Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line

Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Dux Records

Eva Podleś and Garrick Ohlsson live
Fryderyk CHOPIN (1810-1849)


A Girl’s Desire Op. 74/5
The Handsome Lad Op. 74/8
The Ring Op. 74/14
Lithuanian song Op. 74/16
My Sweetheart Op. 74/12
Modest MUSSORGSKY (1839-1881)

Songs and Dances of Death
Alexander SCRIABIN (1872-1915)


C sharp minor Op. 2/1
C sharp major Op. 8/1
E major Op. 8/5
D sharp minor Op. 8/12
F sharp major Op. 42/3
C sharp minor Op. 42/5
E flat major Op. 42/8
Etude in nonas Op. 65/1
Etude in septims Op. 65/2
Etude in quints Op. 65/3
Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943)


Christ is Risen Op. 26/6
How Long Since Love Op. 14/3
In the Silence of the Night Op. 4/3
Everything Passes Op. 26/15
She is Beautiful as Noon Op. 14/9
Spring Streams Op. 14/11
Eva Podleś (contralto)
Garrick Ohlsson (piano)
Recorded live at the Concert Hall of Warsaw Philharmonic, December 2002
DUX 0405 [70.47]

The first disc I ever reviewed for this site was a Handel recital from the formidable Polish contralto Ewa Podleś. There her powerful personality sometimes threatened to overbalance musical proprieties but here, on more native soil, I find her evocative, dramatic and a characteriser of theatrical dimensions. She is fortunate to have Garrick Ohlsson, much admired in Warsaw for his past success in the Chopin Piano Competition, but also for his continued appearances in the country. He plays with great security and understanding and has his solo responsibilities, as Duke Ellington referred to them, in the Scriabin Etudes. This is a live recording made at the Concert Hall of Warsaw Philharmonic in December 2002. The sound is attractive and mellow, applause kept to a minimum except where naturally expected and at the end, where it’s prolonged. The repertoire plays to Podleś’ strengths as a recitalist; delicate but delightfully coloured Chopin, combustible Mussoursgky, and the romantic fissures of Rachmaninov.

She has recorded Chopin’s little known songs before. On Accord 045 she essayed three of the same songs here and these are clearly ones close to her heart (The Handsome Lad, Lithuanian Song, My Sweetheart) as indeed were those songs by Szymanowski and Karłowicz. Podleś has a big voice – no other way to put it – and some of her more outsize vocal gestures will not meet universal approval but she can lighten and scale down the voice delightfully in these Chopin settings, of which The Handsome Lad is a beguiling example. Naturally that well sustained but vaguely Clara Butt like chest register earns its keep, notably in the Lithuanian Song but generally these are attractive and convincing interpretations. She has also recorded the Mussorgsky before on Forlane, a performance I’ve not heard, but this Ohlsson accompanied one is incendiary enough. She is spectral in the Lullaby, employs dramatic portamenti in the Serenade and florid characterisation as well. The Field Marshall is declamatory and powerfully climaxed; her impersonations are truly involving, her voice registers covering a wide and necessarily intense range. The performance is met by initially stunned silence – and I can well imagine why.

The Rachmaninov settings show another, versatile side of her vocal equipment. She is characterful in Christ is Risen, floats her voice in How Long Since Love and is full of adolescent breathlessness at the start of In The Silence Of the Night. Ohlsson’s Scriabin is impressive. The contouring of the C sharp minor Op. 2 No. 1 is not unlike Horowitz’s 1963 disc though Olsson’s voicings are less overt and he is slightly slower, tending to be more reflective than Horowitz’s constantly inflecting tension. I liked the D sharp minor Op. 8 No. 12 – Horowitz employed quite a deal of rubato and withdrawn tone whereas Ohlsson is much more linear and balanced; one does though slightly miss Horowitz’s moments of hare-brained humour in this Etude. He catches the otherness of the mysterious Etude in nonas and when it comes to the Op. 42 No. 5 C sharp minor we find he’s even quicker than Horowitz, though Ohlsson lacks the intensity of diminuendi of the older man.

This is a recital of some considerable breadth. The Chopin songs should be in the repertoire of more "Western" singers and Podleś shows what we are missing. The documentation is first class with texts in Polish, English and Cyrillic and thorough notes. Above all revisiting Ewa Podleś is never a dull experience.

Jonathan Woolf


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