Jane Bathori
The Complete Solo Recordings

51009-2 (1 CD)  | $ 18.00
VOCAL

 

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Jane Bathori
Jane Bathori was born Jeanne-Marie Berthier in Paris on 14 June 1877. While some singers will be remembered for their remarkable voices, Bathori's unparalleled musicianship helped establish herself as the foremost interpreter of contemporary French songs. In addition to a highly expressive voice, Jane Bathori was an accomplished pianist whose often self-accompanied work created a unified art that the singing world has rarely known. This single CD contains all of Jane Bathori's solo recordings including works by Milhaud, Debussy and Ravel, who all admired Bathori's genius.
Total Time: 72:03
1. Poèmes juifs, No. 1: Chant de la nourrice [Dors, ma fleur, mon fils chéri] (trad. Hebrew-Milhaud) 3:58
ca. November 1928 (WLX613) D15194
2. Poèmes juifs, No. 5: Chant de résignation [Prends mon âme] (trad. Hebrew-Milhaud) 1:31
ca. November 1928 (WLX614) D15194
3. Poèmes juifs, No. 6: Chant d'amour [En même temps que tous les bourgeons] (trad. Hebrew-Milhaud) 1:28
ca. November 1928 (WLX614) D15194
4. Les soirées de Pétrograd I, Op. 55: L'Ancien régime (Chalupt-Milhaud) 3:35
  No. 1: L'orgueilleuse [Pourquoi, princesse de ballet]
  No. 2: La révoltée [Ma tourterelle, mon amie]
  No. 3: La martiale [Le grand turc apprend ce qu'il cuit]
  No. 4: L'infidèle [O Catherine Ivanovna]
  No. 5: La perverse [Qu'elle était donc tentatrice]
  No. 6: L'irrésolue [N'écoute pas, Anastasie]
ca. November 1928 ([W]LX615) D15135
5. Les soirées de Pétrograd II, Op. 55: La révolution (Chalupt-Milhaud) 3:44
  No. 1: La Grand'mère de la révolution [Qu'un jour à la gare Alexandre]
  No. 3: Monsieur Protopopoff [Regardez ce monsieur]
  No. 4: Le convive [Elles t'aiment plus que]
  No. 5: La limousine [Sous la neige, la Rolls Royce]
ca. November 1928 ([W]LX616) D15153
6. Clair de lune, Op. 46/2 (Verlaine-Fauré) 2:39
ca. February 1929 ([W]L1414) D13097
7. Chansons de Bilitis, No. 1: La flûte de Pan (Louÿs-Debussy) 2:13
ca. February 1929 (WL1416) D13086
8. Chansons de Bilitis, No. 2: La chevelure (Louÿs-Debussy) 2:44
ca. February 1929 (WL1417) D13086
9. Chansons de Bilitis, No. 3: Le tombeau des naïades (Louÿs-Debussy) 2:27
ca. January 1930 ([W]L1415-2) LF50
10. Fêtes galantes, Set II, No. 1: Les ingénus (Verlaine-Debussy) 1:55
ca. February 1929 ([W]LX814) D15196
11. Fêtes galantes, Set II, No. 2: Le faune (Verlaine-Debussy) 1:43
ca. February 1929 ([W]LX814) D15196
12. Fêtes galantes, Set II, No. 3: Colloque sentimental (Verlaine-Debussy) 3:42
ca. February 1929 ([W]LX815) D15196
13. Trois mélodies (Satie) 3:42
  No. 1: Daphénéo (Godebska)
  No. 2: La statue de bronze (Fargue)
  No. 3: Le chapelier (Chalupt)
ca. March 1929 ([W]LX917) D15195
14. Trois poèmes de Jean Cocteau, Op. 59 (Cocteau-Milhaud) 2:23
  No. 1: Fumée
  No. 2: Fête de Bordeaux
  No. 3: Fête de Montmartre
ca. March 1929 ([W]LX918) D15195
15. Histoires naturelles, No. 1: Le paon (Renard-Ravel) 3:30
ca. March 1929 ([W]LX961) D15179
16. Histoires naturelles, No. 2: Le grillon (Renard-Ravel) 2:16
ca. March 1929 ([W]LX962) D15179
17. Histoires naturelles, No. 4: Le Martin-Pêcheur (Renard-Ravel) 1:54
ca. March 1929 ([W]LX962) D15179
18. Offrande (Verlaine-Hahn) 2:34
ca. April 1929 (WL1554) D13099
19. D'une prison (Verlaine-Hahn) 2:52
ca. April 1929 (WL1555) D13099
20. Lied [Nez au vent] (Mendès-Chabrier) 2:32
ca. April 1929 (WL1556) D13097
21. A Chloë [An Chloe] K. 524 (Jacobi-Mozart) 2:36
ca. March 1930 ([W]L2079) LF51
22. La jeune fille et la violette [Das Veilchen] K. 476 (Goethe-Mozart) 2:31
ca. March 1930 ([W]L2080) LF51
23. Ariettes oubliées, no. 1: C'est l'extase (Verlaine-Debussy) 2:43
ca. March 1930 ([W]L2081) LF50
24. La tour de Saint Jacques [Souvenirs de la jeunesse] (Achard-Darcier) 3:03
ca. April 1930 (WL2111-3) LF74
25. Ça fait peur aux oiseaux [Couplets de l'oiseleur] (D'Onquaire-Bernard) 2:59
ca. April 1930 (WL2112-3) LF74
26. Six chansons françaises (Tailleferre) 6:20
  No. 1: Non, la fidélité (Lataignant, 18th c.)
  No. 2: Souvent un air de vérité (Voltaire)
  No. 3: Mon mari m'a diffamée (Anon., 15th c.)
ca. April 1930 (WL2137) LF53
  No. 4: Vrai Dieu, qui m'y confortera (Anon., 15th c.)
  No. 5: On a dit du mal de mon ami (Anon., 15th c.)
  No. 6: Les trois présents (Sarasin, 17th c.)
ca. April 1930 (WL2138) LF53

