Dienstag, 21. Juni 2022

Paul Robeson - Songs Of Free Men - A Paul Robeson Recital (1997)

There was nothing like the Robeson sound, ever. To describe his deep, rich, perfectly equalized instrument is futile. Go instead to "Balm in Gilead," the opening track, and see if you can listen to the last pianissimo phrase without falling to pieces. Robeson was at his best when the music was slow and the words contained spiritual or social messages. Faster, lighter fare like Kern's "I Still Suits Me" or Gershwin's "It Ain't Necessarily So" find the serious-minded singer out of his element, lacking irony and swing. "Old Man River," though, gets a simple, dignified treatment. It's Songs of Free Men, though, that will just keep Robeson's artistry rolling along, especially in Sony's astonishing transfers.

In the 1940s, before rabid McCarthyism and racism had taken its toll on him, Robeson made these wonderful recordings of spirituals, classics and pop tunes. Accompanied by the solo piano of the incomparable Lawrence Brown, or by an orchestra, the songs ring out with pride, dignity, skill and unmatched integrity. The shameful treatment that Robeson was subject to from American authorities certainly seem grotesquely absurd to a modern listener. The wonderful version of "The House I Live In" included on this cd should forever kill off any suspicion that Robeson did not love his country deeply. This album ought to be heard by millions of people, world wide. Robeson's voice is nothing less than a glorious high point in 20th century music, and it's hard to think of any recording capturing it to greater advantage.

Culled from six concerts given in the 1940s, with most of its tracks previously released on 78 rpm albums in that decade, this disc, as annotator Paul Robeson, Jr., notes, presents Paul Robeson at the peak of his singing career (from age 44 to 49) and recreates a typical recital. Robeson sings spirituals, folk songs from various countries in various languages, classical pieces and theater music, including works by Felix Mendelssohn, Marc Blitzstein (a brilliant "The Purest Kind of Guy" from "No for an Answer"), Earl Robinson, George Gershwin, and, of course, Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II ("I Still Suits Me" and "Ol' Man River" from Show Boat). Robeson is accompanied by his usual pianist, Lawrence Brown, on the first 17 tracks and by the Columbia Concert Orchestra on the remaining eight. The sound quality is remarkably clear, showing little evidence of the 50-year-old (and older) sources. As a result, Robeson's amazing bass-baritone is revealed in all its power, as is a sense of enunciation and presentation that perfectly suits a wide range of material.    

Paul Robeson - Songs Of Free Men
(320 kbps, cover art included)

2 Kommentare:

Anonym hat gesagt…

great album but the link is dead, fantastic blog

zero hat gesagt…

Thanks a lot. Now there´s a fresh link.

Kommentar veröffentlichen