The recital to launch Hymne a l’Amour was originally reviewed for artsHub by Suzanne Yanko, who was so impressed she purchased her own copy of the CD. This review for Sounds Classic and Classic Melbourne is based on many happy hours listening to it.
A recital of art songs by soprano Siobhan Stagg and pianist Amir Farid served to introduce their CD of the same name. More a sensual, rich celebration of love than a hymn, the CD –- offers a well-paced and varied program that deserves listening to right through as if it were a concert.
Featuring a young singer who already has a number of awards and favourable reviews to her credit, and one of the most sensitive accompanists you could hope for, Hymne a l’amour could hardly be anything but a success, and so it proved. Farid has enjoyed success as a soloist and also as a member of the superb Benaud Trio, while Stagg joins the Deutsche Oper Berlin as a young artist for the 2013/14 season.
The opening item, Delibes’ Les Filles de Cadix, put one in mind of Carmen (as did the singer’s choice for the recital, a becoming red strapless dress). The song was a good choice for her lovely rich voice, with trills and high notes confidently managed. Schubert’s Du bist die Ruh (You are repose) which follows, shows the gentle empathy between artists in a familiar work.
Stagg describes art song as a match of text and music, and that is particularly demonstrated in Liszt’s Oh! Quand je dor (O when I sleep) by Franz Liszt, and in the two songs by Duparc that follow it on the disc. As well as being perfect vehicles for Stagg’s lovely voice, these works also give Farid the opportunity to demonstrate his sensitivity and empathetic support of the singer.
Interest is added by a contemporary work by Australian composer Dermot Tutty, the first recording his O Where is the Dove? The work is reminiscent of a Grieg nocturne, with phrasing a highlight of both performers’ interpretation. Wolf’s Kennst du das Land calls for contrasts, with an operatic sound and dramatic effects, and a memorable high note at the quiet ending.
Bellini and Donizetti represent Italian composers with contrasting works, the soprano tossing off La Zingara with ease as Farid meets his own challenges. But to my mind the highlight of this recording is Zueignung by Richard Strauss. Less than two minutes long, it gives Stagg’s voice the chance to soar, while Farid matches the dynamics and mood perfectly, with a well-judged crescendo at the end. Simply a gem.
After two English songs and Ravel’s beautifully realised Kaddisch comes the song that gives the CD its title: Hymne a l’amour by Marguerite Monnot, as interpreted by Edith Piaf. Both singer and pianist convey the beauty – and nostalgia – of this song, purely, authentically and entirely in harmony with each other.
In that way it sums up the whole recording, while also rounding off a CD that leaves the listener wanting more.
CD Hymne a l’Amour MD 3360 on the Move label