GRIEG: 6 Lieder. BRAHMS: Dein blaues Auge. Immer leiser wird mein Schlummer. Mädchenlied. Sapphische Ode. Alte Liebe. Mein Liebe ist grün. LANG: Scheideblick. Ob ich manchmal dein gedanke. Die Schwalben. Gestern und Heute. Mignons Klage. Abschied. SCHUMANN: 6 Gedichte und Requiem / Catriona Morison, mezzo; Malcolm Martineau, pno / Linn CKD 637
This is the first recording by Scottish-German mezzo Catriona Morison, who turns 35 this year. In the old days (pre-1990), this would be considered a little late for a debut album, but in these times singers have to go through years of competitions before they’re considered ready or good enough to actually perform. Morison has won the Main Prize and shared the Song Prize at the 2017 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition.
As one can see from the album cover, Ms. Morison has a very steady and penetrating gaze. When you open the actual album (a gatefold sleeve), there is an enlargement of her eyes staring at you. She is a VERY serious singer.
She also has a very lovely voice, clear and bright, with excellent, crisp diction and a surprising depth in the low range evident on the second of Grieg’s 6 Lieder (“Dereinst, Gedanke mein”). She can also interpret the words fairly well, modulating her dynamics expertly, though I am not ready to compare her with Dame Janet Baker or Elisabeth Kulman. She has a ways to go in this respect, but she clearly has the goods and only needs to refine her approach.
It also helps that she has Martineau, one of our finest living accompanists, on this disc. His playing is unfailingly musical and beautifully shaped, and he matches her perfectly in those moments when she sings delicately.
I confess to having had no prior knowledge of Josephine Lang (1815-1880) who, as it turns out, had none other than Felix Mendelssohn as a mentor. According to the notes, “many of her finest songs were inspired by the burgeoning love between her and the law professor and poet Reinhold Köstlin.” They’re good, well-written pieces, some of the texts having been written by Nikolaus Lenau, Goethe and Christoph Tiege, but show little individuality in her style.
Bottom line: this is a very nice disc and a good introduction to Morison’s voice. I will certainly keep her name in mind and see if she grows as an interpreter in the coming years.
—© 2021 Lynn René Bayley
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