Schumann, Wolf, Franck, Chausson, Fauré, Chabrier, Stanford, Haydn Wood, John Musto

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5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Chabrier,Chausson,Faure,Franck,Haydn Wood,John Musto,Schumann,Stanford,Wolf
LABELS: Hyperion
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: My Garden
WORKS: Mein Garten; Roses of Picardy
PERFORMER: Felicity Lott (soprano), Graham Johnson (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CDA 66937

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The scent of violets and rosemary really does seem to rise from Graham Johnson’s opening chords to meet the melancholy within Felicity Lott’s voice in Schumann’s ‘Mein Garten’, the first song of this horticultural recital. As Richard Stokes, in his apt and anecdotal notes points out, the word ‘anthology’ originally meant a collection of flowers; and these are of the freshest. The disc’s naming and its country-cottage cover should not mislead: although one may indeed be nearer God’s heart here than almost anywhere else on earth, there is not a moment which is over-familiar, over-scented or coy. Lott and Johnson move from the fragile joy of Schumann’s garden to the heady ecstasy of Hugo Wolf and Mörike, on to an exquisite performance of Chausson’s ‘Le temps des lilas’, and are properly ruddy-cheeked for the fresh meadow flowers of Chabrier. Best of all, perhaps, they are unembarrassed by the wide-eyed innocence of sentiment in songs like Stanford’s ‘From the red rose’ and Wood’s ‘Roses of Picardy’ which they approach with simplicity and directness, qualities which they carry through into John Musto’s irresistible ‘Triolet’ and, finally, the old cockney music hall song, ‘Cabbages, Cabeans and Carrots’.

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Hilary Finch