Kevin Maynor has a nobly rounded bass. Its downward
extension is fine, he possesses declamatory power when needed
and whilst his top is not always ideally strong or resonant enough
he’s seldom found badly wanting in his chosen repertoire. In addition
his diction is often sound and he has the confidence to construct
a programme wide ranging enough to take in German, French, Russian
and English. Then there is his – or the record company’s – confidence
in starting off with the three canonical Schubert settings. As
a recitalist he seems to favour slow moving gravity; it suits
the voice, which is sometimes less than authentically mobile,
but it also presents problems. It brings with it potential fatigue,
a danger not entirely alleviated by his vocal production – which
can be worryingly one-dimensional as well as lacking range of
colouration and flexibility. The lack of optimum colour exposes
an allied problem, which is a certain generalization of approach,
an inability to distinguish between the songs through inflection
and subtle illumination of the text.
There are many enjoyable things here naturally
but others that will provoke debate. The contrastive material
in Erlkönig seems rather overdone – the croon and the hardening
are just too explicit – and when we reach Wolf I find that Wohl
denk’ ich oft isn’t quite climactic enough. Fühit meine Seele
is the most comprehensively well sung of this group of three in
which Maynor seems to seek textual depths with particular care.
There is a little intermezzo via Saint-Saëns’ Danse Macabre
even though his French pronunciation is rather occluded. Flégier’s
Le Cor seems to me altogether more convincing – powerfully resonant
low notes and some really dextrous musicianship. He brings out
the concentrated gravity of Strauss’ Der Einsame but in a companion
setting, Das Thal, Maynor badly lacks subtlety of expressive nuance.
As one might expect the Russian settings are good vehicles for
his plangent sympathy and the recital ends with two slices of
Americana – Dello Joio’s The Assassination, slow-moving and pensive
and Jack Beeson’s To a Sinister Potato, which sounds iconoclastically
promising but isn’t.
Sleeve notes detailing the trials and tribulations
of recording life with entertaining honesty are by the excellent
pianist, Richard Woitach.