If the Owl Calls Again

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Caplet and Bridge,Delage,Kanter,Martin,Marx,Musorgsky,Ravel
LABELS: Warner Classics
ALBUM TITLE: If the Owl Calls Again
WORKS: Songs by Marx, Musorgsky, Kanter, Delage, Ravel, Martin, Caplet and Bridge
PERFORMER: Christianne Stotijn (mezzo), Joseph Breinl (piano), Rick Stotijn (double bass), Antoine Tamestit (viola); Oxalys
CATALOGUE NO: 5054196393755

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Songs of the night, of the forest, of love and of prayer thread through Christianne Stotijn’s recital. This is a model of imaginative, scholarly programming, with music stretching from the mordent opulence of Joseph Marx’s Durch Einsamkeiten to the abrasive wit of Fant de Kanter’s Abboen, Onbot and Arapka. Viola player Antoine Tamestit joins Stotijn and pianist Joseph Breinl in Durch Einsamkeiten and Frank Bridge’s Three Songs, his sound sweet and pure, and delivers edgy, thorny figures in Onbot. Double-bassist Rick Stotijn guests in Arapka (a punchy, primitive dance with cat-like glissandos) and makes his instrument swoon like a cello in Marx’s Adagio.

Flautist Toon Fret sparkles in Frank Martin’s Trois chants de Noël and Caplet’s Ecoute mon coeur, while ensemble Oxalys shimmers languidly in Maurice Delage’s Quatre poèmes hindous. Oliver Boekhoorn adds a keening duduk to Ravel’s Kaddish, which Stotijn sings with simmering fury. The range of languages is impressive: French, German, Russian, English, Dutch, Yiddish, Hebrew. It is in all but one respect a triumph, that one respect being Stotijn’s voice, its distinctive silvery patina now sounding forced at full volume and papery at pianissimo. She’s an expressive and attentive singer – at her best in the Musorgsky songs – but it is worrying to hear weariness in a voice that is still young.

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Anna Picard