Now that Universal have started issuing compilations
from recordings originally released on separate labels, this means that
a disc such as this does not need to be restricted to one label. Here
we have tracks from Decca, DGG, L’Oiseau Lyre and Philips issues, all
relatively recent recordings and all DDD.
This compilation disc is a little out of the ordinary.
There is a vast range of music here, dating from the 1500s to the present
day. All tracks have been released before, except for the item from
Der Rosenkavalier. Based upon the limited recording information given
in the notes, this track appears to have been recorded at the same sessions
in Vienna as those involved in the production of Decca’s disc of Strauss’s
Heroines, released relatively recently featuring Renee Fleming, supported
by Barbara Bonney and Susan Graham.
For those of you who have purchased the Fleming disc,
this disc is a wonderful supplement. The Presentation of the Rose aria
obviously could not be used for the Strauss Heroines disc because in
the sessions Renee Fleming played the part of The Marschallin and Barbara
Bonney the part of Sophie. Here, unfettered by casting considerations
we are able to hear the aria, which had been omitted on the earlier
disc. Many will buy the disc for this alone.
The entire disc is a delight from start to finish showing
as it does the vocal expertise of one of the best female singers of
the present day. Barbara Bonney consistently sings with a pure, clear
voice, with no irritating mannerisms such as wide vibrato, squalling
under pressure etc., which spoils for me some of the other current famous
female voices presently in vogue with our record industry. Her avowed
favourite area of singing, that of the song is well represented here
with examples of her enormous range.
She can be heard singing early music such as the Dowland
(accompanied on the lute by Jacob Heringman) or Purcell (with a period
orchestra). Also there is modern repertoire such as the André
Previn, accompanied by the composer on the piano or Alban Berg with
full modern symphony orchestra. Her tone is consistently beautiful and
totally musical, and what is more, fully in keeping with the various
There is only one track (In trutina – from Carl Orff’s
Carmina Burana), where her voice sounds just a little too sophisticated
for the atmosphere of the piece. Do not be put off by this as she still
sings the piece most winningly.
Later on in the programme we are treated to another
one of Barbara Bonney’s favourite repertoire areas – that of Scandinavian
songs, both with orchestral accompaniment (from Grieg’s Peer Gynt) and
with piano accompaniment, two songs of Sibelius, ably supported by her
pianist Antonio Pappano.
Richard Strauss is represented by the excerpt already
mentioned from Der Rosenkavalier plus one of Strauss’s piano accompanied
songs. What a delectable sound she makes.
I have played this disc a number of times, and such
is the variety of repertoire, it can be listened to in one sitting without
the least fatigue. So, if you don’t own the complete discs from which
these items have been lifted, do not hesitate – this collection is a