RECORDING OF THE MONTH
George GERSHWIN (1898-1937)
Samuel BARBER (1910-1981)
Sure on this Shining Night [2:20]; The Monk and his Cat [2:34]
Edward ELGAR (1857-1934)
The Shepherd's Song [2:49]
Gabriel FAURÉ (1845-1924)
Clair de Lune [3:06]; Soir [2:20]; Notre Amour [2:08]
Roger QUILTER (1877-1953)
Now Sleeps the Crimson Petal [2:04]; Love's Philosophy [1:30]
Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
Who is Sylvia? [2:48]; Auf dem Wasser zu Singen [3:43]
Thomas ARNE (1710-1778)
Where the Bee Sucks [1:40]
Hector BERLIOZ (1803-1869)
L'Ile Inconnue [3:35]; Villanelle [2:18]
Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)
Der Nussbaum [3:40]
Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)
Meine Liebe ist Grün [1:35]
Liza LEHMANN (1862-1918)
Ah, Moon of my Delight [4:27]
Frank BRIDGE (1879-1941)
Go Not, Happy Day [1:35]
Frederick DELIUS (1862-1934)
To Daffodils [2:14]
Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958)
Orpheus with his Lute [2:23]
John IRELAND (1879-1962)
The Trellis [2:45]
Haydn WOOD (1882-1959)
A Brown Bird Singing (1922) [2:29]
The Lark in the Clear Air [1:32]
Peter WARLOCK (1894-1930)
Cole PORTER (1891-1964)
The Tale of an Oyster [3:09]
Leonard BERNSTEIN (1918-1990)
My House [1:45]
Michael HEAD (1900-1976)
The Little Road to Bethlehem [2:32]
Harold FRASER-SIMSON (1872-1944)
John RUTTER (b.1945)
The Lord Bless You and Keep You [2:15]
Felicity Lott (soprano)
Graham Johnson (piano)
rec. Champs Hill Music Room, Pulborough, Sussex, April 2000. DDD
CHAMPS HILL RECORDS CHRCD008 [74:35]
This programme was originally released on Black Box (BBM3007) in 2000, shortly after the recording took place. Champs Hill Records re-released it last summer, attractively packaged with full song texts (translated where necessary) included in the booklet.
Like many other discs before - Hyperion's recent re-release on their Helios label of Poulenc songs, warmly reviewed here, for example - this is in essence a Felicity Lott with Graham Johnson showcase. The amount of space devoted to their biographies and photos - a double side apiece - compared to nothing on any of the many composers, testifies to that.
That does not matter very much: this is, after all, a CD celebrating summer through beautiful music. The selection of songs is generous and varied - the majority in English, but several in German and French too, from the 18th to the late 20th centuries, from Franz Schubert's quintessential lieder to Leonard Bernstein's musical theatre. All the songs, whether familiar old favourites or not, are of a mellifluous, lyrical bent, some reflective, some joyous, many of them celebrating love; all conjuring up the warm, hazy afternoons or long, lazy evenings of summer.
In this splendidly chosen programme, 29 songs simply whizz by - regardless of the weather outside! So ravishing is most of the music, and so captivating the performances of Lott and Johnson that it hardly matters that some of the poetry is little more than doggerel, that virtually all the songs have been plundered from song cycles and opuses, or that one of the art songs is an impostor: Cole Porter's The Tale of an Oyster.
Felicity Lott has made French songs her speciality - or one of them, at least - and sings very well in the language. Her German too is more than respectable. Yet whatever language she sings in, Lott does it with total understanding of the meanings of the texts, lovely enunciation and impeccable intonation. The same may be said of Graham Johnson's piano. Together they make a formidable team. Not everyone will love Lott's voice but it is almost inconceivable that anyone could dislike it.
The CD booklet has at least a brief note on every song. There are one or two typos dotted about, but with so many different texts and translations - which are both literal and of good standard - these are easily forgiven. Sound and technical quality are excellent, as they almost invariably are at Champs Hill. Refreshing too that the production team allow at least five seconds of silence between tracks.
In sum, from beginning to end this is a gorgeous, unmissable disc for all seasons.
Collected reviews and contact at reviews.gramma.co.uk
see also review by Oleg Ledeniov
A gorgeous, unmissable disc for all seasons.