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Jonathan Lemalu - Song Recital
Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)
Vier Ernste Gesang Op 121 [17:49]
Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
Der Wanderer an den Mond D870 [2:28]
Auf der Donau D553 [3:15]
Der Schiffer D536 [2:04]
Der Wanderer D489 [5:24]
Gabriel FAURÉ (1845-1924)
L’Horizon Chimérique Op 118 [8:22]
Gerald FINZI (1901-1924)
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The Estuary [5.05]
Jonathan Lemalu (bass-baritone)
Roger Vignoles (piano)

rec. Potton Hall, Westleton, Suffolk, 22-27 January 2002
EMI CLASSICS 2081232 [60.46] 

 

Experience Classicsonline


I missed this disc on its first issue in 2002 so I am pleased to make its acquaintance in its second incarnation.  It is a mixture of the familiar and less familiar which makes for an enjoyable recital.
 

The Brahms Vier Ernste Gesang, composed a year before the composer's death, is a dark, sombre quartet of songs with words from Ecclesiastes and St Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians. It is sung here with an intensity and a real feeling for the words. As an example in the third song listen to the words O Tod, wie bitter bist du (O death, how bitter is the remembrance of thee) and hear the intensity Lemalu brings to the phrase each time it is sung. 

The four Schubert items make me wish this had been a full recital of this composer’s songs, especially "Auf der Donau", (with a wonderful bottom F sharp!), and "Der Schiffer", with its beautifully rhythmic piano and well enunciated German text. 

In Fauré’s "L'Horizon chimérique" ("The Illusory Horizon") he lightens his tone somewhat to good effect giving a spellbinding rendition of these four songs with some excellent sustained singing. 

The remainder of the disc is devoted to more familiar English folk-songs which he sings with relish; excellent diction, and word-painting reminiscent of Fischer-Dieskau. All the words are crystal clear - something not always guaranteed with the younger generation of singers. 

Any recital disc can stand or fall if the accompanist is not up to the mark, but Jonathan Lemalu has an expert in this field with Roger Vignoles. He provides sensitive playing of a high order. 

The disc won the prestigious Gramophone award for Best Debut Recording at the 2002 awards, and quite deservedly so. This was the start of a bright future for this New Zealand-born Samoan performer. 

The booklet has some brief information about the composers, music and performers; but no texts or translations – a serious flaw for a recital disc.

Arther Smith

see also Review by Jonathan Woolf


 


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