Gershwin, Barber, Elgar, Fauré, Schubert, Berlioz, Arne, Brahms, Lehmann, Delius, Head, Vaughan Williams, Bridge, Ireland, Quilter, Haydn Wood, Warlock, Rutter, Bernstein, etc

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Arne; Barber; Berlioz; Bernstein; Brahms; Bridge; Delius; Elgar; Faure; Gershwin; Haydn Wood; Head; Ireland; Lehmann; Quilter; Rutter; Schubert; Vaughan Williams; Warlock
LABELS: Black Box
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Summertime
WORKS: Songs
PERFORMER: Felicity Lott (soprano), Graham Johnson (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: iClassics BBM 3007

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Thanks to Felicity Lott and Graham Johnson, the no-sun, no-moon days of November are illuminated by a recital which follows Apollo’s progress from the dawning of a Berlioz ‘Villanelle’ through to the warm, dusky twilights of Fauré. Three centuries of song are represented here. But such is the skill of Johnson’s programming that the entire recital seems to be a single, sustained exhalation of rapture and reflection. The upper reaches of Lott’s still gleaming soprano inhabit Barber’s ‘Shining Night’ and Fauré’s ‘Clair de lune’. And her robust English version of Schubert’s ‘Who is Sylvia?’ finds an irresistible companion in Arne’s ‘Where the Bee Sucks’, with its veritable midsummer night’s dream of an accompaniment from Johnson. The artists’ palpable sense of joy and well-being gathers momentum as they visit Berlioz’s ‘L’île inconnue’ and as they sing on the water with Schubert. After the heady air of Brahms’s lilac and Faure’s starlit nights, a watercolour pastoralism is evoked in a levitating performance of Bridge’s ‘Go not, happy day’ and in a wonder-filled, unaccompanied ‘Lark in the Clear Air’. And Lott and Johnson know well that the only way to face sentiment is to acknowledge its own integrity, as they do when they listen to Haydn Wood’s ‘Little Brown Bird’ and eavesdrop with Fraser-Simson on Christopher Robin saying his prayers. Song texts are, alas, only available if one puts the CD into a computer and accesses the Black Box web site. And did Schubert really write ‘Der Nussbaum’?!

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Hilary Finch