Various: The Ballad Singer CD
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Œuvres de Beethoven, Loewe, Schubert, Schumann, Brahms, Wolf, Mahler, Stanford, Scott, Sullivan... / Gerald Finley, baryton - Julius Drake, piano
Finley is a fine tale-teller.In Loewe,he sounds as though he's singing just for you,the listener,so rapt and intense in his communication. Performance **** Recording **** --BB Music Magazine,July'11
If i were a reviewer who seems to think that it is mandatory to nominate a CD as outstanding each month i might consider proposing this well-recorded issue. --IRR,June'11
Ballad singers ,at least of the type represented here,havee the toughest of acts to follow in the recorded form of Dietricj Fischer-Dieskau.Gerald Finley's may be less xpolsive in his treatment of words but he makes every single one count,unfolding rich stories in song. **** --Classic fm Magazine,Aug'11
Top customer reviews
This disc features 14 songs, all of which could be termed "ballads" and most of which could be described as narrative songs, often with a touch of Grand Guignol about them. The selection here features songs in German by Beethoven, Loewe, Schubert, Schumann, Brahms, Wolf and Mahler (not a bad line up!) and ones in English by Stanford, Sullivan, Cole Porter, Louis Emanuel (who he?) and, of course, "Traditional". Some will be familiar to most listeners, others probably not. Some are clearly of a higher order than others, but it is often the lesser pieces which afford the most enjoyment. Indeed, in my opinion, two of the most famous pieces, Schubert's "Erlkönig" and Sullivan's "The Lost Chord", are delivered with rather less élan than versions by singers with rather more modest vocal resources on other recordings.
This is, however, a delight from start to finish and the only track whose inclusion I would perhaps question is Cole Porter's "The Tale of the Oyster", fun that though undoubtedly is. "The Desert" by Louis Emanuel is probably the piece of the least artistic merit here, but it is an absolute hoot and made me laugh aloud on first hearing.
While Mr. Finley is undoubtedly the star of the show, plaudits must also be given to the enterprising accompanist, Julius Drake, who has some very rewarding piano parts to play and dispatches them with considerable aplomb.
This is then a very appealing disc; interesting, occasionally gripping, works performed by a great artist at the height of his powers. As ever with Hyperion recordings, full texts are included and the sleeve-notes are excellent. The cover pictures on this label's CDs are invariably beautiful and this one, featuring Sir Frank Dicksee's painting "La belle dame sans merci", is no exception.
This is a very interesting CD and a great mixture of songs and you hear this pair (for Julius Drake is as important as Finley) at their best.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
The recital opens well enough with Beethoven's witty 'Song of the Flea' form Goethe's 'Faust' and includes such well known songs as Schubert's 'Erlkonig', and Mahler's 'Wo die schonen Trompeten blasen', and Wolf's 'Der Feuerreiter' - stories to tell musically. But then there are strange inclusions such as the idiomatic Brahms' 'Es war ein Markgraf uberm Rhein' - a rather dreary attempt by the composer, as well as inclusions of Arthur Sullivan's 'The Lost Chord', Cole Porter's rather fluffy 'The Tale of the Oyster', and Carl Loewe's 'Edward' that just seem out of place in the context of the other works and especially in the context of the history of tasteful programming for which both Gerald Finney and Julius Drake are known.
The performances vary from superb to lackluster - a disappointment for the public who is willing to forgive many flaws. When so many sopranos and mezzo-sopranos are able to assemble recitals such as this without dipping into secondary works, then it is a plausible concept to have a themed recital. This one just needed more time and thought. Grady Harp, October 11
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