Ives; Bernstein; Moore; Griffes; Beach

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Ives; Bernstein; Moore; Griffes; Beach
WORKS: Various songs
PERFORMER: Deborah Voigt (soprano); Brian Zeger (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 557 9642
This is a promisingly unhackneyed American selection, opening with a well-varied Ives group, followed by three Bernstein songs including the touching Greeting on the birth of his son (which later went into Arias and Barcarolles), and ending with rarities by the Impressionist Charles Griffes and the late-Romantic Amy Beach. Disappointing, though, are Ben Moore’s songs, including settings of three from James Joyce’s Chamber Music: these have very singable melodies, but are unimaginatively four-square in phrasing and unadventurous in harmony.


For all her operatic prowess, Deborah Voigt fails to do much to bring this programme alive. The tone is virtually unvaried with a slightly fluttery vibrato, the handful of moments where the full power of the voice is unleashed aren’t balanced by corresponding moments of pianissimo intimacy, and while the words are always clear there’s very little feeling that their sound and sense are being used to shape and colour the phrases. (Beach’s Robert Browning settings offer a telling comparison with the much less full-voiced but more imaginative Emma Kirkby on BIS.) With Brian Zegler’s supportive but sometimes heavy-handed piano playing and a somewhat closed-in recording, this is altogether rather a disappointment. Anthony Burton