All recordings, first takes unless otherwise noted, made in Paris by Columbia
Language: All recordings sung in French
Tracks 1-5, 13-14 announced by Bathori and with piano accompaniment by Darius Milhaud
Tracks 6-12, 15-25 with piano accompaniment by Jane Bathori
Track 26 with piano accompaniment by Germaine Tailleferre

Marston would like to thank Daniel Barolsky, Stan Farwig, Lawrence F. Holdridge, Peter Lack, and William Shaman.

Audio Conservation: Ward Marston

Booklet Design: Takeshi Takahashi


The solo recitalist—the ‘Lieder singer’—came rather late to France. From all evidence, this category of performer did not fully develop until after WWI. Parisian audiences so preferred their concerts varied that the thought of listening to one performer for an entire evening appeared to have been, with rare exceptions, anathema.

The form that programs took, whether in the grands concerts or the petits concerts, had evolved from the middle part of the nineteenth century with the evolution of the symphony orchestra. By the end of that century, Paris supported three major symphony orchestras: the Colonne, the Lamoureux, and the Conservatoire. Because vocal music in the concert hall was then (unlike now) as popular as orchestral music, each of the orchestras annually presented a vast array of passions, oratorios, cantatas, arias and scenes from opera, groups of art songs, both old and new as well as instrumental concerti and strictly symphonic works. This programming had created a new group of vocalists who, eschewing opera in part or in whole, specialized in “concert work.” Berthe Auguez de Montalant, Charlotte Mellot-Joubert, Claire Croiza, Jane Bathori, Emile Cazeneuve, Paul Daraux, Rodolphe Plamandon (just to mention those who left us recordings of their voices), and many others appeared year after year at one or more of the grands concerts.

Paris also had at this time three major recital halls, the Salle Pleyel, the Salle Erard and the Salle Gaveau, as well as a host of smaller venues, all of which were given over to chamber music, instrumental ensembles, vocal recitals and, in general, combinations of all three. It was at these venues—so difficult to chronicle—that the vast amount of modern music by composers, whose reputations had not become important enough to be played at the grands concerts, was performed. The programs at, say, the Salle Pleyel were generally constructed along the same lines as those of the Concerts Colonne.

