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Song Recital

Handel / Scarlatti / Rameau / Bach / Martin / Graf
Release Date: 10/09/2012 
Label:  Claves   Catalog #: 604   Spars Code: ADD 
Composer:  George Frideric HandelAlessandro ScarlattiJean-Philippe RameauFrank Martin,   ... 
Performer:  Michio KobayashiPeter-Lukas GrafKathrin GrafRaffaele Altwegg,   ... 
Number of Discs: 1 
Length: 0 Hours 55 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



SONG RECITAL Kathrin Graf (sop); Peter-Lukas Graf (fl); Raffaele Altwegg (vc); Michio Kobayashi (hpd, pn) CLAVES 0604 (54:46 Text and Translation)


HANDEL 9 Arias for Soprano, Flute and Continuo: Meine Seele hört im Sehen. SCARLATTI Cantata, Solitudini amene. RAMEAU Read more class="ARIAL12bi">Hippolyte et Aricie: Rossignols amoreux. BACH Cantata 204: Meine Seele sei vergnügt. MARTIN 3 Christmas Songs after Albert Rudhardt. ROUSSEL 2 Poems by Ronsard for Voice and Flute. RAVEL Chansons Madécasses


Soprano Kathrin Graf, now 70 years old and quite possibly retired—the last activity I could find for her online was from 2004—has made very few recordings, though she is best known for her series of Bach cantatas with conductor Helmuth Rilling from around 2000 (Hänssler). According to the website bach-cantatas.com/Bio/Graf-Kathrin.htm, this disc, originally recorded in 1976, is her only assorted recital album, though curiously she also recorded Brahms’s Liebeslieder Waltzes and Haydn’s Nelson Mass . She has (had?) a very sweet little voice with an attractive flicker-vibrato, fine musicianship, and excellent technique. As for the style in which she sings the Baroque material on this disc, however, it may as well be from another planet as well as from another century. This is Baroque music the way it sounded before the “historically informed” crowd took over and began dictating terms of musical style. In addition to the fact that Graf’s voice has a light vibrato (heresy!), the flute plays with warmth and a rounded tone, and the continuo is actually played on a cello and not a viola da gamba. Unbelievable!


Yet for those who remember with affection the Baroque recordings of other sopranos whose work was “on the cusp,” such as American soprano Carole Bogard (one of my early idols, and I still love and revere her work), this CD will be a welcome guest in your home. I found her Alma Gluck-like rendition of the famous showpiece “Rossignols amoureux” not quite as enticing as that of Kathleen Battle or Patricia Petibon, but that is splitting hairs. On its own terms, it is a very well-phrased and beautifully articulated rendition, and Graf’s sweet, bird-like trills do indeed capture the spirit of the nightingale. In case you are wondering, yes, flute player Peter-Lukas Graf is related to her…in fact, he’s her brother, and a very fine flautist he is, too.


The more “rounded,” earlier style of singing Bach can be heard in Graf’s performance of “Meine Selle sei vergnügt” from Cantata 204, but this is exactly how I want to hear this music. Note, for instance, the little “bounce” that Graf gives to the 3/4 rhythm, making it sound more like a minuet than a waltz—an important distinction in meter. Graf’s highest notes here have an impressive bell-like quality to them that I found very attractive.


Immediately following Bach, however, Graf makes a startling musical and stylistic change, singing the much more modern, bitonal music of Frank Martin (1890-1974), and although these are ostensibly Christmas songs (titled “Les Cadeaux,” “Image de Noël” and “Les Bergers”), the music is about as far from sounding “Christmassy” as one could imagine. This is not a criticism, merely a definition of musical style. In fact, the third song is more tonal than the preceding two, but again, it sounds more like a French folk song than like a “Christmas” tune.


Even more fascinating, and also more creative, are Albert Roussel’s Two Poems by Ronsard, yet another nightingale song, and “Ciel, air et vents.” Graf displays her outstanding musicianship here, making this fairly austere music “sing” as if it were Debussy or Fauré. It’s apparent that, being raised primarily on Baroque music, she didn’t believe very strongly in interpretation, but that is immaterial in songs such as these. The same thing may also be said for her performance of Ravel’s exquisite Chansons Madécasses, which Graf limns with exquisite phrasing and light tone coloring. The booklet contains the words of all songs and arias, but only in the original languages (German and French).


In toto, then, a very fine recital. But a necessary one? If you are a vocal collector, possibly, since Graf’s recorded output is so small, and she was most certainly an outstanding musician, but if you have these items elsewhere in your collection by other singers I can’t tell you that it is a must-have disc. The choice is yours.


FANFARE: Lynn René Bayley
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Works on This Recording

1. German Arias (9): no 6, Meine Seele hört im Sehen, HWV 207 by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Michio Kobayashi (Harpsichord), Peter-Lukas Graf (Flute), Kathrin Graf (),
Raffaele Altwegg (Cello)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1724-1727; London, England 
Date of Recording: 1976 
Venue:  Protestant Church in Seon 
Length: 5 Minutes 46 Secs. 
2. Solitudini amene, apriche collinette, chamber cantata for soprano, flute & continuo by Alessandro Scarlatti
Performer:  Michio Kobayashi (Harpsichord), Raffaele Altwegg (Cello), Peter-Lukas Graf (Flute),
Kathrin Graf ()
Period: Baroque 
Date of Recording: 1976 
Venue:  Protestant Church in Seon 
Length: 6 Minutes 48 Secs. 
3. Rossignols amoureaux, arietta for soprano, flute, violin & harpsichord by Jean-Philippe Rameau
Performer:  Raffaele Altwegg (Cello), Peter-Lukas Graf (Flute), Alexander Van Wijnkoop (Violin),
Michio Kobayashi (Harpsichord), Kathrin Graf ()
Period: Baroque 
Date of Recording: 1976 
Venue:  Protestant Church in Seon 
Length: 6 Minutes 47 Secs. 
4. Chants (3) de Noël by Frank Martin
Performer:  Kathrin Graf (), Michio Kobayashi (Piano), Peter-Lukas Graf (Flute)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1947; Switzerland 
Date of Recording: 1976 
Venue:  Protestant Church in Seon 
Length: 28 Minutes 24 Secs. 
5. Cantata No. 204, "Ich bin in mir vergnügt," BWV 204 (BC G45): Meine Seele sei vergnügt for soprano, by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Raffaele Altwegg (Cello), Peter-Lukas Graf (Flute), Kathrin Graf (),
Michio Kobayashi (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1726-1727 
Date of Recording: 1976 
Venue:  Protestant Church in Seon 
Length: 7 Minutes 37 Secs. 

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