Diana Damrau: Arie di bravura

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Brahms,C and R Schumann,Chopin and Liszt. Arias by Salieri,Fanny and Felix Mendelssohn,Righini and Mozart
LABELS: Orfeo.Virgin
WORKS: Lieder by C and R Schumann, Fanny and Felix Mendelssohn, Brahms, Chopin and Liszt. Arias by Salieri, Righini and Mozart
PERFORMER: Diana Damrau (soprano), Helmut Deutsch (piano).Diana Damrau (soprano); Le Cercle de l’Harmonie/Jérémie Rhorer
CATALOGUE NO: Orfeo C 749 071 A.Virgin 395 2502

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The rapt concentration and sheer delight of the audience at the Schwarzenberg Schubertiade of 2006 is palpably felt in Diana Damrau’s ‘Schumanniad’ of a recital.

She was celebrating the 150th anniversary of Schumann in an artfully planned programme of songs by composers most of whom were born within a year of each other: Schumann, Mendelssohn, Chopin, Liszt – with the young Brahms appearing from the wings in a delicately starry ‘Ständchen’, and in three intimate and most sensitively sung folksongs from the Ausgewählte Volkslieder.

From the light-filled spring mornings of Clara Schumann’s ‘Das ist ein Tag’ and ‘Was weinst du, Blümlein’ to seven songs from Robert’s wedding-present to her in his own, Myrthen, Damrau communicates the elusive emotions of wonder, delight and rapture with great warmth, excitement and generosity.

For Mendelssohn, she offers a fast and feisty ‘Hexenlied’;and for Chopin, excellent Polish for his little waltzes-in-song – relished, too, in the ever sympathetic fingers of Helmut Deutsch.

Damrau comes into her own as a coloratura soprano in a disc of Arie di bravura by Salieri, Righini and Mozart.

In her Schwarzenberg recital, she had already shown that she has a rare strength, too, in her chest voice; this gives ballast and substance to the vocal sabre-rattling of her arias from Salieri’s Cublai, gran Khan dei Tartari, and empathises with oboe and bassoon in the shadows within the coloratura sunlight of ‘Ombra dolente’ from Righini’s natal d’Apollo.

Mozart’s Queen of Night is here, too, as subtle and intelligent in recitative and inflection as in stratospheric virtuosity. And Le Cercle de l’Harmonie, directed enthusiastically by Jérémie Rhorer, offers shining, bracing string playing to redeem some of the more formulaic writing of Mozart’s lesser contemporaries – though already Damrau has thrillingly deceived us into feeling that much of 18th-century vocal convention is something entirely fresh and new-minted.

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Decidedly not a disc for just canary-fanciers.