This distinctive, attractive and wide-ranging recital consists of
songs by twenty-one composers. Some of these are little known and date
c.1680 to c.1950. A too boring chronological order is subtly avoided for
given below. Seven different languages are employed with English
It quite surprised me how many songs there are from which Chen Reiss and
Spencer could choose as they planned this performance on the subject of
and/or nightingales. More to the point, how many poems there are on the
from all eras. As Franz Binder comments in a brief booklet essay the
themes bring to mind the “murmuring forests of German Romanticism,
tales and poems that tell of love, of its longing and pain”, so I
be too surprised, really, should I.
Reiss has divided the sequence into five sections:
1. ‘Eros’, is normally interpreted as ‘desire’
a song like Purcell’s Sweeter than Roses
, which from a kiss
to ‘victorious love’.
2. ‘Elysium’ can be thought of as ‘deep joy’, and
Paradise hence, for example, the song Le marriage des roses
Franck with the words “do you know how roses wed”.
3. Solitude; in this section we have Bellini’s setting of an
poem Vanne, o Rosa fortunate:
“a lovely rose, we are
by the same destiny/we are bound to meet in death”.
4. Humour - exemplified by Schubert’s happy
a poem by Goethe, as the picked rose, pricks the picker!
5. Finally, Myth. In Sherwin’s famous song we know that the
never did sing in Berkeley Square at least the RSPB seems to say so (!)
it’s nice to think it might have.
I really like Chen Reiss’s voice. For my taste she lacks, I am
to say, that powerfully operatic touch. This is a true recital voice.
is a vibrato but it is under control and sometimes not employed at all.
pitches are crystal clear and she is very expressive with the text and has
even tone quality right across her range. She is a soprano but exploits
lower textures effectively if need be. She is also versatile and has been
willing to extend her personal repertoire.
Charles Spencer is the most attentive of accompanists allowing the singer
explore the melodic lines as she wishes and being sensitive to every
Out of all of these contrasted songs and their various stylistic demands,
have especially struck me? Reiss clearly sings with a smile in
Die Rose, die Lilie
sadly, women don’t have many chances to perform it. I had forgotten
a heart-rendingly gorgeous song Meine Rose
is from the same
cycle called Sechs Gedichte und Requiem
. She negotiates
contorted and emotional setting of Karl Krause’s poem Die
- the longest on the disc - with consummate ease. It’s interesting
compare it with Berg’s setting of a poem with the same title but by
Storm, which is surprisingly less intense.
There are just so many delicious, miniature gems here. I just love the
melancholy La Rosa y el sauce
by the Argentinian Carlos Guatavino.
good to have such delightful French songs as those by Hahn and a composer
to me I’m ashamed to say, Pauline Viardot. Her Les deux roses
a track to play regularly. It’s good to have a rare song by
and such a light and happy example as Die Rosenblätter
also a rare song composed in a folksy style by Weber on a similar subject
that set by Schubert, Ich Sah ein Röschen
The song by Saint-Saëns, Le rossignol et la Rose
incidental music to the play Parysatis
and is a vocalise which
of the monosyllable ‘Ah’. This allows the composer and the
to indulge in some delightfully virtuoso bird-calls. Another pleasure is
Israeli composer Mordechai Zeir’s song Schnei Shoshanim
a real happening in a restaurant - I say no more.
This very well filled disc has all the texts supplied and nicely
with a brief note on each song and its composer. More detailed notes can
found on the Onyx website.
Henry PURCELL (1659-1695)
Sweeter than Roses
Reynaldo HAHN (1874-1947)
Le Rossignol de lilas
Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949)
[2.21]; Das Rosenband
Edvard GRIEG (1843-1907)
Die verschwiegone Nachtigall
Op. 48 no. 4 [2.13]
Ernest KRENEK (1900-1991)
Op. 68 [7.00]
César FRANCK (1822-1890)
Roses et papillons
Le marriage des roses
Pauline VIARDOT (1821-1910
Les deux roses
Ach die Nachtigal
Vianne, o rosa fortunate
Carlos GUASTAVINO (1912-2000)
La rosa y el sauce
Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911
Giacomo MEYERBEER (1791-1864)
Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
Carl Maria von WEBER (1786-1826)
Ich sah ein Röschen am Wege stehn
Le Rossignol et la Rose
Gabriel FAURÉ (1845-1924
Les Roses d’Ispahan
Mordechai ZEIRA (1905-1968
(Two Roses) [5.17]
A nightingale sings to the rose
Op. 2 no. 2 (2.48]
Manning SHERWIN (1902-1974)
A nightingale sang in Berkeley Square
(arr. Gerlitz) [3.50]