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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
booklet has some brief information about the composers, music
and performers; but no texts or translations – a serious flaw
for a recital disc.
see also Review
by Jonathan Woolf