June 1963)
Cathy Berberian (4 July 1925 – 6 March 1983)

Claudio Monteverdi, Giovanni Francesco Busenello: Disprezzata regina (L’incoronazione di Poppea). Cathy Berberian; Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Concentus Musicus Wien [1974]

Nikolaus Harnoncourt (6 December 1929 – 5 March 2016)
Jorma Hynninen (born 3 April 1941)

Johannes Brahms: Denn es gehet dem Menschen (Vier ernste Gesänge, Op. 122/1). Jorma Hynninen; Ralf Gothóni [1985]

Ralf Gothóni (born 2 May 1946)
Bethany Beardslee (born 25 December 1925)

Claude Debussy, Paul Verlaine: Il pleut dans mon coeur (Ariettes oubliées, L.60/2). Bethany Beardslee; Robert Helps [1989]

Robert Helps (23 September 1928 – 24 November 2001)
Bernard Kruysen (28 March 1933 – 30 October 2000)

Gabriel Fauré, Paul Verlaine: Prison, Op. 83/1. Bernard Kruysen; Noël Lee [1965]

Noël Lee (25 December 1924 – 15 July 2013)
Charles Panzéra (16 February 1896 – 6 June 1976)

Reynaldo Hahn, Paul Verlaine: D’une prison. Charles Panzéra; Magdeleine Panzéra-Baillot [1923]

Brigitte Fassbaender (born 3 July 1939)

Robert Schumann, Heinrich Heine: Ich wandelte unter den Bäumen (Liederkreis, Op. 24/3). Brigitte Fassbaender; Irwin Gage [1985]

Irwin Gage (4 September 1939 – 12 April 2018)
From L to R: Pierre Bernac (12 January 1899 – 17 October 1979)
and Francis Poulenc (7 January 1899 – 30 January 1963)

Francis Poulenc, Guillaume Apollinaire: Sanglots (Banalités, FP 107/5). Pierre Bernac; Francis Poulenc [1950]

Alexander Young (18 October 1920 – 5 March 2000)

Igor Stravinsky, Dylan Thomas: Do not go gentle (In Memoriam Dylan Thomas). Alexander Young; Igor Stravinsky, The Columbia Chamber Ensemble [1965]

Dylan Thomas  (27 October 1914 – 9 November 1953)
Kurt Ollmann

Jacques Leguerney, Pierre de Ronsard: Ma douce jouvence est passée. Kurt Ollmann; Mary Dibbern [1985]

Mary Dibbern
Nan Merriman  (28 April 1920 – 22 July 2012)

James Joyce, arr. Edmond Pendelton: Bid adieu. Nan Merriman; Felix de Nobel [live Amsterdam 27 April 1965]

Felix de Nobel (27 May 1907 – 25 March 1981)
Andréa Guiot (11 January 1928 – 15 February 2021)

Francis Poulenc: Au jardin des oliviers (Les dialogues des Carmélites). Andréa Guiot; Jean Fournet, Orquestra del Teatro Colón [live Buenos Aires 1965]

Jean Fournet (14 April 1913 – 3 November 2008)

Franz Schubert, Wilhelm Müller: Des Baches Wiegenlied (Die schöne Müllerin, D.795/20). Gérard Souzay; Dalton Baldwin [1964]

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