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Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    


 

SUMMERTIME

Thomas ARNE (1710-78) Where the Bee Sucks. Samuel BARBER (1910-81) Sure on this shining night, Op. 13 No. 3. The Monk and his Cat, Op. 29 No. 8. Hector BERLIOZ (1803-69) Les Nuits d’été, Op. 7 – No. 1, Villanelle; No. 6, L’ile inconnue. Leonard BERNSTEIN (1918-90) Peter Pan - My House. Johannes BRAHMS (1833-97) Meine Liebe ist Grün, Op. 63 No. 5. John IRELAND (1879-1962) The Trellis. Frank BRIDGE (1879-1941) Go not, happy day, H34. Frederick DELIUS (1862-1934) To Daffodils. Edward ELGAR (1857-1934) The Shepherd’s Song. Gabriel FAURE (1845-1924) Clair de Lune. Sior, Op. 83 No. 2. Notre amour, Op. 23 No. 2. Harold FRASER-SIMSON (1878-1944) Vespers. George GERSHWIN (1898-1937) Porgy and Bess – Summertime. Michael HEAD (1900-76) The little road to Bethlehem. Liza LEHMANN (1862-1918) Ah! Moon of my delight. Cole PORTER (1891-1964) The Tale of the Oyster. Roger QUILTER (1877-1953) Now Sleeps the Crimson Petal, Op. 2 No. 3. Love’s Philosophy, Op. 3 No. 1. John RUTTER (born 1945) The Lord bless you and keep you. Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) An Sylvia, D891. Auf dem Wasser zu singen, D774. Robert SCHUMANN (1810-56) Myrthen, Op. 25 – No. 3, Der Nussbaum. Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958) Orpheus with his Lute. Peter WARLOCK (1894-1930) Sleep. Haydn WOOD (1882-1959) A brown bird singing. TRADITIONAL The lark in the clear air.

Felicity Lott (soprano); Graham Johnson (piano).
Recorded at Champs Hill in April 2000. [DDD]

BLACK BOX BBM3007 [74.26]
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Fresh as a daisy, Felicity Lott brings a winning combination of gusto and a wealth of experience to this delightful recital (the disc works beautifully as such if one plays it straight through). Covering three centuries of song, how apt that Gershwin’s evergreen Summertime should open the sequence and introduce the overall freshness of mood. Aided by the ever-impressive Graham Johnson throughout, this is a winner of a disc. Lott and Johnson seem to have mastered the ‘Art of the Simple’: surely one of the hardest things to do in all music?. Lott has the ability to let the music speak for itself: listen, for example, to her account of Bernstein's My House, with its specifically American prayer-like quality. This seemingly non-interventionist approach hides a wealth of detail and consideration that make this recital the success it is.

On the evidence of this disc, Lott seems to have a special rapport with the music of Samuel Barber. Her accounts of Sure on this Shining Night and The Monk and his Cat are beautifully presented, the phrases wonderfully shaded. She also reveals her sense of humour: Cole Porter’s The Tale of the Oyster is pure joy.

By refusing to dismiss Haydn Wood’s A Brown Bird Singing and giving it full consideration, it emerges as a truly touching little song. Perhaps the only disappointments are the (few) items from the Austro-Germanic repertoire. There are certainly more fluid accounts of Schubert’s Auf dem Wasser zu singen , D774, just as there are greater emotional outpourings in Brahms’ Meine Liebe ist grün, Op. 63 No. 5. The tender delicacy of the French songs is far more suited to her outlook (try Fauré’s Soir for example). In fact, in these songs she positively shines (notice also how her pianist lightens his touch accordingly).

If I tell you that the word ‘beautiful’ kept on cropping up in my notes on this disc, it just about sums it up.

There are virtually no liner notes with this disc: there is a hot-link to the website which promises much more detail (although Black Box’s web-site was inoperative when I tried the first time, and only a couple of texts were up the second).

 

Colin Clarke

 


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