Jane Bathori was born Jeanne-Marie Berthier in Paris on 14 June 1877. She studied piano with Hortense Parent and planned for a career as concert pianist. Abandoning this dream, she turned to singing. Some references claim that she studied voice with Mme. Lamoureux, one adding, “at the Paris Conservatory”; others state that she studied with Mme. Brunet-Lafleur. It is quite possible that she worked with both of these teachers privately, but neither was ever a member of the faculty of the Paris Conservatory.

Bathori made her professional debut sometime in 1898 at the small Théâtre de la Bodinière in the rue Saint-Lazare in a concert devoted to the poet Paul Verlaine. She performed Hahn’s “Offrande” and “D’une prison” with Hahn accompanying. Her debut in the grands concerts appears to have taken place on 11 December 1898 when she appeared at the Concerts du Conservatoire in Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

During 1899 she began her busy career, appearing at the Concerts du Conservatoire in Gabriel Fauré’s La Naissance de Vénus (5 and 12 February) and Saint-Saëns’s Messe de Requiem (31 March), and from February through November, at many concerts given at the Salle Pleyel, where she performed the premieres of works by Renée Eldèse, Pierre de Bréville, A. Sauvrezis, Charles Silver, Florent Schmitt, Ernest Chausson and Charles de Granval. Interestingly, she performed on 4 and 14 May in concerts under the auspices of Mlle. Hortense Parent, her old piano teacher, during interludes in Mlle. Parent’s student recital.

Sometime during the season 1899– 1900 Bathori made her operatic debut at Nantes, where she sang Mignon, Bohème [Mimi], La fille du régiment, Hänsel und Gretel and Carmen [Micaëla].

In January and February 1900 she appeared in three concerts at the Nouveau-Théâtre, performing works of Handel, Scarlatti, Chausson, Attilio Ariosti, Heinrich Schütz, Robert Schumann, Alexis Chauvet and Charles Koechlin. At the Salle Pleyel on 23 March she appeared in an all Vincent d’Indy program; on 15 May in an all Léon Boellman program with Pierre Monteux, Emile Engel and others; on 28 May in an all Emile Bernard program; and finally on 12 June, in a program dedicated to the music of the Mexican composer Gustavo-E. Campa, with Pierre Monteux conducting.

Sometime shortly after the turn of the century, Bathori began studying with Emile Engel, with whom she had participated in many concerts. Despite the fact that Engel was thirty years older than Bathori, they were married in 1905 (some references give 1908). Pierre-Emile Engel was born in Paris on 15 February 1847. He studied singing for four years with the legendary Gilbert Duprez and made his operatic debut in Duprez’s Jeanne d’Arc. Engel was a superb and versatile musician and much in demand at the grands concerts. He became professor of singing at the Paris Conservatory in 1907 and from then until WWI, turned out a large number of students, very few of whom became noteworthy, with the exception, in 1914, of Louis Cazette and Louis Guénot and, in 1916, Françoise Rosay, who shortly after making her debut at the Paris Opéra abandonned singing and became one of France’s most famous film actresses. Engel died in 1927.

During the season 1901-2 Bathori appeared with Engel at La Monnaie in Brussels in Mireille and Bohème. On 18 January 1902 she appeared in the La Scala premiere of Humperdinck’s Hänsel und Gretel as Rita, with Rosina Storchio as Nino, Elisa Bruno as La Strega Marzapane, Teresa Ferraris as Geltrude and Enrico Nani as Pietro, under Arturo Toscanini’s direction (thirteen performances). The Italian cast names at first glance may seem startling. Hänsel is a diminutive of Hans, a shorted form of Johannes, which in Italian is Giovanni, Nino being one of several nicknames. Gretel is a diminutive of Grete, a shorted form of Margarethe, which in Italian is Margarita. Hence, Rita. Interesting that the Witch lived not in a gingerbread house but one made of marzipan. Because of last-minute casting problems, Bathori was called back to La Scala to appear in the world premiere (11 March 1902) of Franchetti’s Germania as Jane, with Amelia Pinto as Ricke, Enrico Caruso as Federico, Giovanni Gravina as Stapps and Mario Sammarco as Worms, again under Toscanini’s baton (nine performances).

