SCHUBERT: Viola. Ganymed. Die Sommernacht. Romanze. An den Mond in einer Herbstnacht. Litanei aus das Fest Allerseelen. Greisengesang. Der Winterabend. Klage der Ceres / Sharon Carty, mezzo; Jonathan Ware, pno / Genuin 20697
This is a classical concept album with an interesting twist. Irish mezzo-soprano Sharon Carty has selected nine mostly lesser-known Schubert lied (only Ganymed jumped out at me as a title I had seen before) arranged in a manner celebrating the four seasons. The arrangement is as follows:
Spring: Viola, Ganymed.
Summer: Die Sommernacht, Romanze.
Autumn: An den Mond in einer Herbstnacht, Litanei aus das Fest.
Winter: Greisengesang, Der Winterabend, Klage der Ceres.
It’s an interesting program, particularly since it opens with one of Schubert’s longest songs other than Der Hirt aus dem Felsen (which, of course, could also have been a spring song if she included a clarinetist). Carty has a very pretty voice with next to no vibrato and very fine phrasing, but her deficit is that she doesn’t interpret much at all except in a generic way. This puts her recital in the same category as Elly Ameling’s Schubert. For those of you not old enough to remember, Ameling had one of the prettiest soprano voices of the 1960s and ‘70s, but couldn’t interpret if you put a gun to her head. Of course, this didn’t stop critics, particularly the British critics, from falling all over her while such superior female song interpreters like Carole Bogard went practically unnoticed.
Granted, the words of Viola aren’t exactly terribly dramatic or poetic. They exalt the melting of the snowdrops to make way for the “happy time” of spring, “So that the flowers of the earth / Rise from their dark nests / And to prove worthy of the bridegroom / Adorn themselves for the wedding feast,” but she could have tried to sound happy at least. Nor does pianist Jonathan Ware help her any; his playing is as bland as her singing.
So I’m rather down on Carty as an artist but very high on her as a vocalist. I wish her well and hope that someday she does develop some interpretive skills. Voices as pretty as hers don’t exactly grow on trees. But as of right now, she’s a cipher.
—© 2020 Lynn René Bayley
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