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Silver Voice - Katherine Bryan

Silver Voice - Katherine Bryan

Chandos  CHSA 5211

Stereo/Multichannel Hybrid

Classical - Orchestral


Robert Janssens: Fantasy on Mozart's Die Zauberflote
Giacomo Puccini: 'O mio babbino caro' from Gianni Schicchi
Charles-Francois Gounod: 'Ah, je ris de me voir' from Faust, 'Je veux vivre' from Romeo et Juliette
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: 'Dove sono i bei momenti' from 'Le nozze di Figaro
Antonin Dvorak: 'Song to the moon' from Rusalska
George Gershwin: 'Summertime' from Porgy and Bess
Leo Delibes: 'Sous le dôme épais' from Lakme*
Franz Lehar: 'Vilja' from Die lustige Witwe
Francois Borne: Carmen Fantasy (after Bizet)

Katherine Bryan & Kevin Gowland* (flutes)
Orchestra of Opera North
Bramwell Tovey (conductor)

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Review by John Broggio - November 12, 2017

An impeccably played and recorded high quality "cross over" album. Why the quotation marks? Well, none of the repertoire would be unfamiliar to the Orchestra of Opera North but the presentation of it is slightly unusual.

Two fantasies bookend the disc, one on Die Zauberflote and one on Carmen, the remainder being faithful (after making due allowances for the need to transcribe up an octave or two and the lack of words) renditions of Puccini's "O mio babbino caro" & "Un bel di vedremo", Gounod's "Ah, je ris de me voir" & "Je veux vivre", Mozart's "Dove sono i bei momento", Dvorak's "Song to the moon", Gershwin's "Summertime", Delibes' "Flower duet" and Lehar's "Vilja song".

Throughout, Bramwell Tovey is a sympathetic accompanist for Katherine Bryan's "Silver Voice". In preparation for making this disc, Bryan consulted with Karen Cargill for advice about how singers approach this material to this style into purely instrumental terms. Whatever results became of this consultation alas amount to little because the prominence afforded to Bryan is not far off that which was given to Perlman in the 1980s, reducing much of the nuance between Bryan and orchestra that sounds like was happening in the hall. One notes that in opera houses, the soloists are behind the orchestra not in front of them as Bryan was placed, which will not have helped matters in this respect. Equally, the dynamic range is compressed, further reducing the emotional pull of the playing, seductively beautiful though it is; both of these are unnecessary because Bryan is playing in entirely distinct registers from the orchestra and (even at original pitch) should easily project across the orchestra.

No one will quibble about the tempo choices across the album; it would have made for greater stylistic interest had a more "modern" approach to performing these varied composers been adopted; both orchestra and soloist imbue similar levels of tonal lustre and vibrato to Mozart as they do to Gershwin. In Bryan's defence, that is partly a reflection of choosing so many soprano arias and not being able to enunciate the words that go so far to aid characterisation.

Musical purists will likely not want to play this repeatedly for some or all of the above reasons; for those wanting a present to a friend or relative who enjoys Classic FM (or similar), this disc cannot be recommended too highly. It is to be hoped that such a musical talent as those presented here are allowed to present some complete works of the repertoire for flute and orchestra.

Copyright © 2017 John Broggio and HRAudio.net

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Comment by William Hecht - November 14, 2017 (1 of 5)

This is one time I'm sorry to agree with John. The effect of an otherwise enjoyable hour+ of pleasant entertainment has been seriously diluted by the poor balance between soloist and orchestra. If her liner notes are anything to go by Bryan probably had higher expectations for this program than were reasonable, after all the flute is not a human voice, but her intentions and performance deserve better than the recording delivers.

Comment by hiredfox - November 18, 2017 (2 of 5)

The disc is certainly getting a lot of air time over here so will likely feature in UK "Top Ten" charts soon! It's the kind of disc that I hate instinctively but the Christmas shopping public will love as a "Granny" stocking filler.

What does please me is that we have not lost Katherine along with Linn and although this one is not for me it bodes well for the future that she has some kind of deal with Chandos.

Comment by William Hecht - November 18, 2017 (3 of 5)

As, c'mon John lighten up, even we grandpa's and grandma's deserve a little fun now and then. Besides if Chandos sells a ton of these and makes a pile of money on them that's not a bad thong.

Comment by hiredfox - November 20, 2017 (4 of 5)

There is desperate need for emoji's on here!

:-)

Comment by William Hecht - November 21, 2017 (5 of 5)

Glad to have provided some unintentional amusement!