PERFORMER: Barbara Bonney (soprano)Geoffrey Parsons (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 4509-90873-2 DDD
Barbara Bonney’s delightful recital of popular Schubert songs – ‘Ave Maria’, ‘The Trout’, ‘The Shepherd on the Rock’ are all here, as well as the less obvious Mignon-Lieder – may run the risk of seeming saccharine, particularly given the familiarity of the repertory and the distinctive sweetness and crystalline brightness of her voice. But she and her accompanist Geoffrey Parsons give performances of such impeccable artistry that the result is a joy and would make an excellent introduction to Schubert’s body of songs for anyone new to them.
Bonney sings with a delicacy verging on fragility (though she never falters) that renders the yearning of a piece such as ‘Du bist die Ruh’ almost unbearably intense. But if Bonney’s performance is immaculate, equal credit is due to Parsons’s sublimely sensitive contribution – particularly on the tragic ‘Gretchen am Spinnrade’: the hesitating way in which the spinning-wheel motif is reintroduced after the song’s emotional climax is heart-rending – proving once again that he is a collaborator of genius.
Hans Peter Blochwitz’s recital of other well-known lieder is also fine in its way – he has an attractive well-modulated tenor and sings with commitment and some charm – but when compared with the Bonney collection, it sounds workmanlike rather than special, and Rudolf Jansen’s accompaniment is inclined to be irritatingly deliberate. Claire Wrathall