JS Bach, Mozart

COMPOSERS: JS Bach,Mozart
LABELS: EMI
ALBUM TITLE: JS Bach , Mozart
WORKS: JS Bach: Cantata BWV 202, 32 (excerpt) & 151 (excerpt); St Matthew Passion (excerpts); Mozart: Arias from Zaïde, The Magic Flute & Don Giovanni
PERFORMER: Hyunah Yu (soprano); Prague Philharmonia/Shuntaro Sato
CATALOGUE NO: 368 2552
This disc marks the 10th anniversary of EMI’s debut series, an invaluable service to promising young musicians. Hyunah Yu made her New York debut in 2004 at Carnegie Hall. She has some very appealing qualities, including a clear and focused tone in quiet legato singing; the opening of Bach’s ‘Wedding’ Cantata ‘Weichet nur’ is beautifully managed by both her and the solo oboist, while her high pianissimo in ‘Ach, ich fuhl’s’ from The Magic Flute is equally a magical moment. She is impressive, too, in the most impassioned aria here, Mozart’s ‘Tiger!’, the infuriated Zaide cursing the Sultan with a final ferocious repetition of the opening word.

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Elsewhere, tenseness creeps in, with a vibrato breaking up the legato of ‘Trostlos schluchzet’, (Zaïde). Rather merciless recording doesn’t help, bringing out every moment of tension, while modern high pitch makes her Bach selection just that much less easy to pull off. The strange mixture, Bach and Mozart, sacred and secular, is explained partly by her heart-felt programme note – her first engagement was with the St Matthew Passion – and her recent success in Peter Sellar’s 2006 production of Zaïde.

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There are charming moments in this debut disc – and great promise for the future. George Pratt