In 1904 at the Théâtre des Bouffes-Parisiens she created Ravel’s “Asie” in Shéhérazade. Jane Hatto was to have sung the concert but became indisposed. Bathori got the score at 3 p.m. that day and performed it at 5 p.m.

In 1905 she gave her first London recital, performing a number of songs by Roussel. In Paris at the Société Nationale she gave an all-Roussel recital with Alfred Cortot. On 8 April she appeared at the Théâtre Sarah Bernhardt (10 performances) in incidental music to Racine’s Esther, which Reynaldo Hahn had written expressly for this Bernhardt revival. Singing with Bathori was Berthe Auguez de Montalant.

In 1906 at the Société Nationale, she created Ravel’s Histoires naturelles; in 1907 at the Concerts du Conservatoire, she performed Bach’s cantata Dieu ne juge pas tes fils!; in 1908 at the Concerts Colonne, she sang in the French premiere of Pierné’s Croisade des Enfants with Auguez de Montalant, Charlotte Mellot-Joubert, Catherine Mastio, Emile Cazeneuve and the actor Léon Brémont, Pierné conducting. In 1910 at the Théâtre des Annales she created Debussy’s Promenoir des deux amants; and in 1913 at the Société Nationale Indépendante Ravel’s Trois Poèmes de Mallarmé, as well as Debussy’s Trois Poèmes de Mallarmé at the Durand. During WWI, while Jacques Coppeau was in the U.S., she was made director of the Théâtre du Vieux Colombiers where, in 1918, she staged Hahn’s Pastorale de Noël conducted by Walter Straram. In 1919 at the salon of Jeanne princesse de Polignac she created Satie’s Socrate.

She made her first concert tour of Argentina in 1926 and in 1933 sang in the Teatro Colón’s premiere of Ravel’s L’Heure espagnole. During WWII (1939– 1945), while in exile in Buenos Aires, she remained active musically, staging there Hahn’s Pastorale de Noël.

After her return to France she taught and coached a number of young singers. Although her own concert career was over, she occasionally appeared in public and on recordings as accompanist. In 1961 at the British Institute of Recorded Sound in London she gave three talks entitled “Les Musiciens que j’ai connus,” lecturing on the subjects of Roussel, Fauré, Hahn, Chabrier and Ravel (23 October); Debussy (25 October); and Satie, Sauguet, Maxime Jacob, Henri Clicquet-Pleyel and Roger Désormière (27 October).

Bathori died in Paris on 25 January 1970, four months before her ninety-third birthday.

PERSONAL REMEMBERANCE

I can no longer remember when or under what circumstances I first met Jane Bathori. It may have been through Janet Flanner, who had been to the apartment at 45 rue Monsieur le Prince on numerous occasions, or through one or more of Flanner’s large group of female friends and admirers. But in any event, during much of 1953 and 1954, Bathori was a frequent guest.

She was a short and thin woman, already then manifesting that certain fragility of old age; she dressed somberly in greys and blacks and was impeccably groomed. There were in fact two Bathoris: the quiet and gracious guest and the musician. The guest was gentle, affable, passive, and there was about her an intangible melancholy. The musician was straight-backed, alert, and assertive. One could observe the two personae in the same evening, the guest slouched on the couch speaking gently with a warm smile, lovingly petting the two household cats, Smokey and Fanny who, thinking she was very acceptable, jumped on her the moment she seated herself and vied with each other for space on her lap; the musician seated on a piano stool, head high, chin somewhat tucked in, hands parallel to the keyboard, fingers whisking over the keys with a precise and elegant articulation that would have won praise from Isidor Philipp.

After 45 years it is difficult to recall all that was talked about during those evenings before, during, and after dinner. I do remember a relatively lengthy bit of autobiography when she confessed that her first love was the piano and how crushing it was to realize, from the very beginning, that she could never become the concert pianist she dreamed of. Holding up her spread hands, she remarked, “You see how little they are. I can stretch them as much as I can and barely reach an octave... any repetitive octave work is too exhausting and quite beyond me.”

