Notes and Editorial Reviews
What do the Spaniard Fernando J. Obradors, the Frenchman Reynaldo Hahn, the German Richard Strauss and the Brazilian Francisco Ernani Braga have in common? All set texts of passion and love in the language of the cultural area precisely corresponding to that of Carolina Ullrich and Marcelo Amaral. The German-Chilean soprano – presently engaged at the Semperoper – and the Brazilian pianist Marcelo Amaral soulfully combine, on their debut CD issued by Genuin, the subjects that convey universal meaning throughout the world: love, jealousy, joy of living and laughter from the eyes of children. - Genuin
EMOCIÓN • Carolina Ullrich (sop); Marcelo Amaral (pn) • GENUIN 12234 (59:30 Text and Translation)
OBRADORS Al Amor. La mi sola. Laureola. Del cabello más sutil. Coracón, porqué pasáis. Con amores, la mi madre. El majo celoso. Chiquitita la novia. HAHN À Chloris. Le Printemps. Le Rossignol des Lilas. Mai. La Dernière valse. R. STRAUSS Begegnung. Rpte Rosen. Das Rosenband. Die erwachte Rose. Muttertändelei. Meinem Kinde. Ständchen. BRAGA Capim di Pranta. A casinha pequenina. O’Kinimbá. São João-da-ra-rão. Nigue-Nigue-Ninhas. Engenho novo!
Here is proof positive that you cannot judge a book—or a CD—by its cover. Despite the title of this disc (Emoción), the photo of Marcelo Amaral and Carolina Ullrich on the cover neither depicts emotion nor inspires much confidence. He (the pianist) looks like he just rolled out of bed, his hair tousled, three days’ growth of stubble on his face, and one of those “don’t talk to me yet, I just woke up” looks in his eyes. She (the soprano) resembles Frida Kahlo in a grumpy mood. If they are projecting any sort of “emoción,” that emoción is ennui.
But from the first notes of the actual disc, your ears perk up and never quite relax again for the remaining 59 minutes. Ullrich has one of those superbly placed light soprano voices, with a bright, crystalline cut up top (even at soft volume) and sensuous warmth in the mid and lower ranges. I kept searching my memory banks for a soprano she reminded me of, but the closest I could come was Suzanne Adams, star of the Metropolitan Opera in the so-called Golden Age, or perhaps a combination of Maria Stader for the upper range and Victoria de los Angeles in the midrange. And she is a better interpreter than all three of those sopranos.
Ullrich also does the listener a great favor by selecting some lesser-known songs of these four composers. Ullrich caresses a lyric line as if the music were written for her and her alone; her command of dynamics in shading the voice is impeccable; and, in the end, the “emoción” one feels most strongly in this recital is love—love for every single song she performs, and hopefully, that the listener will love these songs at least half as much as she does.
It also helps that her partner, Amaral, is not only an outstanding pianist but also someone who knows the soprano’s style very well. They have been giving recitals together since 2005, and that long association shows itself in every phrase of every song. The pianist provides a bright, sparkling, at times soaring accompaniment to Ullrich’s lyric excursions. They are truly together on every note and phrase in this disc.
The Strauss group indicates that Ullrich, for all her excellence, is not quite at the highest level of Lieder interpreters. I should point out, however, that the specific songs chosen are not among the composer’s deepest—they tend to center on love, courtship, and flirtation—and she is at least lively with a sense of the words and mood of each song.
After having made a comment on the cover photo, I should be fair and say that in the interior booklet photos Ullrich is smiling, almost a little flirty in her looks. Alas, Amaral appears only a bit more awake and alert than on the cover. (I’ll be nice and not tell you what I read into those photos.) But who cares? A picture may be worth a thousand words, but a recording this good trumps a thousand pictures.
- Lynn René Bayley,