Songs, Lieder and Arias by Copland, Gluck, Handel, Ives, Mahler, Rachel Portman et al
Joyce DiDonato (soprano); Il Pomo d’Oro/Maxim Emelyanychev
Erato 9029646515 68:29 mins
Joyce DiDonato’s formidable powers continue to extend far beyond the concert hall. A committed activist who has addressed everything from prison reform to the plight of refugees in her far-reaching projects, DiDonato here turns her attention to humanity’s relationship with nature in an ambitious initiative entitled Eden. This four-year project combines a global recital tour with an interdisciplinary music-nature education and community programme, with this excellent recording as its calling card.
Programmed with depth and imagination, the album explores humankind’s interaction with nature from a range of perspectives, deftly incorporating some four centuries of music. The selection opens with Ives’s shimmering The Unanswered Question, the haunting trumpet line instead rendered by DiDonato herself with affecting clarity and poise. From here, we crisscross through the centuries. It is perhaps no surprise that the various 18th-century works included find DiDonato on especially thrilling form, from the gorgeous tumult she summons in ‘Toglierò le sponde al mare’ from Josef Mysliveček’s Adamo ed Eva to the grace and beauty of Handel’s ‘As with Rosy steps the morn’ from Theodora. Yet DiDonato shines, too, in the more contemporary works; she offers a heartfelt account of Rachel Portman’s cinematic new commission, The First Morning of the World, and finds delicate pathos in ‘Nature, the gentlest mother’ from Copland’s Eight Poems of Emily Dickinson. Also featuring the outstanding period ensemble Il Pomo d’Oro (who sound just as at home with Mahler as with Marini), this is a highly commendable recording that commands serious attention for both its music and its message.