Curiously she always referred to her late husband as “Engel” and never as “mon mari” or “mon feu mari.” It was always “Engel” did this or “Engel” did that or “Engel and I” sang here or there. Perhaps the thirty-year difference in their ages brought about a certain formality.

When asked if she had ever recorded prior to her Columbia recordings, she replied, with considerable disdain, “Oh, serious musicians would have nothing to do with the gramophone until they perfected the system. At the beginning it was a toy.” Why Columbia? “In France Columbia was the label of choice. The company gave musicians complete freedom to record what we wanted and, quite frankly, it was the only company that was interested in promoting contemporary French music. All the other labels simply ground out, like sausages, the same old operatic numbers, Carmen this and Faust that. So we were all drawn to Columbia... like moths to a light.”

One evening, having avoided the subject for months, we asked her how it was that she could possibly have sung in the world premiere of Franchetti’s Germania. Her face lit up. She laughed loudly and said that she had just finished the run of Hänsel und Gretel at La Scala and, upon returning to Paris, received a telegram from the director of La Scala “begging” her to return to Milan to perform in Franchetti’s new work. Never having sung any verismo music, she was more than a little startled but thought, “Why not!” When she returned to Milan, she found herself in the last days of rehearsal and, never having seen a note of the score before her arrival, had to do some very quick learning. She also learned why she had been called. Apparently a mezzo (or second soprano), whose name Bathori never knew, had been engaged to sing the role of Jane. Bathori described it as “very ungrateful,” made the more so because of its harmonic and rhythmic difficulties, containing as well one long and very difficult scene which the character had to sing, in its entirety, with her back to the conductor. Apparently, the mezzo—after many rehearsals—could not perform to Toscanini’s satisfaction and he fired her. The theater administration was thrown into a panic, aghast at the thought of finding a replacement so late in rehearsal. Toscanini told her that he disdained the administration’s panic, saying, “Send for Bathori. She can sing it.” She admitted, with great candor, that she was more than a little intimidated by the difficulties of the role, by the fact that—despite Hänsel und Gretel—she had only four years of stage experience, by the “new music,” by the lack of rehearsals, by Toscanini’s demands, and all these problems in the presence of the mighty Pinto, a reigning queen at La Scala, Caruso, Sammarco and the rest of the cast. “I’ve always been a quick learn but I think I exonerated myself. Thank God, the work was not too great a success. Had it been, I might have become just another Italian opera singer.” And she broke out in a hearty laugh, throwing up both hands and dislodging one of the cats.

THE RECORDINGS

I have always found it difficult—if not impossible—to critique performances of people I have known and liked. Like so many other eminent French artists (Vanni-Marcoux, Charlotte Mellot-Joubert, Suzanne Cesbron-Viseur, Claire Croiza to name only a few), Bathori made her only recordings near the end of her career. She had performed vigorously for thirty years before she first faced a microphone. There is no doubt then that Bathori’s voice was rather the worse for wear. While she had begun as a lyric soprano in such roles as Mimi, Micaëla, and Marie (La fille du régiment), by the period 1928-30, she had become a mezzo-soprano and, although she still billed herself as a soprano, had from all evidence lost the top third (or fourth) of her voice.

I think, however, it is not the age of the voice that might initially put listeners off. Bathori’s approach to music (and to singing) was almost totally lacking in what we might today call “attitude.” She slipped into and out of a song without fuss. She subjugated herself to the text, never “pushing” on it for effect. She always considered herself a servant to, and a vehicle for, the composer. An extraordinarily quiet and modest woman, she performed extraordinarily quiet and modest music. Bathori’s musical personality most reminds me of that of Lotte Schöne in the last years of her life. Two voices could not have been more dissimilar, but the two artists, so similar in their sweet modesty, always and exquisitely made “a little music.”

Victor Girard, 1998

A brief note on matrix numbers: Columbia’s “L” (ten-inch) and “LX” (twelve-inch) matrix series were first used in London in 1924 for French-language recordings, then exclusively in France and Belgium from 1924 to 1933. The “W” prefix was used as a licensing mark to indicate an electrical recording made by the Western Electric process, but was frequently omitted from pressings and labels, as the Bathori recordings attest. A bracketed “W” designates this omission in the listings.