LABELS: BBC Legends
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Lucia Popp
PERFORMER: Lucia Popp (soprano) Geoffrey Parsons, Irwin Gage (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: BBCL 4025-2 ADD/DDD
The much loved Czech-born soprano died in 1993, just two years after the second of the two recitals from which extracts are heard here. Accompanied by Irwin Gage, who in his playing combines delicacy with an almost orchestral range of colours, this is the finer selection, partly because in its emotional complexity the late 19th- and early 20th-century repertoire seems to suit Popp’s voice so precisely. Yet she conveys the innocent starting-point from which the Mahler settings develop with absolute conviction, while among the Strauss group the well-known ‘Morgen!’ is given a particularly rapt interpretation. Equally notable are the three Dvorák items, where her identification with the distinctive and highly attractive material is complete.
The earlier sequence (from 1982) is hampered slightly by the more earthbound playing of Geoffrey Parsons, but Popp’s singing is as ever imbued with life and an infallible sense of phrase and rhythm. An unusual Schubert set is particularly lovely, and all the Mozart good, though it might be worth pointing out that the first of them, ‘Ridente la calma’, is no longer considered to be his work in scholarly circles. George Hall