This Be Her Verse
Songs by N Boulanger, R Clarke, E Mayer, C Schumann and Kathleen Tagg
Golda Schultz (soprano), Jonathan Ware (piano)
Alpha Classics ALPHA 799 58:46 mins
The classical music industry still all-too-often pays only lip service to the idea of centring women’s creative voices, but This Be Her Verse is the real deal. Here’s a thoughtful celebration of songs by women, performed with flair and imagination by stellar South African soprano Golda Schultz and outstanding pianist Jonathan Ware.
In the opening four songs by Clara Schumann, Schultz brings a marvellous sense of warmth and wonder. An alternative version of Erlkönig by little-known 19th-century composer Emilie Mayer thrums with every bit as much heart-thumping drama as Schubert’s famous setting, and finds Ware on especially fine form during the twinkling passages accompanying the ‘voice’ of the Erlking himself. A handful of powerful songs by Rebecca Clarke includes a truly ferocious setting of ‘The Tiger’, while Schultz seems especially at home with Nadia Boulanger’s luminous works.
Composer Kathleen Tagg and poet Lila Parmer’s vibrant This Be Her Verse provides a welcome contemporary account of female experience. Commissioned by the performers themselves, the cycle riffs on Philip Larkin’s famous poem and fizzes with black humour and percussive energy, and Schultz’s voice by turns soars and stings.
A pity there’s no real musicological detail in the album’s booklet. For such a skilfully compiled set of repertoire, it is a shame not to have more information about individual works. However, in every other respect This Be Her Verse is an outstanding album: expertly programmed and performed with terrific verve.