MusicWeb International One of the most grown-up review sites around 2023
Approaching 60,000 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here Acte Prealable Polish CDs

Presto Music CD retailer
Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             


Some items
to consider

new MWI
Current reviews

old MWI
pre-2023 reviews

paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews

All HDTT reviews

Songs to Harp from
the Old and New World

all Nimbus reviews

all tudor reviews

Follow us on Twitter

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


Akiko Nakajima - Plaisir d’amour
Johann Paul Aegidius MARTINI (1741–1816)
1. Plaisir d’amour [3:34]
Alessandro SCARLATTI (1660–1725)
2. Le Violette [2:23]
3. Sento nel core [4:11]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756–1791)
4. Ridente la calma [3:24]
Vincenzo BELLINI (1801–1835)
5. La ricordanza [4:57]
Album per canto di Auber-Cagnoni-Mercadante-Ricci-Thomas-Verdi a benefizio del poeta F. M. Piave
François AUBER (1782–1871)
6. L’esultanza* [2:26]
Antonio CAGNONI (1828–1896)
7. Pensiero d’amore* [3:09]
Saviero MERCADANTE (1795–1870)
8. L’Abbandonata [5:02]
Federico RICCI (1809–1877)
9. Lamento* [2:54]
Ambroise THOMAS (1811–1896)
10. Sola! (Canzone danese* [2:54]
Giuseppe VERDI (1813–1901)
11. Stornello [1:54]
12. La prece dell’orfana (Romanza) [3:09]
13. La palomma (from 4 canzoni napolitane) [2:50]
Paolo TOSTI (1846–1916)
14. Aprile [2:59]
15. Tormento! … [3:16]
16. Ideale [2:57]
17. Chanson de l’adieu [2:20]
18. Goodbye [4:05]
Akiko Nakajima (soprano), Niels Muus (piano)
rec. Casa Paganini, Genova, Italy, March 2007
* denotes World Premiere Recording
Sung texts enclosed
DYNAMIC CDS556 [58:29]


Experience Classicsonline

The title of this disc might lead readers to dismiss it as ‘just another collection of popular classics’. Nothing could be more wrong. It is true that Padre Martini’s Plaisir d’amour has been over-exposed and performed in innumerable arrangements of variable quality. A couple of Tosti’s songs are frequently heard but when did you last hear one sung by a soprano? This has been tenor territory, at least since the days of Caruso, and too often served as vehicles for exhibitions in bravura. It is something of a purification bath to have them sung as intimate Lieder by a light lyrical voice.

I will comment more in detail on the whole programme in a moment; let me just say that Mozart’s lovely Ridente la calma appears now and then in recital and Verdi’s Stornello is probably his best known song – as opposed to the opera arias. But I wonder how many readers can claim to be familiar with the remaining songs. There are even four world premiere recordings here by one-time-greats, so even if the performances had been just so-so the disc would have been of interest. And there is certainly nothing mediocre about them. In fact Ms Nakajima had me captivated all through the programme. She has a soft and comfortable voice, lyrical and quite small it seems, which is confirmed by her biography. Her roles have been Handel and Mozart, the Italian bel canto – including Lucia – Sophie in Der Rosenkavalier and some operetta. Her dynamic scope isn’t very wide but within this scope she still finds a lot of nuance and expressiveness – in many ways an ideal voice for Lieder and Mélodies.

She employs a great deal of rubato in the opening Plaisir d’amour which, considering the period of its composition may be anachronistic – and so does the piano accompaniment, not least the postlude. But it is an agreeable performance that I will be pleased to play to guests as an alternative to Mireille Mattieu or Edith Piaf. The two Scarlatti arias are light and fluent and Ridente la calma is also light and charming without too much detail. There is elegance and softness in the Bellini song, composed in 1834, which opera enthusiasts will recognize as a preliminary study for Elvira’s Qui la voce from I Puritani. Good legato, beautiful tone and exemplary accompaniment. Just a few weeks ago I heard the song, which evidently was found not so long ago, with José Carreras and good as it was in his reading I can’t help feeling that it is better suited to a female voice.

The next six songs were published in 1869 at the initiative of Giuseppe Verdi. This was the year that Francesco Maria Piave, the author of the librettos for Aroldo, I due Foscari, Ernani, La forza del destino, Macbeth, Rigoletto, Simon Boccanegra and Stiffelio, suffered an apoplectic stroke and got into financial trouble. Verdi helped him with a generous donation but he also managed to get a number of then important opera composers to write songs for this album, the takings from which would also go to Piave. Not only Verdi but also the other three Italian composers had written operas to librettos by Piave: Mercadante set La schiava saracena, Ricci Crispino e la Comare and Cagnoni La Tombola. The last two mentioned are forgotten today but were highly regarded for their comic operas and some of their works were played until the end of the 19th century. The two French composers were close friends to Verdi.

Auber’s contribution is a lovely song, simple but affecting, Cagnoni’s is melodically attractive and very well sung and Mercadante’s is a splendid composition, expressive and with fine accompaniment. Thomas’s and Ricci’s songs are OK but more ordinary and Verdi’s Stornello is the masterpiece of the album.

Mercadante’s operas are rarely heard today but the composer is still more than a footnote in the history books and at least some arias can be heard occasionally on recital records. The two further songs by him confirm that he was something more than just a run-of-the-mill composer and La palomma, nervously rocking in ¾ time, is certainly worth hearing more than once.

The concluding group of Tosti songs are all out of his top drawer and as so often he manages to create something more than agreeable parlour songs. Aprile is especially lovely to hear with a female voice – far from the breast-beating of stentorian male heroes. Tormento!, as can be seen from the title, is a dramatic song and here she goes slightly beyond what is natural for her lyric voice and develop a vibrato that is noticeable but to particularly disturbing. Again she shows her care about nuances. Ideale may sound bloodless when mentally compared to  her many big-voiced predecessors but her lyrical approach certainly pays dividends. Then she rounds of the programme with two farewells, both sensitively and beautifully performed and seldom has Goodbye sounded so longingly.

The recording is excellent, the pianist is good and the booklet has all the sung texts but alas no translations. With constantly well considered readings and an interesting programme this disc should be of interest to even well-stocked lovers of songs.

Göran Forsling 


Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Chandos recordings
All Chandos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all Bridge reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

All Eloquence reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing




Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Past and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

Return to Review Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.