WATCH LIVE: the
Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra & Kent Nagano 6 sept 2.30 PM GMT+1.
Natasha Marsh – Amour
1. Craig LEON (b. 1952) Si
un jour (from Jean de Florette) [4:00]
2. Erik SATIE (1866–1925) Gymnopédie No.
3. Alfredo CATALANI (1854–1893) Ebben?
Ne andro lontano (from Adriana Lecouvreur)
4. Nino ROTA (1911–1979) Ai
giochi addio (love theme from Rómeo et Juliet)
5. Joseph KOSMA (1905–1969) Autumn
6. Luis BACALOV (b.
1933) Mi mancherai (theme from Il postino)
7. Gabriel FAURÉ (1845–1924) Chanson
8. Jimmy WEBB (b. 1946) He
Moves, and Eyes Follow [3:26]
9. Ewan MacCOLL (1915–1989) The
First Time Ever I Saw Your Face [3:10]
10. John RUTTER (b.
1945) Et misericordia (from Magnificat)
11. Joseph CANTELOUBE (1879–1957) La
delaissado (from Songs of the Auvergne) [4:30]
12. Claudio MONTEVERDI (1567–1643) Pur
ti miro (from L’incoronazione di Poppea)*[3:45]
13. Leo DELIBES (1836–1891) Les
filles de Cadiz [3:27]
14. Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873–1943) Vocalise [4:05]
Fernando Lima (tenor)*, London Symphony Orchestra/Francois-Xavier
Roth (1, 3, 4, 6, 11); Craig Leon (2, 5, 8-10, 12-14);
Michael Francis (7); London Voices/Terry Edwards (10)
All tracks produced, arranged and mixed by Craig Leon, except
11, arranged by Joseph Canteloube
rec. Abbey Road Studios. No recording dates available.
EMI CLASSICS 374
Being tucked away in the arctic region I had not come across
Natasha Marsh. When I received the pre-issue disc – just plain
white with a large M on
it, no jewel case, no booklet – I searched the internet and
soon found her website. The photos showed a pretty young
woman with film star looks. My first thought was that here
was someone the company wants to launch as a singer based
on her exterior. “How prejudiced I am”, was my next thought. “Why
not give her a chance first?” So I put the disc in the player
and glanced through the track-list. A mixed bag, no doubt,
with quite a few songs I didn’t know, rubbing shoulders with
the odd aria, even a baroque opera duet and a couple of well-known
encores from concert singers’ repertoires.
The first track revealed a pretty voice, closely miked in what
seemed like artificial acoustics. A small voice, wasn’t it? She
tended to resort to crooning and there were some scoops up
to notes. Not an operatic voice, more a musical artist like
Sarah Brightman but not as bright, a little more husky. The
next track, an arrangement of Satie’s piano piece Gymnopédie
No. 1, was recorded more distantly and she used more
of her full voice. Not so small after all – and she didn’t
need to push for the high notes. It was clearer too – but
she still scooped. The aria from La Wally, territory
of big-voiced divas like Tebaldi and Callas, seemed an unwise
choice, but even though her timbre was light she could muster
enough power to make the music tell. Someone – Craig Leon
it turned out – had tampered with the orchestration and made
it more small-scale and couldn’t imagine her singing it in
a large opera house. From opera to movie: Nino Rota’s love
theme from Zefirelli’s Romeo and Juliet, had her back
on top of the microphone. A beautiful song – and a beautiful
voice, with a tendency to be shrieky when too much pressure
is put upon it. There followed more, predominantly slow songs,
prettily sung no doubt, but now halfway through the disc
I started feeling sleepy. Of course there was variation.
In Kosma’s Les feuilles mortes from 1945, sung here
in Johnny Mercer’s English version, she showed another peculiarity,
not uncommon today: she started a tone straight, with no
vibrato, and then gradually putting more pressure on it to
achieve a more vibrant sound. I rather liked it – it felt
Among the highlights was Et misericordia John Rutter. During
my choral singing days we used to sing quite a lot of Rutter,
both carols and more large scale works, his Requiem a
special favourite. This movement from his likewise fine Magnificat is
a wonderful piece with the soprano soaring above the chorus.
The Canteloube song, in the original orchestration – many
thanks for that! – with its atmospheric introduction was
a track to return to, while I didn’t warm especially to the
final duet from L’incoronazione di Poppea, according
to some scholars possibly by Cavalli. I would have liked
the lively middle section more sharply contrasted. Tenor
Fernando Lima sported an agreeable voice. Then, at last,
came the refreshing contrast, the rhythmically invigorating Les
filles de Cadiz by French ballet master Leo Delibes.
This has long been a favourite with sopranos, from Lily Pons
via Victoria de los Angeles to the new star Ana Maria Martinez
who included it on her recent recital for Naxos. Natasha
Marsh showed that she can be expressive, she had a trill
and she finished on a thrilling top note. Brava!
Rachmaninov’s Vocalise needs a fine legato and golden
tone, and that was what it got in Ms Marsh’s reading. When summing
up my impressions of this recital I could state that hers
is a quite beautiful, lyrical voice with potential but at
least in this programme she wasn’t allowed to show the full
scope of her ability.
The professionalism of the LSO and the London Voices can
never be questioned but the sound-picture in itself feels
It’s a studio sound – not a stage sound, and maybe in the
last resort this is a signal as to the potential target group
for the disc. The booklet has, besides more fine pictures,
personal comments on the music by Ms Marsh but little else,
not even timings of the individual tracks.
It’s pretty and sweet and often beautiful and occasionally
there is a flash of lightning to put life in the proceedings
the main there is too much icing and too little cake.
Gerard Hoffnung CDs
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