COMPOSERS: Brahms,Hahn,Haydn,Ireland & Britten,Korngold,Weill
ALBUM TITLE: The Exquisite Hour
WORKS: Various songs
PERFORMER: Sarah Connolly (mezzo-soprano), Eugene Asti (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: SIGCD 072
Live from St John’s, Smith Square in London last October, Sarah Connolly presents not only an ‘exquisite hour’ but a full 75 minutes of French and German song, exquisitely articulated and accompanied, and here with the newest of new song-text translations from Richard Stokes.
Connolly woos her audience with the calling-card for any and every mezzo: Haydn’s dramatic cantata, Arianna a Naxos. And every second of its nervous and emotional life – its hopes, fears and final despair – are uncovered in Connolly’s superbly observant voice and imagination.
For Brahms, Connolly and Eugene Asti capture both the tenderly elusive ardour of the folksong, and the finely nuanced legato of those shadowy songs which hover between dream and waking reality. Here, Connolly holds back the words, weighing and weighting them to free the fierce inner passion of a song like ‘Von ewiger Liebe’. Her ‘exquisite hour’ is Verlaine’s and Reynaldo Hahn’s –
and Connolly responds tellingly to this composer’s uniquely sweet-scented archaism.
Korngold and Weill receive a delicious sprinkling of stardust as both singer and pianist relax into cabaret mode, and every word is cherished and most poignantly projected. Connolly concludes her recital with two delightfully unpredictable encores by Ireland
and Britten. Her final Tit for Tat becomes a heartfelt and dark questioning of what is, and what’s not, true sportsmanship. Hilary Finch