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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars True greatness! Fink's debut solo recital, 4 July 2002
This review is from: Frauenliebe Und Leben Op. 42 (Fink, Vignoles) (Audio CD)
Bernarda Fink is a rare phenomenon on the current musical scene.
Nobody ever called her "a hot property of classical music", she was
never "the real thing", "singing sensation" or "the new darling of
the industry" - and thank God for that. She maintained a low profile
through many years of a very distinguished career and became a real
favorite with connoisseurs. I wouldn't hesitate to call her a golden
age singer and there are only very, very few who deserve this title
today. In a way, it is refreshing to see that the classical music
industry didn't get hold of her and of a few other magnificent
singers (Isokoski, Podles, Karneus to give examples of female singers
only, for here the industry is at its most damaging); on the other
hand it inspires a bitter reflection: where is the industry going?
what is wrong with these exquisite artists that it takes so long for
big record companies to record them, but it is enough for pretty but
inexperienced young singers just to turn up and get exclusive
contracts with the giants? It is just beyond my comprehension why we
are to get excited about singers in the making, about whom most of
what can be said now is the promise of "great things to come" (as
critics and record companies' PRs stubbornly try to convince us with
the usual exaggeration) while so much is going on right now and from
singers who are in their prime. And in Fink's case what a prime it
is! It's true that she certainly hasn't been neglected by record
companies (she has an impressive collection of recordings to her
name, most of which can be called events, often thanks to her
contribution alone) but it is surprising that she has had to wait so
many years to produce her first solo recital. Happily things are
changing now and her collaboration with Hyperion brings another solo
disc, an album of Argentinian songs, which should be an event too.
As for the present disc, it contains the most wonderful Lieder
recital I've heard in years. It comes from a mature and experienced
singer, which is a blessing after a series of recent recitals
recorded by singers much too young (Lieder singing became a kind of
fashion, a noble fashion to be sure, but often leaving me in doubt as
to the sincerity of the involvement of some performers). Fink's
artistry is stupendous! She approaches these songs humbly, with an
almost self-effacing modesty and yet with extraordinary
individuality. This is true greatness! The timbre of Fink's unique
voice, with its noble ring, gives this recital a very special flavor.
It is the same quality that makes her singing in oratorio so deeply
touching and her operatic creations truly aristocratic. Yet this
voice can also sound playful - as Fink proved in Mozart's "Cosi fan
tutte" under Rene Jacobs - and it is rewarding to find this playful
side of her singing so well represented on this disc ("Der Sandmann",
for example).
There is little sense in comparing this recital with other recent or
older recordings of Schumann Lieder or even analyzing it song by song
(though I can't help not mentioning the marvellous, breathtakingly
'breathless' "Nachtlied", just to give one example of Fink's
artistry). Fink gives us something unique and very much her own while
still obeying all the rules of Lieder singing. Thanks should go to
Harmonia Mundi, one of the very few record companies who haven't
stopped producing little wonders without much regard for current
marketing trends. My only complaint concerns the packaging, the now
almost ubiquitous digipak. I can't hide my impatience with this new
packaging practice though I have to admit that the quality of HM's
digipaks is far superior to other record companies'. Still, why is
the booklet permanently glued inside the cardboard case, making it
difficult to follow the texts? There is an even more serious problem
with the booklet that makes it quite useless for following the texts:
it contains misprints, inexcusable errors and omissions, so those who
don't know the poems by heart or don't read German should use some
other printed source. Happily Fink's crystalline diction makes the
texts beautifully clear for those who choose just to listen to her.
Still, it's a shame that this wonderful disc is accompanied by such a
messy booklet, but this is not the first nor the last victim of
sloppy editing. And all this in the age of computers that were
supposed to make our lives easier and better... If anything makes our
lives better, if not necessarily easier, it is a recital like this
one. In a flood of mediocrity, miracles still happen... (Kicek)
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