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Serge RACHMANINOV (1873-1943)
Julia Sukmanova (soprano)
Elena Sukmanova (piano)
rec. 2015,, Hamburg, Germany
No sung texts provided
Track listing at end of review

Carattere di donne (Women of Character)
Cornelia Lanz (mezzo-soprano)
Stefan Lux (piano)
rec. January 2015 Gabrielkirche, Ismaning, Munich
Sung texts provided with English translations

Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)
Dichterliebe, op. 48: (1840) [28:30]
Henri DUPARC (1848-1933)
Mélodies et Chansons: (1868) [22:05]
Frank MARTIN (1890-1974)
Sechs Monologe aus Jedermann: (1943) [19:06]
Martin Hempel (baritone)
Katherina Kegler (piano)
rec. January, May 2015 Aula Donnerbaum, Muttenz, Switzerland
No sung texts provided

Recently released on the Hänssler Classic label recently released are three attractive song recital albums from: soprano Julia Sukmanova; mezzo-soprano Cornelia Lanz and baritone Martin Hempel.

An active singer on the lieder and concert stage Julia Sukmanova with her accompanist, sister Elena Sukmanova, has chosen twenty-four Rachmaninov songs for her recital album. Described in the booklet notes as a German soprano, Sukmanova was actually born in Russia, a graduate in piano of the Rimsky-Korsakov Conservatoire, St. Petersburg who later trained as an opera singer at the State Academy of Music, Freiburg, Germany. Her singing teachers have included Montserrat Caballé, Dame Gwyneth Jones and Anna Tomowa-Sintow. Her pianist Elena Sukmanova studied with Leonid Sintsev at the Rimsky-Korsakov Conservatoire also studying with Elena Shafran and Sofia Vakman. Rachmaninov wrote songs between 1890 and 1916 achieving around eighty works in the genre. These are described in the booklet as “forming part of the Russian treasure trove of romances.” Julia Sukmanova displays her powerful vocalism and fine ability to move easily through her register although some issues with intonation need ironing out. My highlights include the early ‘A Dream’ (track 2) where the soprano demonstrates her ability to control her substantial vibrato. Described in the notes as the “climax of his vocal compositions... the young genius’s masterpiece” the splendidly melodic ‘Spring Waters’ (track 5) is gloriously rendered, so full of heart-on-sleeve passion. Best of all is the affecting dramatic impact the soprano achieves in the final song ‘A-oo!’ (track 24). Recorded in Hamburg the recording is immediate, pleasingly clear and relatively close, which I feel comes at the expense of ideal focus. There is a helpful essay in the booklet; however it is most disappointing that there are no sung texts or translations provided. I noticed a number of mistakes in the composition dates on the rear inlay card. Most of the songs are presented in chronological order.

Cornelia Lanz has titled her recital Carattere di donne, songs pertaining to women characters. Including works by Schubert, Verdi and Rossini her album is made up of fifteen songs and a single vocal cantata for solo voice and piano. This German mezzo-soprano studied voice at the Musikhochschule Stuttgart and the Manhattan School of Music, New York, her principal teachers being Thomas Pfeiffer and Mignon Dunn. Lanz is also a director of opera with productions to her name in New York, Dubai and Munch. A committed singer of lieder on the concert stage, here Lanz is accompanied on piano by Stefan Lux who studied in both Heidelberg and Stuttgart and has a special interest in Schubert’s life and music. Remarkably prolific as a composer Schubert is represented here by ten of his over six hundred songs. I especially enjoy Lanz’s stirring rendering of the terrifying song ‘Der Zwerg’ - The Dwarf (track 3) which includes the ‘Fate’ motif from Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. Lenz excels in the ‘Ave Maria’ (track 10) singing attractively and revealing a dark edge to her lower range. Verdi wrote a modest number of around thirty songs and Lanz has elected to sing four of them. Not surprisingly the songs reveal his operatic sensibilities and the highly melodic song ‘Non t'accostare all’urna’ (track 11) is aria-like, something which suits Lanz’s romantic voice down to the ground. Rossini is given a single song together with the fourteen and a half minute solo cantata ‘Giovanna d'Arco’ (track 16). Commencing with its substantial solo piano introduction the cantata allows the mezzo to demonstrate her versatility in its contrasting often dramatic moods. Striking throughout this recital is Lutz’s even projection and ability to soar easily to her high register. The engineers recorded the recital at the Gabrielkirche in Munich, providing a closely recorded sound that is over-bright in the forte passages and favours the piano in the balance, which makes for uncomfortable listening at times. Curiously the song listings aren’t numbered which is really annoying when selecting specific tracks. Titled ‘Only the soul that loves is happy?’ the booklet essay is reasonably interesting and helpful. I can happily report that sung texts have been provided together with English translations.
For his striking recital release Martin Hempel has chosen twenty-eight songs from the pens of Schumann, Duparc, Martin and Schubert. Leipzig born baritone Hempel is a former chorister of the famous Thomasschule in the city, noted for its associations with J.S. Bach and his family. A medical doctor Hempel studied singing with Rudolf Piernay at the Hochschule für Musik Mannheim and in London, and also with Beata Heuer-Christen at Freiberg and Irwin Gage in Zurich. Pianist Katherina Kegler studied at Freiberg, in Houston and later at the Banff Centre, Alberta. Hempel excels during this recital, providing effortless voice production and rather lovely vocal tone, smooth with beautiful phrasing. The baritone seems especially at one with the Dichterliebe cycle, Schumann’s glorious setting of texts by Heinrich Heine, giving particularly impressive colouration to his words and phrases. The Duparc Mélodies et Chansons are quite exquisitely rendered with Hempel clearly relishing the Frenchman’s atmospheric sound world. Admirably sung and repaying repeated hearing is Martin’s song cycle Sechs Monologe aus Jedermann a setting of Hugo von Hofmannsthal, relating a young man’s journey to redemption. Seemingly forgotten in the booklet notes Schubert’s ‘Litanei’ (track 28) is so beautifully sung by Hempel. Smooth and expressive in tone the baritone savours Schubert’s depth of emotion. Of real note is Kegler’s sensitive and alert accompaniment throughout. Wonderfully recorded at Aula Donnerbaum, Muttenz, Switzerland the sound team has excelled providing good clarity, presence and a satisfying balance between voice and piano. There is a concise yet useful essay in the booklet, however it is unfortunate that there are no sung texts or translations.

