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Hyunah Yu - soprano
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685 – 1750)
Cantata BWV 32: Liebster Jesu, mein Verlangen [6:36]¹
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756 – 1791)
Zaide, K 344/336b: Ruhe sanft, mein holdes Leben [6:30]; Tiger! Wetze nur die Klauen [4:52]; Trostlos schluchzet Philomele [7:15]
Johann Sebastian BACH
Wedding Cantata BWV 202, excerpts: Weichet nur, betrübte Schatten [7:50]¹ ; Drum sucht auch Amor sein Vergnügen [0:45]; Wenn die Frühlingslüfte streichen [2:56]² ; Und dieses ist das Glücke [0:54]; Sich üben im Lieben [4:50]¹
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART
Die Zauberflöte, K 620: Ach, ich fühl’s, es ist verschwunden [4:06]
Don Giovanni, K 527: Vedrai, carino [3:25]
Johann Sebastian BACH
St Matthew Passion, BWV 244: Er hat uns allen wohlgetan [1:11]; 13. Aus Liebe will mein Heiland sterben [5:11]³
Cantata BWV 151: Süsser Trost, mein Jesus kommt [11:54]³
Hyunah Yu (soprano)
Vladislav Borovka (oboe solo)¹; Jan Fišer (violin solo); Jirí Sevčik (flute solo)³
Prague Philharmonia/Shuntaro Sato
rec. 16–19 June 2006, CNSOP Hostivař Studios, Prague and 29 June, 2006 at Menuhin Hall, Stoke d’Abernon
EMI CLASSICS DEBUT 0946 3 68255 2 6 [68:22]
Having made her New York recital debut at Carnegie Hall as recently as 2004, Korean-American soprano Hyunah Yu has rapidly become a much sought after soloist. She has worked with conductors like Gergiev, Bychkov and Zinman. In 2006 she sang the title role of Peter Sellars’ new production of Mozart’s Zaide in Vienna, London and New York. Judging by her debut CD she should be a valuable addition to today’s roster of lyrical sopranos. Competition is keen of course and her voice so far belongs in the lightest category, suited for the boys’ soprano arias by Bach and the most lyrical Mozart parts.
It’s a bright voice with a distinct sparkling vibrato in the upper register while her lowest notes so far tend to be a bit husky and fairly weak. She has a way of squeezing the tone so that it takes a fraction of a second before it finds its centre, giving an impression that she is a notch behind the beat. At least that was what I first thought in the opening Bach aria and also, to some extent, in Ruhe sanft. Later on, however, it didn’t bother me at all, possibly having got used to it. When I went back to the first tracks the singing felt just as satisfying there as in the rest of the programme. What was obvious from the start was her sensitive phrasing and her willingness to sing softly. Technically there is very little to regret, apart from the fact that some runs in the Bach arias felt a bit mechanical as if they lacked purpose, but that of course is more a question of interpretation. It can often be felt in baroque repertoire that a singer goes through the motions more or less dutifully.
The three Zaide arias show her well inside the role. Ruhe sanft, certainly one of the most beautiful of Mozart’s arias, is warmly sung. In the dramatic Tiger! Wetze nur die Klauen she shows an intensity of attack that came as something of a surprise while she is suitably vulnerable in the third aria – in reality the second. I can’t see a reason for presenting them in this haphazard order.
According to the booklet Bach is her passion, which is convincingly shown in the excerpts from the Wedding Cantata, where especially the last aria; Sich üben im Lieben is performed with a captivating swagger. A pity there wasn’t room for the whole cantata.
Both her Pamina and Zerlina are well sung, but it seems that she takes more naturally to the sadness of the former, with ethereal soft high notes, than to the more earthbound peasant girl.
She sings Aus Liebe will mein Heiland sterben from the St Matthew Passion with aching beauty; the flute and the voice entwine in a marvellous duet. But arguably the most marvellous music and the most marvellous singing comes in the very last number, the long soprano aria from the cantata No. 151. If I were her agent and wanted to convince a reluctant producer about the young soprano’s potential, this is the track I would select.
The Prague Philharmonia play well and the three instrumental soloists are really superb. I sometimes wished, though, that they had been somewhat more closely balanced. Apart from that the sound is good. There is a short note on the music by Julian Haylock but no texts.
It is always a pleasure to hear a singer in at the beginning of her career with the freshness of the voice intact and no signs of wear and tear. Just as with the Russian baritone Rodion Pogossov, whose disc in this same series I admired greatly (see review), I am sure Hyunah Yu will have a prosperous future.
Göran Forsling

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