Eloquence is having
something of an Emma Kirkby month! There
have been five discs released for which
collectors elsewhere may be rejoicing.
Universal have restored some real Kirkby
gems to the catalogue. There are discs
of Mozart (2), Purcell, Handel and an
Elizabethan Song Book.
As most fans of hers
are well aware, she has a bright, positive
soprano voice with very little of the
vibrato, which although fashionable
at present, makes listening to many
modern singers a disagreeable experience.
These recordings, done in London, catch
Kirkby early in her career and as such
are extremely welcome; in fact indispensable.
This disc collects
together concert arias - not arias from
the popular operas. These were written
by Mozart to show off the female voice,
and on the evidence here, they certainly
do that. Il re pastore, was first
performed in Salzburg, and was intended
to capitalise on the singer’s ability
to progress from modest lyricism to
increasingly virtuosic display. It is
not known whether Archduke Maximilian
Franz was impressed or not – certainly
he would have been if he had been listening
to this performance.
Emma Kirkby has the
ability to make this repertoire seem
effortless, and she is ably aided and
abetted by Hogwood and his orchestra.
In addition, the Decca recording has
been superbly transferred.
Once again, Eloquence
seems to have tapped a missing part
of the market, since although this disc
was originally issued in the UK by L’Oiseau
Lyre on 425 835-2-OH, it does not appear
in the current Universal catalogue,
so presumably has fallen under the deletions
axe. The general catalogue is groaning
with other Emma Kirkby recordings, and
she has been very active for Hyperion
and companies other than Universal for
some time. These early recordings are
therefore especially welcome, as at
super budget price, collectors who may
have missed them first time around should
be able pick them up without delay.
The next four arias
KV 217, 272, 344 and 383 show off our
soprano’s bright clear voice admirably.
I predict that there will be some very
happy collectors out there who obtain
every possible enjoyment from it.
The only part of this
disc that I was least bit hesitant about
was Ch’io mi scordi di te? KV
505. Unlike all the others, which have
The Academy of Ancient Music for accompaniment,
this aria has Kirkby accompanied by
Steven Lubin at the fortepiano. Perhaps
you not share my abhorrence of this
instrument ... although why use it when
there are perfectly good Steinways and
others around do not sound like upright
Joannas. I know I am in a minority
here, particularly for this type of
repertoire, so don’t feel short-changed.
This is a superb issue,
and deserves wide circulation.