Silver Voice - Katherine Bryan
Chandos CHSA 5211
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)
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 suggested in the recording. 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