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Songs / Magdalena Kozená


Release Date: 07/13/2004 
Label:  Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog #: 471581   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Maurice RavelDmitri ShostakovichOttorino RespighiBenjamin Britten,   ... 
Performer:  Magdalena KozenáMalcolm MartineauPaul Edmund-DaviesJiri Barta,   ... 
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Henschel String Quartet
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 4 Mins. 

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This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

R E V I E W S:

ClassicsToday
Magdalena Kožená's multi-lingual recital shows this singer's formidable talent for performing widely varying musical styles. Beginning with her idiomatic French (of which we had a substantial sampling on her previous French arias disc on DG, she uses her light but well-placed and penetrating mezzo to illuminate Ravel's seductive Madagascar Songs. Listen to how Kožená creates a near-hypnotic effect with her passionate repeated cries of "Nahandove". In Shostakovich's Satires (5 Romances for Soprano and Piano ) Kožená embodies the composer's varied emotional states, from bemusement to sarcasm, and, in the concluding "Kreutzer Sonata", repressed
Read more frenzy, although this last calls for more edginess than the soft-toned mezzo is able to provide.

After Shostakovich's sharp edges, Respighi's lush romantic rhapsody Il Tramonto allows Kožená the opportunity to luxuriate in long, expansive melodic lines as well as in the resonance of pure Italianate vowels, for which the singer provides an engaging fullness of tone and depth of expression. From this we turn to Schulhoff's Drei Stimmungsbilder (for mezzo-soprano, violin, and piano), which begins with a lazy, quasi blues song about the sea and ends in a Debussian impressionistic haze. Kožená's creamy tone and gentle delivery make even the German language sound soft and inviting. In Britten's Charm of Lullabies Kožená's occasional odd stress and prolonged vowels make it apparent she's not a native English speaker. No matter, her sincerity and unerring musical instincts shine through, communicating the power and poignancy of Britten's songs.

The well-chosen selections offer a variety of accompaniments, from the flute, cello, and piano trio in the Ravel, to the string quartet in the Respighi, with Malcom Martineau's sensitive pianism providing fundamental support throughout. DG's recording provides vividly realistic sonics, placing the singer and instrumentalists in natural, well-balanced perspective. In sum, this is an excellent recital disc that will please connoisseurs of the voice as well as collectors of uncommon repertoire. - Victor Carr Jr, ClassicsToday

Fanfare
Much interest in Magdalena Kožená’s powerful new recital disc will be centered on Erwin Schulhoff’s Drei Stimmungsbilder (“Three Atmospheric Portraits”), op. 12. This haunting piece by the singularly talented composer, who was murdered in a concentration camp by the Nazis in 1942 at the age of forty-eight, is well worth hearing. The gifted mezzo is helped in no little part by the ideal accompaniment provided by Malcolm Martineau who also lends strong support to Ms. Kožená’s moody singing of Britten’s spooky A Charm of Lullabies. The Czech singer’s charmingly accented English lends the music an extra brooding quality. Written for Peter Pears, the music is a showcase for Ms. Kožená’s ravishingly beautiful low voice.

It would be hard to find a better performance of Respighi’s magnificent work for soprano and string quartet, Il tramonto. Though recorded by the likes of Irmgard Seefried, Sena Jurinac, and Anne Sofie von Otter, none have found the sensuous heart of the music better than Kožená. The Henschel quartet plays splendidly, as do the instrumentalists in Ravel’s Chansons madécasses, the only really humorous counterpoint to these dark works, unless you count the grimly sardonic Shostakovich Satires. Young Magdalena Kožená proves a master of these challenging works, each and every one. This is an impressive follow up to her first recital and is, for this reviewer, the lovely mezzo’s finest work on disc to date. The recording is first rate. Only the skimpy notes, which do not even mention the sad biography of Schulhoff, leave anything to be desired. Kudos to DG for resisting the temptation to give this serious disc a floridly irrelevant title. Highly recommended.

James Camner, FANFARE
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Works on This Recording

1.
Chansons madécasses by Maurice Ravel
Performer:  Magdalena Kozená (Mezzo Soprano), Malcolm Martineau (Piano), Paul Edmund-Davies (Flute),
Jiri Barta (Cello)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1925-1926; France 
Date of Recording: 06/2003 
Venue:  EMI Abey Road Studio no 1, London, UK 
Language: French 
2.
Satires (5), Op. 109 by Dmitri Shostakovich
Performer:  Malcolm Martineau (Piano), Magdalena Kozená (Mezzo Soprano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1960; USSR 
Date of Recording: 2003 
Venue:  Max-Joseph-Saal, Residenz, Munich 
Language: Russian 
3.
Il tramonto by Ottorino Respighi
Performer:  Magdalena Kozená (Mezzo Soprano)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Henschel String Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1914; Italy 
Date of Recording: 2003 
Venue:  Max-Joseph-Saal, Residenz, Munich 
Language: Italian 
4.
A Charm of Lullabies, Op. 41 by Benjamin Britten
Performer:  Magdalena Kozená (Mezzo Soprano), Malcolm Martineau (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1947; England 
Date of Recording: 2003 
Venue:  Max-Joseph-Saal, Residenz, Munich 
Language: English 
5.
Mood Pictures (3), Op. 12 by Erwin Schulhoff
Performer:  Christoph Henschel (Violin), Malcolm Martineau (Piano), Magdalena Kozená (Mezzo Soprano)
Period: 20th Century 
Date of Recording: 2003 
Venue:  Max-Joseph-Saal, Residenz, Munich 
Language: English 

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