PERFORMER: Barbara Bonney (soprano), Geoffrey Parsons (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 2292 44946-2 DDD
These are settings – mainly strophic – of texts written by Mendelssohn’s friends Klingemann and Droysen and poets, Heine, Geibel, Uhland, Eichendorff and Goethe. Three of the songs were composed by Mendelssohn’s sister Fanny and published under his name in his early Op. 9 of 1830. The sensuous bloom of Barbara Bonney’s voice, aligned with the inestimable gift for empathetic accompaniment of Geoffrey Parsons, form an ideal partnership for this delightful repertoire. From the most famous Mendelssohn art-song ‘Auf Flügeln des Gesanges’, through Fanny’s poignant settings – particularly ‘Die Nonne’ – to Goethe’s ‘Erster Verlust’, Bonney delivers a fluid vocal line of sweetness and warmth. Extra colour and contrast are noticeable in a handful of songs which one senses Bonney uses at various recitals as her ‘Mendelssohn group’.
The ‘Suleika’ settings are inexplicably pressed on this disc in the reverse order ‘Ferne’, ‘Der Blumenstrauss’ and ‘Bei der Wiege’ are among the most tellingly phrased, with expressive rubati.
Two nagging reservations remain about Bonney’s vocal technique: her tendency to under-anticipate the time needed to breathe, which results in awkward sharp intakes of breath, and a worrying unease above the stave. Nonetheless, definitely recommended listening. Elisse McDougall