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Family Connections
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano)
Malcolm Martineau (piano)
rec. St Georges, Bristol, 1993
NIMBUS NI6395 [64:14]

What a charming idea it was to look into this grand family’s illustrious history to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the Rothschilds, and bring back to life their connections with composers of the 19th century. Due to the family’s prominent role in Europe’s social life, most of the names that came up were, of course, familiar to lovers of classical music. On the other hand, we find less known names on the record, and fully 9 of the 26 tracks are compositions by a family member, Mathilde de Rothschild.

Born Mathilde von Rothschild in 1832 in Frankfurt in the Vienna branch of the family, she was at the forefront of European culture of the time, and studied music with Frédéric Chopin. She wrote a plethora of songs, some of them to be performed by famous singers such as Adelina Patti. Volumes of her songs were published in 1878 and in the late 1880s. The fact that her descendant Charlotte de Rothschild lends her soprano to this recording makes the connections come full circle.

We have on this disc Mathilde de Rothschild’s Sechs Lieder, a German cycle, and three other songs. The family’s European character manifests itself in the fact that Mathilde set texts in German, English and French. Her French Romance is maybe the most beautiful of the selection of her songs in this compilation. For a concise record of her songs, one can recommend a compilation of a staggering 61 songs and lieder (Nimbus NI5903). This CD, on the other hand, is a good introduction to her works, and at the same time shows the wealth of artistic and musical exchange between composers of the day and this outstanding family.

Charlotte de Rothschild’s singing is very good, and makes it clear that she is the right person for the task, especially with the very thoughtful accompaniment by the Scottish pianist Malcolm Martineau. After graduating from the Royal College of Music, Martineau worked with the greatest singers of our time and has made numerous song recordings, from Schubert, Schumann and English song recitals to Fauré. He was appointed an International Fellow of Accompaniment in 2009.

The booklet comes with an account of the history of the Rothschild family and its musical connections, as well as information on Charlotte de Rothschild and Malcolm Martineau, in English only. The lyrics are given in English, German and French. There are a few amusing errors in the track list.

It is a charming disc which, thanks to Charlotte de Rothschild’s clear soprano, showcases the family’s cultured history in a wonderful light: from Mendelssohn to Sir Arthur Sullivan, who was the first Mendelssohn scholar at Leipzig. It fills one with awe to think of all these great and worthy composers stepping up the stairs into the Rothschilds’ chalets, castles and Schlösser for some pastime with good company. It must have been illustrious, informal gatherings that one would have fain been a part of. Now this CD helps at least the musical part of it to come back to life. Especially so, as Charlotte, the descendant of the Rothschilds of the 19th century, interprets so well the compositions that were once heard by her ancestors in a family atmosphere.

Max Burgdörfer
1. Felix Mendelssohn: Auf Flügeln des Gesanges
2. Giacomo Meyerbeer: The rare Flower
3. Reynaldo Hahn: A Cloris
4. Louis Spohr: Nachgefühl
5-7. Mathilde de Rothschild: Der Komet; My Lady Sleeps; Romance
8. Franz Liszt: S‘il est un charmant gazon
9. Jacques Halévy: Canzonetta
10. Frédéric Chopin: Mazurka Nr. 45 a-moll op. 67 Nr. 4
11-12. Gioachino Rossini: Mi lagnerò tacendo; Aragonese
13. Vincenzo Bellini: Dolente immagine
14. Samuel Barber: The Daisies
15-20. Mathilde de Rothschild: Sech Lieder (Schmerzvergessen; Nicht nur, wenn uns're Pfade; Ein Herz in mir; Wiegenlied; Es grüsset dich aus fernem Land; Als ich dich kaum geseh'n)
21. Luigi Cherubini: Canto d'armida
22. Franz Liszt: Der du von dem Himmel bist
23. Samuel Barber: The monk and his cat
24. Francis Poulenc: À sa guitar
25. Anton Rubinstein: Hüte dich
26. Sir Arthur Sullivan: Where the bee sucks

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