ALBUM TITLE: Collection: When Night Falls
WORKS: Songs by Schubert, Brahms, Falla, Montsalvatge, Canteloube, Copland, Sondheim,
PERFORMER: Angelika Kirchschlager (mezzo-soprano), John Williams (guitar), Yuri Bashmet (viola), Helmut Deutsch (piano), Roger Vignoles (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: SK 61768
The story goes that Sony had to twist Angelika Kirchschlager’s arm pretty hard to persuade her to record this compilation: after all, she has hitherto been known for rather more rigorous programming both in live recital and on disc. With pictures of herself and her baby enfolded in a bath towel, the packaging may be soft-focus, but Kirchschlager proves herself no soft touch.
She takes it all seriously enough to use a Welsh, Provencal and Portuguese language coach where necessary; and to include songs which go darker and deeper than the (itals)Wiegenlieder(end itals) of Schubert and Brahms which frame this recital. For here, too, is Brahms’s ‘Gestille Sehnsucht’, revealing the shadowy yearnings of the distinctly adult soul; and Weber’s ‘Lass mich schlummern’, its latent agitation trembling through John Williams’s guitar accompaniment.
The breadth of idiom within this ostensibly single-mood recital is matched by the variety of accompaniment: as well as Williams’s guitar, Yuri Bashmet’s viola puts in an appearance for Brahms, and Roger Vignoles joins the chamber-musical soloists who accompany Haydn’s arrangement of ‘Ar hyd y nos’. Kirchschlager’s kid-gloves Welsh is as nicely attuned to Haydn’s prettification of the folksong as her English is to lullabies by Menotti and Copland, and to the surprising re-invention of ‘Edelweiss’ as folksong manque. Hilary Finch