TWO SOPRANOS

German lyric soprano Hanna-Elisabeth Müller has assembled a collection of Richard Strauss songs with orchestra for Sinnbild, her new album for Pentatone (PTC5186806, CD) which she sings exquisitely.

Her program includes the coloratura showpiece Säusle, liebe Myrthe!, the well-known Ständchen, Morgen!, and Allerseelen, the lesser known Winterweihe and Waldseligkeit, and Malven, Strauss’s last song.

Climaxing the album, Strauss’ Four Last Songs are lovingly accompanied by the WDR Symphony Orchestra under Christoph Eschenbach. Often the province of Marshallin-type sopranos, rather than Sophie-type voices, Müller defies all preconceptions, delivering an impressively accomplished performance of this iconic cycle: rapturous in Frühling, inexhaustibly generous of voice in September, comforting in Beim Schlafengehen, full-voiced yet glowingly lyrical in the closing Im Abendrot.

Lebanese-born, Canadiansoprano Isabel Bayrakdarian’s new album for Pentatone’s AVIE Records La Zingarella: Through Romany Songland (AV2506, CD) is a collection of songs and arias with Romani roots.

It is interesting how as Ms. Bayrakdarian has matured in age and artistry her basically lyric soprano instrument has deepened and taken on the coloring of a lyric mezzo, all the while retaining her bright upper range.

Liszt’s Die drei Zigeuner, Brahms’s Gypsy Songs, Dvořák’s Gypsy Songs, and airs from operettas by Franz Lehár, Emmerich Kálmán, and Victor Herbert, happily follow one another. For good measure there are a couple of airs from Bizet’s Carmen in an arrangement by Peter Tiefenbach. There are Hispanic ditties by, among others, Sebastián Iradier, Joaquín Valverde, and Henry F. B. Gilbert, throughout delivering an honestly unpretentious approach to music-making and the kind of first-class vocalism that wins the heart of the listener.

Oh, and in this album, she sings in perfectly idiomatic German, Czech, French, and Spanish!

Violinist Mark Fewer, violist Juan-Miguel Hernandez, and the Gryphon Trio, with Annalee Patipatanakoon on violin, Roman Borys on cello, and Jamie Parker on piano lend excellent support to the soprano.

Rafael de Acha © 2022

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