on 2 June 2007
This is a wonderful document of a truly outstanding singer. It is the complete programme of a concert which Lorraine Hunt gave at the Wigmore Hall London in 1998, accompanied only by Roger Vignoles' piano. In this intimate setting, the natural expressiveness of her voice in these deeply felt performances becomes almost overwhelming. If you know her only as a fine operatic singer, this lieder recital is a must, and a moving reminder of what we have lost.
It took me a while to "get" this lovely voice, whose warmth and vibrancy is of a subtler kind than the richer, more refulgent tones of mezzos such as Janet Baker but after I had fallen in love with Lorraine Hunt Lieberson's live Berlioz recital from Berkeley (see my review) I returned to other discs such as this live Wigmore Hall debut recording from 1998. The voice is utterly even throughout its range, plangent and malleable with a peculiarly immediate quality common to great voices that makes you forget technique and concentrate upon the emotions being expressed. The blandness I sometimes associate with lighter mezzos such as Anna Sophie von Otter is entirely absent and she often reminds me of the late, great American singer Tatiana Troyanos.
The programme here was judiciously selected and at its heart is the Mahler song cycle. The ever-sensitive Roger Vignole's provides nuanced and dynamically shaded accompaniment of such distinction as almost to make one forget the orchestral versions and it is certain a welcome novelty to hear these smaller-scale accounts, so intimate and immediate. I have little time for the Lieberson songs and skip them but they are there to provide modernity and variety for those who appreciate them. The Handel arias are simply gorgeous: searing and poignant, exquisitely sung with ringing top notes and proper trills. The gem of the recital for me is the dignified and soulful version of "Deep River" - and the reason why I bought this in the first place, having heard a snippet. The sound is excellent, the audience very quiet. A beautiful disc.
on 9 February 2007
This recording of Lieberson comes within a year of her untimley death, although it was recorded way back at the Wigmore Hall in 1998. Knowing it's live brings an immediacy not apparent even in her great Bach and Handel discs. The knowledgeable audience knows its singers and her performance of the Mahler Ruckert Lieder (with piano accompaniment rather than the more usual orchestral support) is the greatest I've encountered - intimate, moving and utterly involving. Like all great singers she's better when she sings quietly. This is a unique recording of a great artist who died just as her star was at its zenith - the Kathleen Ferrier of our time.