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Hera Hyesang Park (soprano)
I am Hera Johannes Maria Bogner (harpsichord)
Wiener Symphoniker/Bertrand de Billy
rec. 29 June - 4 July 2020, Mozart-Saal, Konzerthaus, Vienna. DDD.
Texts and translations included with CD.
Reviewed as downloaded from press preview. No booklet with download.
CD and download from some dealers; download only from others. DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 4839456
I almost missed this among the recent Decca and DG releases; I’m glad that
I didn’t. With Cecilia Bartoli’s Queen of the Baroque among
Universal Classics’ recent output (4851275), Hera Hyesang Park’s debut
recital, with its very varied repertoire, could easily have been
overlooked, though I should have remembered that Mike Parr was full of
praise for her singing in the role of the heroine in Rossini’s Sigismondo –
In fact, the virtues of this album are an almost exact foil to Bartoli’s;
where the Italian mezzo is often close to being over the top – delightfully
so, I add – the young soprano Korean’s singing is a model of the kind of
understatement that nevertheless makes its point. A word of warning for
Bartoli enthusiasts: almost all of her ‘new’ album consists of reissues,
and many of the tracks are of familiar music. It’s one of the virtues of
this new DG release that it frequently avoids giving us the obvious choice.
It’s hard to tell from the range of this programme what Hera should
now make her speciality.
The opening items from Gluck’s Orfeo, Pergolesi’s La Serva Padrona and Handel’s Giulio Cesare suggest that
it should be the baroque period. I was about to suggest that we needed a
new recording of the Pergolesi, but I note that Da Vinci Classics have just
released one, with violin sonatas (DVC00176) and Brilliant Classics have
reissued the Tactus recording, with a first recording of Tarabella’s much
rarer modern sequel, Il Servo Padrone (95360 –
review). I haven’t yet heard either.
Even within those four tracks there is considerable variety of mood. If I
single out Cleopatra’s Se pietà di me non senti from Giulio Cesare,
not only most winningly sung, but one of the less familiar items that I
mentioned, that’s certainly not to disparage the other items.
There’s more familiar repertoire to follow: Mozart’s Deh vieni, non tardar and Rosina’s Una voce poco fa from
Rossini’s Il Barbiere, and the singing here seems even more
perfect. Not since Callas tempered her voice, as an improbable choice for
Rosina, in the recording with Alceo Galliera (Warner 2564634089, budget
price) have I heard a better characterisation of the music and the
character – and dare I say that, though Callas, not always my favourite
singer, is superb in the part, Hera sings with greater beauty of tone? Hera
has already sung Rossini in the recording referred to above, so perhaps
another Rossini role should be her next stop?
If I single out the two Puccini arias from the rest of the programme,
that’s more on account of my love for the composer than for any defect in
the rest of the programme. How about Hera as Madame Butterfly? Or, indeed,
as Mimi, the seamstress whose name is really Lucia?
The two closing items, by Korean composers, seem tailor made for the voice
– but, then, so does everything else on this gem of a recording. The setting
of Psalm 23 receives a beautiful pastoral performance, rising to heights of
yearning, the coloratura voice here as elsewhere beautifully tempered to the
Sensitive but positive singing benefits from – and receives – a sensitive
but positive accompaniment. The Vienna Symphony Orchestra, who recently
coped so well with the unknown situation of a New Year’s concert without an
audience, here proves itself equal to the task of assisting in a very wide
range of periods and styles. You might not normally make them first choice
for Handel, Pergolesi or Gluck, perhaps more so for Bellini and Puccini,
but there’s nothing for lovers of period performance to get agitated about
in the earlier music. The recording, too, which reached me in 16-bit wav
format, seems ideal for the performances; it benefits from being played a
notch or two louder than usual.
My press download came with a booklet, containing texts and translations,
but none of the downloads or streamed versions that I checked came with a
booklet. That’s a serious departure from DG’s normal practice, especially
so with vocal music. I’m afraid that I have come to expect the lack of a
booklet with downloads from their Universal team-mate Decca, as is the case
with the reissue of an otherwise attractive recording of Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte,
directed in 1978 by Alain Lombard and starring Kiri Te Kanawa, Peter
Hoffmann and Kurt Moll, resurrected from the defunct Barclay label (4855200
– by the time that you read this, Mike Parr’s review should have appeared).
Some dealers offer this recording as an import; from others, it comes as a
download only. In some areas, the catalogue number apparently ends in
-5, not -6.
My complaint about the lack of a booklet with the commercial
download mars, but certainly does not spoil my enjoyment of a first recital
recording from someone from whom I want to hear much more.
Contents Christoph Willibald GLUCK (1714-1787) Orfeo ed Euridice, Wq30: Qual vita è questa mai [1:38]
Che fiero momento
Giovanni Battista PERGOLESI (1710-1736) La Serva Padrona: Stizzoso, mio stizzoso
George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759) Giulio Cesare in Egitto: Se pietà di me non senti
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Le nozze di Figaro, K492: Giunse alfin il momento [1:09]
Deh vieni, non tardar
Gioachino ROSSINI (1792-1868) Il barbiere di Siviglia: Una voce poco fa
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART Idomeneo, K366: Quando avran fine omai [3:29]
Padre, germani, addio!
Don Giovanni, K527: Vedrai, carino [3:19]
Die Zauberflöte, K620: Ach, ich fühl’s, es ist verschwunden [3:25]
Gioachino ROSSINI Il Turco in Italia: Non si dà follia maggiore
Vincenzo BELLINI (1801-1835) I Capuleti e I Montecchi: Eccomi in lieta vesta
Oh! quante volte ti chiedo
Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924) La bohème, SC67: Quando m’en vo soletta [2:29]
Gianni Schicchi, SC88: O mio babbino caro [2:14]
Joowon KIM (b.1984) Like the Wind That Met with Lotus [5:27]
Un-Yung LA (1922-1993) Psalm 23 (arr. Bernhard Eder) [5:13]