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Amanda Roocroft - None but the Lonely Heart
songs by
Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840–1893)
Claude DEBUSSY (1862–1918)
Richard STRAUSS (1864–1949)
Amanda Roocroft (soprano)
Malcolm Martineau (piano)
rec. Champs Hill, Pulborough, England, 14 April, 18-19 July 2007
Texts and English translations included.
ONYX 4022 [67:02]





Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840–1893)

1. Zakatilos’ solnce (The sun has set) Op. 73 No. 4 [1:52]
2. Kolybel’naja pesnja (Cradle Song) Op. 16 No. 1 [3:50]
3. Otchevo? (Why?) Op. 6 No. 5 [2:44]
4. Snova, kak prezhde, odin (Ah, once again alone) Op. 73 No. 6 [2:09]
5. Zabyt’ tak skoro (So soon forgotten) [3:28]
6. Net, tol’ko tot, kto znal (None but the lonely heart) Op. 6 No. 6 [3:29]
Claude DEBUSSY (1862–1918)

Cinq poèmes de Baudelaire:
7. I Le balcon [8:37]
8. II Harmonie du soir [4:14]
9. III Le jet d’eau [5:45]
10. IV Recueillement [4:45]
11. V La mort des amants [3:10]
Richard STRAUSS (1864–1949)

12. Ständchen Op. 17 No. 2 [2:50]
13. Allerseelen Op. 10 No. 8 [3:10]
14. Glückes genug Op. 37 No. 1 [2:29]
15. Befreit Op. 39 No. 4 [4:59]
16. Ruhe, meine Seele Op. 27 No. 1 [3:46]
17. Heimliche Aufforderung Op. 27 No. 3 [3:14]
18. Cäcilie, Op. 27 No. 2 [2:03]

When does a vibrato, a natural thing in any human voice, cease to be just a characteristic? When does it become a disturbance that detracts from the music and its interpretation? The questions pose themselves as a result of the singing of Amanda Roocroft on this disc. The answers must be evasive. What one person considers excessive another hears as a natural vibrancy. My wife is much less tolerant than I am. Other reviewers appear less sensitive to the pitch variations that are the effect of vibrato.

My first reaction to this disc was that Roocroft has a natural beauty of tone, that these are well considered readings with considerable insight in the texts, that her phrasing is utterly natural and that she can sustain intensity over long spans. In the Tchaikovsky songs her vibrancy felt naturally attuned to the music. After all Russian singing of an older school is not wholly foreign to wide vibrato. Too soft-edged a voice can also make Tchaikovsky over-perfumed and sentimentalised; there is no such risk here. Looking through my notes I see several songs marked as very good: Cradle Song, So soon forgotten and also the well-known None but the lonely heart. However when she sings at forte, sometimes even at mezzo-forte, the vibrato draws attention to itself and it makes me wonder what will happen in a few years’ time. Both interpretatively and vocally she has a more than passing similarity to Söderström who was an expert performer of Slavonic repertoire. Her voice also became more vibrant with the passing of time – but Ms Roocroft hasn’t reached that stage yet.

There is heartfelt singing throughout this disc. In the Debussy cycle, which isn’t easy to bring off, her dynamic shadings are sensitively done. For the Strauss group she adopts a lighter, brighter sound with Ständchen fresh as dew, Ruhe, meine Seele built as an impressive long arc and Cäcilie a glorious end to the recital.

Malcolm Martineau provides superb accompaniments throughout and the recording is first class. I derived a lot of pleasure from this disc but while that obvious wobble is there I will nt be completely won over. Readers who feel cautious about vibrato are advised to listen before buying.

Göran Forsling





 


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