The late Patric Standford may have written these short pieces deliberately to provoke our feedback. If so, his success is reflected in the rich range of readers' comments appearing at the foot of most of the pages.
Firstly, my apologies for reviewing this disc in a rather protracted way, but space constraints prohibit me from giving all the information I would like to. Indeed, this issue is so rich in historical and musical details that it would be almost impossible to say all in just two or three paragraphs. So I will skim across the surface.
This is Volume 4 of Malcolm Martineau's ongoing cycle: Decades - A Century of Song, and covers the years 1840-50. As in previous volumes, Martineau presents us with a wide range of songs which are as unpredictable as they are beautiful. The programme travels through songs by Alexander Dargomizhsky (1813-1869) written for his St Petersburg students, via little known melodies by César Franck (1822-1890) and three Swedish composers: Adolph Lindblad (1801-1878), Jacob Josephson (1818-1880) and Erik Geijer (1783-1847).
Listen — Erik Gustav Geijer: Natthimelen, Op 6 No 2
(track 23, 0:00-0:25) © 2019 Vivat Music Foundation :
Gaetano Donizetti (1797-1848) makes his bow with the amorously grieving 'Una lacrima' and 'Il Sospiro' and the presence of Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847) is impressively displayed through four extremely contrasting songs representing the mysteries of Night, the beauty of Spring and the dangerous lure of Women.
Listen — Mendelssohn: Warnung vor dem Rhein, WoO 16
(track 27, 0:00-0:56) © 2019 Vivat Music Foundation :
Top of the bill is Liederkreis, the title of this CD, Heine's cycle of love frustrated and love betrayed, beguilingly described in music by Robert Schumann (1810-1856) which is ardently bittersweet.
Listen — Schumann: Mit Myrten und Rosen (Liederkreis)
(track 9, 3:01-3:57) © 2019 Vivat Music Foundation :
The programme is mellifluously performed and all the songs give immense pleasure. Martineau's singers have fresh, youthful voices and they are consistently caring for each word in the texts, while his own playing is sensitive and coloured throughout. Those interested in this collection of this revelatory series should want to have this issue, whose many attractions are enhanced by some pristine sound quality and superb, wide-ranging notes from Susan Youens. Volume 5 is keenly anticipated.
Copyright © 21 April 2020