Debussy, Delibes, Canteloube, Ravel, Stravinsky, Orff, R Strauss, Granados and Rodrigo

COMPOSERS: Canteloube,Debussy,Delibes,Granados and Rodrigo,Orff,R Strauss,Ravel,Stravinsky
LABELS: EMI
ALBUM TITLE: Kate Royal
WORKS: Songs and arias by Debussy, Delibes, Canteloube, Ravel, Stravinsky, Orff, R Strauss, Granados and Rodrigo

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PERFORMER: Kate Royal (soprano); Academy of St Martin in the Fields/Edward Gardner

CATALOGUE NO: 394 4192
This CD represents something of a triumph not for one young artist but for two. ENO’s new music director, Edward Gardner, conducts the accompaniments, with the Academy of St Martin’s on fine form. But he’s unusually perceptive, looking out for everything of interest in the harmonies and textures to bring out, and he misses nothing.

Kate Royal matches him precisely. Each item is beautifully vocalised, but she too is alert to detail. In the Ravel Vocalise en forme de habanera, she finesses her tone and colour and even her pitch to give us the sensual, Spanish, hot-summer-afternoon feel of the piece. In Delibes’s Les filles de Cadix, her trills are a delight, but so is the immediacy of her response to the rhythms. The famous Canteloube ‘Baïlèro’ – so often just an excuse to float beautiful tone, if you have it – is much more specific here, both in terms of text and notes. She finds plenty of meaning, too, in Anne Trulove’s aria from The Rake’s Progress and in the attractive Rodrigo madrigals.

The collection’s only fault is

a preponderance of slow items around the halfway mark, where some faster music is needed purely

for contrast. Everything else here

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is absolutely top quality.