> Jonathan Lemalu [RJF]: Classical CD Reviews- Jun2002 MusicWeb(UK)






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Jonathan Lemalu (b. bar).
Songs by Brahms, Schubert, Fauré, Finzi, Ireland, Keel, Head

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-87)
Vier ernste Gesänge Op.121
(Four Serious Songs)
Denn es gehet dem Menschen wie dem Vieh
Ich wandte mich und sahe an alle
O'Tod, wie bitter bist dim
Wenn ich mit Menschen -und mit Engelszungen redete

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1825)

Der Wanderer an den Mond, D.870
Auf der Donau, D.553
Der Schiffer, D.536
Der Wanderer, D.489

Gabriel FAURÉ (1845-1924)

L'Horizon chimérique, Op.118
(The Illusory Horizon)
La mer est infinie
Je me suis embarqué
Diane, Séléné
Vaisseaux, nous vous aurons almés.

Gerald FINZI (1901-56)

Rollicum-rorum
To Lizbie Browne
(from Earth and Air and Rain), Op.15

TRAD, arr. VIGNOLES

Lowlands (Sea shantv)

John IRELAND (1879-1962)

Sea Fever

Frederick KEEL (1871-1934

Trade Winds

Michael HEAD (1900-1976)

The Estuary

Roger Vignoles (piano).
Recorded Potton Hall, Suffolk, England. 2002. Full price.
EMI 'DEBUT SERIES'. 7242 5752032 [60.46]

It is heartening in these straitened times for classical recordings, that EMI continues with its 'Début Series'.

Featured on this release is the 26 year old Jonathan Lemalu, a New Zealander of Samoan origin due to graduate in 2002 with an 'Advanced Performance Diploma' from the London Royal Schools. On the cover picture Lemalu looks like a large rugby player, and the first characteristic that strikes about his voice is the impression of size. His even-toned voice shadesm in its sonority, timbre and resonance, more towards the bass than the baritone. It certainly suits the German lieder items. I found the Brahms Op.121 (tr 1-4) very impressive in terms of pure vocalism and was the hit by the variety of colour and expression in Schubert's 'Der Wanderer an dem Mond' (tr 5). Yes, of course one can say that his interpretation will improve with maturity and experience, but that is to short-change what is a formidable start in this repertoire.

The Fauré 'L'Horizon chimérique' (tr 9-12) I found less impressive. He encompasses the tessitura and sings softly with a slight faltering in the legato. Perhaps he needs more study of and in the language. In the 'English Songs' his range of soft singing and expression is again impressive and good though his diction is, I would hope for improvement; he mustn't soften the consonants too much.

EMI provides quality via a clear well-balanced recording that allows Roger Vignoles' significant contribution its full value. Well done all concerned. Highly recommended to all those who enjoy good singing; a very promising debut indeed.

Robert J Farr

 


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