I am a newcomer to Yvonne Kenny's singing. Her performance at the Olympic Games in Sydney (at which she sang the Olympic Hymn) certainly left an impression on me. I was struck by the richness of voice, and this recital disk shows that quality off to great effect.
At this point in her career, Kenny's voice is not flashy; there are no coloratura fireworks or even high C's. What there is however, is someone who sings with clarity, charm, and ultimately with beauty. Kenny, like a great actor with the words, lets the music do the "talking" and proves an elegant and impassioned conduit for the composer whose work she is interpreting.
Hers is a mature voice, an intelligent voice perfect for Mozart and Strauss, the former of whom is represented here. On the disk she excels in the arias by Mozart, Purcell, and Handel. She also dispaches with class the songs of Gilbert/Sullivan and Cole Porter (in truly disarming fashion in the latter case). There is a elegance to her singing that is rare, but she does not sacrifice passion or committment. She comes across as a consumate musician above all.
On the technical side of things: Her diction is pristine. Enough said. She has one of the most beautiful middle registers of any soprano active today, and her vibrato is fresh and lively without being obtrusive. To be picky, the upper register can sound the tiniest bit forced. Yet taken into consideration with the rest of her efforts, this is a minor quibble which seems silly when I think of Kenny's deft negotiating of Handel's ornamentation or her solid trill throughout the disk.
Outstanding contributions also come from tenor Barry Banks in duets from "The Pear Fishers" and "Linda di Chamonix" (where he really shines) and mezzo Della Jones in a duet from "Semiramide".
This is one of the most satisfying recital disks I have ever heard, and I recommend it for anyone who is a fan of a simply beautiful voice.