A Lesson in Love

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Copland,Debussy,Duparc,Schubert,Strauss,Wolf
LABELS: EMI
WORKS: Vocal works by Copland, Debussy, Duparc, Schubert, Strauss, Wolf etc
PERFORMER: Malcolm Martineau (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: EMI 948 5362

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Kate Royal’s earlier recital CDs have earned this young British singer fulsome praise. And her skill in programme-building has not deserted her on this new disc in which she follows the path of true love from a young woman’s first emotional stirrings, through ecstatic first love, marriage and then the inevitable disillusion when the man she loved moves on to fresher pastures. A stern lesson.

Royal bookends her lesson in love with William Bolcom’s haunting cabaret song ‘Waitin’ with its bluesy accents, and in between there are Lieder by Schubert, Schumann, Wolf, Brahms and Strauss and, from the other side of the Rhine, Debussy, Fauré and Duparc. Best of all are a pair of Aaron Copland’s songs, Pastorale and a setting of Emily Dickinson’s ‘Heart we will forget him’, both sung immaculately. Royal is on fine form in the Schumann and Schubert Lieder, with Malcolm Martineau at the piano stage-managing the show admirably, as indeed he does throughout.

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The French mélodies are another matter. Duparc’s ‘Extase’ sounds ecstatic – too ecstatic perhaps. The silky legato you need for this kind of mélodie isn’t quite there, a quality that an older generation of British singers, Janet Baker and Felicity Lott for example, unfailingly brought to this repertoire. And to be blunt Royal’s French sounds distinctly English to this pair of ears. Christopher Cook