Art nouveau – Songs by Strauss, Zemlinsky, Ravel, Respighi – Teodora Gheorghiu, Jonathan Aner (2013) [Official Digital Download 24bit/88,2kHz]
Art nouveau – Songs by Strauss, Zemlinsky, Ravel, Respighi – Teodora Gheorghiu, Jonathan Aner (2013)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/88.2 kHz | Time – 59:18 minutes | 777 MB
Official Digital Download – Source: eClassical | Cover
Beauty, Myth, Dream. Young women dressed loosely wrapped in soft tissue and fluids covered flowers and arabesques, this is what you can see on the posters of Alfons Mucha, whose cover evokes the style. The staging of beauty, the removal of a realistic representation, the stylization of man and nature in a sensual aesthetic ideal is typical of this time of the turn of the 20th century and is reflected in the art in all areas. Vienna, Paris and Munich centers are a current pictorial and literary evolving towards art pour l’art.
This is what tells the new disc and the booklet of the new expanded recording of Teodora Gheorghiu, undoubtedly one of the greatest sopranos of her generation.
No, she’s not Angela’s sister, cousin, or secret daughter, although being called Gheorghiu can’t have hurt a young singer’s lonely path of rejections, rigged auditions, and raised hopes. There’s even a nice photo of both singers hugging on Teodora’s website. Teodora Gheorghiu is a rising name in major European opera houses, like Vienna and Geneva, and she crops up in Naïve’s Vivaldi series. Discovered by José Carreras, she gained some attention with her intriguing first album of music written for Anna de Amicis, and with this second album, she seems still keen not to flood the market with yet more Puccini arias. Although darkish in timbre, hers is a very different lyric soprano to Angela’s, with less covering and with a pleasing Slavic edge to the sound. The latter could become strident if she is not careful, but here it is a delight, compared to the watery, neither-here-nor-there sopranos that colleges are churning out. More than once in this enterprising multilingual album, her detailed, lively approach reminded me of the versatile Sicilian soprano Nuccia Focile, and for me compliments don’t come higher.
This program is a pan-European take on Art Nouveau, with four contemporary but seemingly disparate composers. The Strauss items are familiar enough. We start with his early set, Mädchenblumen , where the florid, sensual texts are tastefully handled, with that clean, refreshing tone of hers keeping any sugariness at bay. I have heard more involved accounts of the later Ophelia songs, but it is hard not to admire Gheorghiu’s taste and refusal to overplay these “mini operas.” Although steeped in a similar romanticism, the lovely set of Zemlinsky songs brings out the best in this young singer, her simple, direct approach being ideal for what are essentially sophisticatedly written arrangements of Tuscan folk texts. Although an early work, there are clear hallmarks of what Zemlinsky’s romantically developed Modernism would become.
We step back a bit, tonally, into Ravel’s Five Popular Greek Melodies, sensually done and providing a good introduction to the four single Ravel songs that follow. Her Rêves is poised and sincere, but the florid and dramatic Tripatos takes Gheorghiu’s voice to its limit, with the runs not bang on. Her strengths lie in the more smoothly poised songs like the Ballade de la reine morte d’aimer . The early Respighi cycle Dieta silvane is a light but utterly delightful discovery, with the texts of his artist/contemporary, Antonio Rubino, depicting a very modern take on classical imagery such as fauns and Pan. The final song, Crepuscolo (Twilight), is as fine a lament as any for the Art Nouveau movement in general.
Gheorghiu’s Italian and French are excellent; in fact she is convincing in all three languages, although I would like her German diction to be placed more forward vocally, as that gets cloudy. Perhaps Gheorghiu missed a trick by not visiting Spain on this European journey of early 20th-century song writing, as there is just enough room for some Falla items, for instance. Jonathan Aner’s playing is superb throughout, never cloying in the Ravel, nor overbearing in the Strauss songs. The Respighi, though, is what makes this album extremely valuable. Aparte is spending money on her with a lavish presentation and booklet, which contains not only full texts and translations but also biographies and an interview. Sound is excellent, airy but focused. We vocal collectors end up with hundreds of pleasing but same-y recital programs, so it is nice to see this singer stick out for mainly the right reasons. –Barnaby Rayfield, Fanfare
No, not Angela Gheorghiu. This is her Romanian compatriot Teodora, who launched her musical career as a flautist, became a company principal at the Vienna State Opera and in 2011 released a well-received disc dedicated to the soprano Anna De Amicis (2/12).
There are times at the start of this new disc when it is debatable that her light soprano is equally suited to the heavier demands of something such as Strauss’s ‘Wasserrose’ from the Mädchenblumen, Op 22. But then, even in that song, with Jonathan Aner supplying a shimmering soundscape in the piano accompaniment, one warms to Gheorghiu’s interpretative personality. When it comes to the playful ‘Guten Morgen, ’s ist Sankt Valentinstag’ from Strauss’s Drei Lieder der Ophelia, Op 67, or the lilting ‘Fensterlein, nachts bist du zu’ from Zemlinsky’s Walzer-Gesänge, Op 6, Gheorghiu is thoroughly in her element. She can certainly soar gloriously to the vocal stratosphere, but the tenderness of expression in Zemlinsky’s ‘Blaues Sternlein’ from the same waltz set reveals a poignantly sensitive streak to Gheorghiu’s singing as well. As the programme courses through Ravel’s Cinq Mélodies populaires grecques, a Ravel group and then Respighi’s ‘Deità silvane’, Gheorghiu’s ability to discern and convey the appropriate vocal style and to encapsulate the essence of a song is matched by her appealing timbre and sense of drama to strike home winningly. –Geoffrey–Norris, Gramophone.
Richard Strauss – Mädchenblumen Op. 22
01 I. Kornblumen 01:48
02 II. Mohnblumen 01:41
03 III. Epheu 02:55
04 IV. Wasserrose 03:20
Richard Strauss – Drei Lieder der Ophelia Op. 67 No. 1-3
05 I. Wie erkenn ich mein Treulieb vor andern nun? 02:58
06 II. Guten Morgen’s ist SanktValentinstag 01:24
07 III. Sie trugen ihn auf der Bahre bloß 03:40
Walzer-Gesänge nach toskanischen Volksliedern von Ferdinand Gregorovius Op.6
08 I. Liebe Schwalbe 01:31 $ 0.41 USD
09 II. Klagen ist der Mond gekommen 01:24
10 III. Fensterlein, nachts bist du zu 01:05
11 IV. Ich geh’ des Nachts 00:59
12 V. Blaues Sternlein 01:52
13 VI. Briefchen schrieb ich 01:00
Maurice Ravel – Cinq mélodies populiares grecques
14 I. Le Réveil de la Mariée 01:29
15 II. Là-bas, vers l’église 01:48
16 III. Quel galant m’est comparable 00:58
17 IV. Chanson des cueilleuses de lentisques 02:41
18 V. Tout gai! 00:54
19 Ballade de la reine morte d’aimer 04:30
20 Rêves 01:29
21 Manteau de fleurs 03:39
22 Tripatos (Danse chantée) 01:43
Ottorino Respighi – Deità silvane
23 I. I Fauni 02:00
24 II. Musica in horto 02:01
25 III. Egle 03:19
26 IV. Acqua 03:20
27 V. Crepuscolo 03:50
Teodora Gheorghiu, soprano
Jonathan Aner, piano