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Buywell Just Classical

Romantic Trios
Luigi DENZA (1846-1922) J’ai peur de l’aimer [3:55]
Auguste PANSERON (1796-1859) Les Nobles Sons du cor [5:45]
Conradin KREUTZER (1780-1849) Das Mühlrad [4:12]
Otto NICOLAI (1810-1849) Die Träne [5:37]
Heinrich PLOCH (1809-1878) Das Alpenhorn [2:53]
Frantisek SKROUP (1801-1862) Liebes Tal, warum so stille? [3:16]
Gaetano DONIZETTI (1797-1848) L’amor funesto [4:51]
Franz LACHNER (1803-1890) Fragen [3:06]
Friedrich KUCKEN (1810-1882) Vöglein [4:31]
Franz LACHNER (1803-1890) Frauenliebe und-leben [5:09]
Jules MASSENET (1842-1912) Les Yeux clos [2:25]
Hector BERLIOZ (1803-1869) Le Jeune Pâtre Breton [3:46]
Franz LACHNER (1803-1890) Herbst [3:17]
Jules MASSENET (1842-1912) Amours bénis [3:57]
Joan Sutherland (soprano); Barry Tuckwell (horn); Richard Bonynge (piano)
rec. Henry Wood Hall, London, October 1987.


Experience Classicsonline

This disc returns to the catalogue like a treasure from a bygone era, and most welcome it is. It showcases a number of songs set for the unusual combination of soprano, piano and obbligato horn. If it sounds unusual that’s because it is, but the result is unfailingly charming.

The repertoire here is very unusual. Familiar names like Berlioz, Massenet and Donizetti turn up alongside a collection of composers you’ve probably never heard of before. Each song is very attractive in its own way: the melodic lines are simple, and it’s fair to say that the lion’s share of the acrobatics goes to the horn rather than the soprano - which is probably a good thing, considering Sutherland’s age when she made this disc! In fact there are some real fireworks from Barry Tuckwell’s horn, especially in the Alpine songs (Panseron, Nicolai, Ploch). In fact in the Panseron song he even goes so far as to dub himself in playing an optional second horn part, thus duetting with himself! It’s a testament to the integrity of the project that one doesn’t at first notice, so much sense it makes. When you do, it’s a marvel. 

This was clearly a labour of love for Sutherland, who made this recording at the very twilight of her career - I wonder if it was her last ever recording? Bonynge accompanies sensitively at the piano, even arranging some of the songs specially for the recording. Tuckwell is a sensitive virtuoso: he never imposes himself, but blends seamlessly and unselfconsciously into the overall texture. The songs themselves deal with traditional Romantic themes - hence the disc’s title - such as love, loss and loneliness. The tone of the disc, however, is never sad: even when expressing loss each of these songs does so with a positive view. Most are tinged with a wistful melancholy; try the last track on the disc for a splendid example of this. In fact the overall tone of the disc is of valediction. Sutherland seems almost to be looking back on a great career that she knows is almost over, and bids us farewell by surprising us one last time with an unusual, yet surprisingly touching recital, and this helps to make the disc special. Yes, her voice is a mere shadow of what it had been and there is a noticeable “beat” in the prolonged top notes. It’s true also that her legendary phobia of enunciation is plainly in evidence: in the Berlioz song all consonants go into meltdown! However, with a project in which she has clearly invested so much time and effort, who really cares when the results are so tender? 

The music may not be especially memorable, and some may even call it trite, but this disc has all the appeal of a cup of hot chocolate on a winter’s night. Treat yourself and I guarantee enjoyment.

Simon Thompson


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