Collection: Elly Ameling

COMPOSERS: CPE Bach,Schubert,Schumann & Brahms; cantatas by JS Bach,Telemann & Handel (excerpts)
LABELS: Deutsche Harmonia Mundi
WORKS: Lieder by Schubert, Schumann & Brahms; cantatas by JS Bach, CPE Bach, Telemann & Handel (excerpts)
PERFORMER: Elly Ameling with Jorg Demus (fortepiano), Gustav Leonhardt (harpsichord), Norman Shetler (piano); Collegium Aureum/FranzJosef Maier
CATALOGUE NO: 74321 26617 2 ADD (1964-68)

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Elly Ameling has been so central a figure in the vocal landscape of recent decades that an important aspect of this set — namely, that her recordings from the Sixties were primarily in the domain of period performances — comes as something of a surprise.

Not only are the first two discs given over to her collaborations with the period instrument-playing Collegium Aureum in the 18th-century works, but on the last two Jorg Demus employs fortepianos (not named in the booklet, which, incidentally, is very poorly proofread and garbles the order of some of the tracks).

The recordings confirm that as a younger singer, Ameling possessed qualities – purity of tone coupled with accurate intonation, and a certain restraint in inflection — that have since become highly prized (and hence further refined) in the singing of early music. But they also exhibit in healthy measure the unique combination of vocal traits that makes Ameling one of the most distinctive singers of her era.

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One can only admire a performer who commands the alchemy that transforms sophisticated subtleties of technique — such as the flexible deployment of a wide, carefully gradated range of vibrato effects -into apparently artless, unaffected and ‘natural’ artistry. Although Ameling’s admirers will enjoy the whole set, not all these performances are recommendable to the general collector.