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Thoughts Observed
Robert SCHUMANN (1810 – 1856)
Dichterliebe, Op. 48 (1840) [28:31]
Henri DUPARC (1848 – 1933)
L’Invitation au voyage (1870) [4:25]
Claude DEBUSSY (1862 – 1918)
Beau soir (1891) [2:29]
Romance (1891) [1:52]
Nuit d’étoiles (1880) [3:07]
Mandoline (1882) [1:27]
Reynaldo HAHN (1874 – 1947)
À Chloris (1916) [2:47]
Francis POULENC (1899 – 1963)
Le bestiaire (1919) [4:59]
Vous n’eécrivez plus? (1954) [0:48]
Priez pour paix (1938) [2:35]
Yaniv d’Or (countertenor)
Dan Deutsch (piano)
rec. 2014/15, Teldex Studio, Berlin
Sung texts and translations available online
NAXOS 8.573780 [53:02]

The young British countertenor Yaniv d’Or has a cultural background in Sephardic Jewry and with Spanish, Turkish, Egyptian and Libyan ancestry he has a wide scope within folk songs from various times and places. He has recorded two albums with ‘his’ music. But as a result of his studies at the Guildhall, London, he began to nurture an interest in nineteenth century Romantic love songs and the present album is his view of that genre, filtered through the music of his roots.

Honestly it took me some time to get used to the sound of the countertenor voice in this repertoire, but his wholehearted involvement in what he sings soon pays dividends. The Schumann cycle has been recorded uncountable times by now and most readers will already have favourite recordings on their shelves. I admit that I have around 20 versions and this is just a fraction of what is or has been available. But whenever a new recording appears I am still curious to hear it and find out if it can bring something new: a fresh approach, unusual tempos, unorthodox phrasing.

Yaniv d’Or produces a well-rounded sound, he is sensitive to nuances and sings the inward songs, Aus meinen Tränen sprießen, for instance (tr. 2) or Wenn ich in deine Augen seh’ (tr. 4) with great warmth. But some high notes are delivered at full voice. They stick out and disrupts the flow of the music. Occasionally he also adopts a hooting tone (think Kirsten Flagstad at the end of her career) and exaggerates fortes, and some accents could have been less marked but basically this is a fascinating voice, employed with taste. Im Rhein, im heiligen Strome (tr. 6) is a song where lighter-voiced singers can sound pale and undernourished but this is not the case here. Where he is a bit underwhelming is in the final song, Die alten bösen Lieder (tr. 16), where the low tessitura poses some problems. Elsewhere he is completely at ease with the music. Und wüßten’s die Blumen, die kleinen (tr. 8) is ideally soft, Das ist ein Flöten und Geigen (tr. 9) has the right rhythmic swagger, Hör‘ ich das Liedchen klingen (tr. 10) is just lovely and Ein Jüngling liebt ein Mädchen (tr. 11) has the freshness of a folk song. All in all this is a winning interpretation of Dichterliebe that I will be pleased to return to. Let me just add that that Dan Deutsch is an excellent accompanist and comes on his own in the sensitively played postlude to Die alten bösen Lieder.

The rest of the programme is French and it seems that this repertoire suits him even better than Schumann. Henri Duparc’s L’invitation au voyage (tr. 17) is beautifully sung and the four Debussy melodies are exquisitely performed. The early Nuit d’étoiles – composed when Debussy was only eighteen – is exceptionally well sung. The well-known Mandoline – also an early work – is light and charming. I have a soft spot for Reynaldo Hahn's songs and À Chloris (tr. 22) with its modern sounding accompaniment has long been a great favourite. Yaniv d’Or sings it with lovely tone and care over phrasing.

Francis Poulenc was just a child when he read Apollinaire’s slightly surrealistic animal portraits, which he set to music when he was twenty. Structurally they are simple but still quite fascinating and Yaniv d’Or makes a lot of them. He also brings out the ironic undertone in Vous n’ecrivez plus? In the final song, a prayer for peace, a setting of a fifteenth century poem by Charles Duc d’Orleans, we meet the serious Poulenc and this is a worthy conclusion of this disc. I’m looking forward to hearing Yaniv d’Or again, and I am convinced many readers will find a lot to admire in this programme. Richard Jones’s liner notes are a further asset.

Göran Forsling



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