Songs by Brahms, Debussy, Fauré, Hahn, Howells, Poulenc, Schubert, R Schumann etc
Madison Nonoa (soprano), Martha Jones, Angharad Lyddon (mezzo-soprano), Laurence Kilsby (tenor), Dominic Sedgwick, Alex Otterburn (baritone), Malcolm Martineau (piano)
Stone Records 5060192781076 63:09 mins
This recital emerges from the ‘Momentum’ initiative, an idea devised in lockdown by Barbara Hannigan in which established artists support emerging musical talent. Here, pianist Malcolm Martineau joins six young singers in a recital of favourites.
We start energetically with Schubert’s jolly ‘Fischerweise’, though in a performance too swift to appreciate the wise fisherman’s contentment. Soprano Madison Nonoa sounds lovely if a little studied in ‘Im Frühling’. Tenor Laurence Kilsby sounds startlingly bright and extrovert in Robert Schumann’s yearning ‘Mein schöner Stern’, while baritone Dominic Sedgwick depicts a surprisingly robust Aeolian harp in Brahms’s ‘An eine Aeolsharfe’.
The exuberant songs work far better. Mezzo-soprano Martha Jones is charming in ‘Aufträge’ and exceptional in Debussy’s ‘La flûte de Pan’, Kilsby fun in Poulenc’s ‘Fêtes galantes’. Mezzo-soprano Angharad Lyddon can sound a little heavy, but her rich timbre glows in Meirion Williams’s memorable, late-Romantic ‘Gwynfyd’.
English songs inspire greater depth and variety. Jones again impresses with her imagination and vulnerability in Britten’s arrangement of ‘Early one Morning’ and Howells’s ‘King David’. Rachmaninov’s luscious ‘In the Silent Night’ sung by baritone Alex Otterburn feels a touch stranded after Britten’s austere arrangements.
The singers seem to inhabit the languages like slightly stiff new clothes, looking marvellous but not entirely at ease with the need for subtlety and vulnerability that characterises several of these songs. Martineau at the piano, though, is completely at home in this series of crowd-pleasers, his fingers alternately flying over and caressing the keys with consummate grace and imagination.