Giacomo MEYERBEER (1791–1864)
1. Le ricordanze (1833) [3:22]
2. De’ miei giorni (Délire)(1840) [2:46]
3. Il nascere e il fiorire d’una rosa (1823) [2:36]
Sei (6) canzonette italiane (1810)
4. Sceglier fra mille un core [1:34]
5. Da voi, da voi, cari lumi [2:40]
6. Giura il nocchier [1:53]
7. Bei labbri che amore [3:42]
8. Se non ti moro allato [1:56]
9. Basta dir ch’io sono amante [1:41]
10. La dame invisible (1845) [4:49]
11. Rachel à Nephtali (1834) [5:08]
12. La Ballade de la Reine Marguerite de Valois (1829) [2:50]
13. Sur le balcon (1845) [5:09]
14. Le baptême (1839) [2:24]
15. La folle de St Joseph (1837) [3:45]
16. Chant de mai (1837) [3:43]
17. Nella (1838) [3:18]
18. Komm, du schönes Fischermädchen (1837) [2:01]
19. Die Rose, die Lilie, die Taube, die Sonne (1838) [1:58]
20. Hör ich das Liedchen klingen (1837) [1:14]
21. Suleika (1838) [2:37]
22. Mina (Lied des venezianischen Gondiliers (1837) [1:45]
23. Luft von Morgen [1841) [3:20]
24. Der Garten des Herzens (1839) [1:00]
25. Scirocco (1837) [1:33]
26. Frühling im Versteck (1847) [2:22]
Sivan Rotem (soprano), Jonathan Zak (piano)
rec. Jerusalem Music Centre, Jerusalem, Israel, 14-17 June and 2-4 August 2009.
Texts may be downloaded from
NAXOS 8.572367 [71:54]

Giacomo Meyerbeer was born in Berlin into a wealthy German-Jewish family. As a young man he visited Italy and wrote five operas in Rossinian style. He returned to Berlin where he held several important posts. It was however in Paris that he was most successful with his grand operas, the most famous of which was Les Huguenots. He also wrote songs throughout his life and the twenty-six examples recorded here cover a period of thirty-seven years, from the six Italian canzonette from 1810, when he was still a teenager, to Frühling im Versteck from 1847. A majority of them are from the late 1830s, which seem to have been his Lieder-years. Meyerbeer’s songs are relatively rare birds in the concert halls but there have been a number of recordings. Among them Anne Sofie von Otter, Thomas Hampson and mezzo-soprano Ning Liang can be mentioned. Further back in time Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau recorded fourteen songs for Archiv Produktion. No fewer than nine of the songs on the present disc are world premiere recordings so this is a valuable addition to the catalogue. Naxos are certainly doing a lot to amend the recorded repertoire.

Sivan Rotem, born in Buenos Aires but trained in Haifa and Tel Aviv, is an accomplished singer – and beautiful! A couple of years ago, when I reviewed a mixed recital with her, a reader wrote to me: ‘I could buy the record just for her eyes!’ But that’s not her only attribute. She has a beautiful voice as well, slightly worn today but skilfully and expressively used. She has an accompanist that is among the most experienced pianists now before the public. Jonathan Zak was one of the founders of the world famous Yuval Trio which has toured the world for decades and recorded for Deutsche Grammophon, CBS and other premium labels. The accompaniments are not always very sophisticated but with the sensitive playing Zak bestows upon them they stand out as nobler than they are. The songs themselves are hardly on the level of Schubert, Schumann or Mendelssohn but they are melodious and attractive on a more modest plane. There is very often a sense of the opera house about them.

The poems, in Italian, French and German, are mostly by writers long since forgotten. Metastasius is the master behind the Sei canzonette italiano, there is a single Goethe text (Suleika), a single text by Wilhelm Müller (Der Garten des Herzens), and three Heine poems (trs. 18-20) of which two also appear in Schumann’s Dichterliebe. Actually Meyerbeer set them a couple of years before Schumann but they can hardly be mentioned on the same day as Schumann’s. In their own right they are well worth hearing but don’t play Schumann directly afterwards. I did, which I regret.

Nella (tr. 17) is one of my favourites and Goethe obviously inspired Meyerbeer to such an extent that it is probably the gem of the whole collection. Also the Müller setting (tr. 24) is worth hearing, not least for the accompaniment with a fugue-inspired intro and interlude. This is followed by two further highlights and thus the recital ends on the highest possible level. Committed singing throughout, slightly marred by a vibrato that is wider than one ideally wants – but her beautiful eyes are the same as before!

Göran Forsling

Melodious and attractive songs on a more modest plane with something of the opera house about them.