Notes and Editorial Reviews
for Violin, Clarinet, & Piano
Cantilena e Scherzo
Canti della lontananza
Marianne Thorsen (vn);
Max Martin (cl);
Roger Vignoles (pn);
Christine Brewer (sop);
Gillian Tingay (hp);
RTÉ Vanbrugh Qt
CHAMPS HILL CHRCD 0006 (54:45)
This is a lovely recording, handicapped severely by the lack of printed texts. The finest music here is the cycle Gian Carlo Menotti wrote for Elisabeth Schwarzkopf,
Canti della lontananza
. Menotti himself wrote the texts in Italian as well as the music, and has spoken of how important the words are in this cycle. The accompanying notes provide a mini-summary of each song, but it isn’t sufficient.
The shame is that Christine Brewer and Roger Vignoles give these the finest recorded performance I’ve encountered. There is a good performance by Anne Victoria Banks on Nuova Era (also without texts), and another by Judith Howarth and Malcolm Martineau serving as filler on Chandos’s recording of
(9605). But the power, control, and sheer glow of Brewer’s voice—capable of both extraordinary power and genuine intimacy—along with her expressive coloration and inflection make this an essential disc for Menotti collectors despite the lack of printed texts.
The other five songs (“The Eternal Prisoner,” “Idle Gift,” “The Longest Wait,” “My Ghost,” and “The Swing”) are not quite at the level of inspiration of the Italian cycle, but they are enjoyable nonetheless, and are also performed to perfection by Brewer.
What is unusual about this CD is its mixture of vocal and instrumental music by Menotti. Some may find that off-putting. I find it attractive. It provides a more complete picture of Menotti than we often get, and he was actually an inventive instrumental composer despite the fact that we tend to associate him with the voice. The trio here is a wonderful work, reminding me at times of Shostakovich in its wit and angularity. The
Cantilena and Scherzo
is precisely what you’d expect from its title, with the lyrical
section both beginning and ending the piece. It is a lovely discovery. The instrumental performances are committed and very accurate, and the recorded sound is extremely natural and clear. The notes are fine. This would be close to a perfect disc had they included the texts.
FANFARE: Henry Fogel