Arias and Songs by Adam, Britten, Dvoˇrák, Grieg, Massenet, Mendelssohn, Monteverdi, Offenbach, Purcell and Verdi
Regula Mühlemann (soprano); CHAARTS Chamber Artists
Sony Classical G0100047154583 68:48 mins
Previous discs by the Austrian soprano, including two Mozart collections, have been of exceptional quality, but sadly this latest release doesn’t match them. The theme is fairy tales, with a succession of arias and songs featuring characters such as Dvořák’s Rusalka, or La Fée in Massenet’s Cendrillon – though quite how Solveig in Ibsen’s Peer Gynt qualifies is anyone’s guess.
Extraordinary, also, that the tracks should include three purely orchestral movements from Grieg’s incidental music; it’s as if ideas for genuinely thematically related sung items ran out. Odd, too, is the decision to use by way of accompaniment the 11-piece CHAARTS Chamber Artists. Wolfgang Renz’s arrangements for the ensemble have been nicely done, but a substantial orchestral complement would have been a better bet.
Mühlemann’s singing, nevertheless, often has good points. The Cendrillon aria suits her talents closely, with her ethereal tone and confident coloratura skills. There’s some real magic here. Mendelssohn’s fairy-song ‘Neue Liebe’ has just the right hint of menace – and here the arrangement is particularly good. Other items – including the Barcarolle from Offenbach’s Die Rheinnixen (better known from its use in The Tales of Hoffmann), or Nannetta’s aria from Falstaff – are perfectly good without being in any way special.