Sumi Jo’s website
Sumi Jo is ideal in
these songs. They mingle an ineffably
creamy richness and the lightest fly-away
spirit. Echt Wienerisch indeed!
None of this should
surprise us. Sumi Jo was born in Seoul,
South Korea in 1962. In 1983 a passionate
commitment to music took her to Rome
and the Accademia di Santa Cecilia.
There she studied vocal music and keyboard.
Karajan soon took her under his wing
and following a Salzburg audition in
1988 she was selected by him to sing
the role of Oscar in a production of
Un Ballo in Maschera. One of
the world’s top-flight coloraturas she
has sung Queen of the Night, Lucia,
Zerbinetta, Fiorilla and Amina in the
world's great opera houses. She has
sung for Solti and Bonynge and her questing
spirit is also reflected in her recital
disc Carnival! in which she aided
and abetted the always exploring Richard
Bonynge in reviving various coloratura
With this as a backdrop we should not
be surprised at her spectacular versatility.
This is eminently in evidence in the
steadied lilt of Draussen In Sievering
(listen to her singing over the central
pizzicato) but she shines in these songs
time after time. No mere technician
of the vocal chords, she sings intelligently
with both heart and head in gear. Each
phrase is pointed with poignant balance.
Secure in her seemingly invincible technique,
she delights the listener every step
of the way. The hallmark of her singing
is an alpine clarity.
The Volksoper is in
far better touch with the floating romance
of this music than the artistic sumos
of the Wienerphilharmoniker. Listen
for example to the hushed mystery of
Wiener Blut. Bibl’s name was
new to me but watch out for it again.
Those who learnt their Strauss from
the Willy Boskovsky Decca LPs will wonder
if that plush mantle has now settled
on Bibl's shoulders.
The disc is well-stocked
with four of the thirteen tracks being
purely orchestral and the rest with
Jo (and orchestra of course). There
is a new-minted crispness about the
contribution of every participant.
Notes are excellent
and full texts are given.
Why 'echoes'? This
lovely sequence is neither echo nor
shadow but a direct and authentic voice
of the light Viennese tradition. Go
get it all Strauss fans.