These interesting recital releases on Hänssler Classic have individual merits with Martin Hempel and Katherina Kegler being the best of the three.

Michael Cookson

Previous review (Rachmaninov): Terry Barfoot

Track listings
Songs, op.4 (1893)
1. Sing not to me, beautiful maiden, op.4/4
2. The dream, op.8/5
3. The soldier’s wife, op.8/4
4. Romanze: Like blossem dew freshen’d to gladness, op.8/2
Songs, op.14 (1894/96)
5. Spring waters, op.14/11
6. As fair as day in blaze of noon, op.14/9
7. The world would see the smile, op.14/6
8. I await you! op.14/1
9. In my soul, op.14/10
10. How few the joys, op.14/3
11. Do not believe me friend, op.14/7
12. The little island, op.14/2
13. I was with her, op.14/4
14. O, do not grieve! op.14/8
15. It is time, op.14/2
Songs, op.26 (1906)
16. Before my window, op.26/10
17. The lilacs, op.26/5
18. Fragment from Musset, op.26/6
19. Sad night, op.26/12
20. To the children, op.26/7
Songs, op.38 (1916)
21. Daisies, op.38/3
22. The Pied Piper, op38/4
Songs, op. 26 (1906)
23. All things depart, op.26/15
Songs, op.38 (1916)
24. A-oo! op.38/6

Carattere di donne (Women of Character)
Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
1. Die junge Nonne, D828
2. Vor meiner Wiege, D927
3. Der Zwerg, D771
4. Freudvoll und leidvoll, D210
Gesänge aus Wilhelm Meister, op.62, D877
5. Nur wer die Sehn,sucht kennt
6. Heiß mich nicht reden, heiß mich schweigen
7. So laßt mich scheinen, bis ich werde
Ellens Gesänge aus Das Fräulein am See, op.52
8. Raste Krieger! D837
9. Jäger, ruhe von der Jagd! D838
10. Ave Maria - Hymne an die Jungfrau, D839
Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901)
Composizioni da Camera - Sei Romanze: (1845)
11. Non t'accostare all'urna
12. La seduzione
13. In solitaria stanza
14. La zingara
Gioachino ROSSINI (1792-1868)
15. Ariette a l'ancienne
16. Cantata, Giovanna d'Arco (1832)

Martin Hempel
Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)
Dichterliebe, op. 48: (1840)
1. Im wunderschönen Monat Mai
2. Aus meinen Tränen sprießen
3. Die Rose, die Lilie, die Taube, die Sonne
4. Wenn ich in deine Augen seh
5. Ich will meine Seele tauchen
6. Im Rhein, im heiligen Strome
7. Ich grolle nicht t
8. Und wüßten's die Blumen, die kleinen
9. Das ist ein Flöten und Geigen
10. Hör ich das Liedchen klingen
11. Ein Jüngling liebt ein Mädchen
12. Am leuchtenden Sommermorgen
13. Ich hab' im Traum geweinet
14. Allnächtlich im Traume
15. Aus alten Märchen
16. Die alten, bösen Lieder
Henri DUPARC (1848-1933)
Mélodies et Chansons: (1868)
17. Chanson triste
18. Sérénade
19. L'invitation au voyage
20. Extase
21. Phidylé
Frank MARTIN (1890-1974)
Sechs Monologe aus Jedermann: (1943)
22. Ist als zu End das Freudenmahl
23. Ach Gott, wie graust mir vor dem Tod
24. Ist als wenn eins gerufen hätt
25. So wollt ich ganz zernichtet sein
26. Ja! ich glaub: solches hat er vollbracht
27. O ewiger Gott! o göttliches Gesicht!
Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
28. Litanei auf das Fest Aller Seelen 'Am Tage Aller Seelen', D343 (1816)



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