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Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Elsie Houston Sings Brazilian Songs 

Oh my.
From Scratchy 78 to Scratchy 33 to little cassette recorder to Audacity and saved to mp3. And yet, her astonishing voice gets through. Not as much Cancao do Carreiro shrieking, and more exceedingly charming birdlike trills.
From the liner notes:
Elsie Houston, Brazilian soprano born in Rio de Janeiro, was the foremost exponent of the vocal music of Brazil. She toured extensively both in Europe and America (her debut was in Paris in 1926), making known to ever-widening audiences the folk songs and the art songs of her native land. Her gift for characterization was unrivaled and she possesed a voice which she could bend to her will in the projection of an enormous range of color and emotion. It was a voice which has been described variously as seeming "to come from somewhere beyond the equator," as "an Amazon chant" and as "of exquisite quality..."

Track listing, from the record jacket.
And Side 2 is Bachianas Brasileiras No. 1 and the super cool Nonetto.
Oh my.

One of the favorite, haunting records of my childhood. I have this in its 33rpm version. I'd always thought she had thrown herself out of a New York window, but I learn from your website that she took sleeping pills. The voice itself is haunting enough, but the sad ending to her life also colors my appreciation.

I don't know of anyone else (save my father and my aunt) who know about Ms. Houston, so it's nice to read of a fellow enthusiast. I'm going to rip a CD from the LP for a Brazilian friend, who may be able to interpret some of the lyrics. I wonder what music from the album may be published and/or in print?

Hugh Gabrielson, aka
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