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Subject: Re: Pol Plancon sings Cantique de Noel
From: "Max D. Winter" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Max D. Winter
Date:Fri, 16 Dec 2016 15:36:20 -0500

text/plain (47 lines)

Count me in as well, as a Plancon admirer.  What one hears on all his records is something 
that is rare (although by no means unheard) today: complete ease of emission in his tone, a 
flowing quality as if the sound is pouring out in a very controlled stream.  The vibrato is 
delicate and steady as a rock (and rather fast, I like the flickering effect).

My favorite Plancon recording is the "Air de Tambour Major" from "Le Caid."

This recording is an object lesson in great singing - legato, focused tone, immaculate 
coloratura including fleet, accurate runs and deft trills.  In particular listen to the way 
Plancon goes from his upper register down into the basement while keeping the tone 
focused in exactly the same place.  Above all, there is such charm, brio, personality and joy 
in this singing; it always brings a smile to my face.   Plancon really knew how to put a piece 

Compare Plancon's recording of this aria with Samuel Ramey's:

Ramey does not come off well by comparison, IMO.  It is very well-sung technically, at least 
in terms of the coloratura.  But it is totally devoid of charm and grace and rather 
monochromatic.  At times I feel like he is attacking this delightful little piece with a sledge-
hammer, a legacy of the more emphatic verismo style that Mr. Camner has commented.     

I understand what it is about Plancon's tone that puts some people off.  There is a nasal 
quality that is at times very un-bass-like, at least in terms of what we are used to hearing 
from basses today, almost a baritonal quality.  But if you can get past that - I suggest 
spending about an hour listening to him to adjust the ear - there is SUCH great singing to 
savor in his records.  One should also keep in mind that the old acoustic recording process 
was notoriously unkind to bass voices as it frequently bleached out much of the color and 
richness that must have been there.  Also, remember that Plancon apparently had a huge 
voice - many contemporary accounts remark on this - and he undoubtedly had to sing at 
half-throttle or less while recording. 

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