The booklet note to a new release from Nimbus Records www.wyastone.co.uk makes the point that it is his songs from the period 1860 to 1890 that receive the most attention, appearing to overshadow his later, perhaps even finer works in this genre.
This new recording features Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano) www.charlottederothschild.com and Adrian Farmer (piano) in songs that date between 1888 and 1919.
Charlotte de Rothschild studied at the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria and at the Royal College of Music in London. She was a soloist for the Bach Choir with Sir David Willcocks in Exeter, Wells and Truro Cathedrals, in King's College, Cambridge and at the Royal Festival Hall. She performed in Mozart's Requiem twice in the Place de la Madeleine in Paris and was a soloist in Rossini's Petite Messe Solonelle for a recording made in Japan.
Rothschild has recently performed Japanese songs in the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and in New York at the Nippon Club. With her wide knowledge of the song repertoire, from different eras, countries and genres, she has created themed programmes; the best known being the Family Connections programme which she has performed all over the world. Some of the concerts took place in original family houses such as the Villa Ephrussi-Rothschild in the south of France, the Château de Ferrières outside Paris and in the Rothschild-Palais in Frankfurt where she presented this programme for Chancellor Kohl on the 250th anniversary of the birth of Mayer Amschel, the founder of the dynasty.
More recently she performed the "Family Connections" programme in Mumbai, Athens, and in Geneva with Danielle Perrett accompanying on the harp. Last year she presented this programme in Switzerland, Japan, Singapore and the U.K.
One of her recent Nimbus releases, with the pianist Adrian Farmer, is a double album called The Songs of Mathilde de Rothschild which showcase the beautiful French and German songs of her talented ancestor who was a pupil of Chopin. (NI5903/4).
Whilst in America Charlotte and Danielle premièred another new programme at the National Gallery of Art in Washington given in honour of the Joan Mirò exhibition. This year her concert schedule will take her to Japan, Malaysia, Russia and Australia.
Adrian Farmer studied at the Royal Northern College of Music and Birmingham University, England. He has recorded with Nimbus as early as 1979 before becoming a record producer for the company. He later became Nimbus’ Musical Director and a Member of the Board of Directors.
He has made several recordings for Nimbus including with Nimbus’ founder, the bass Shura Gehrman and with other artists such as tenor, Dennis O’Neill, pianists Nina Walker and Martin Jones as well the legendary pianist, Vlado Perlmuter
Mirages, Op.113 (1919) sets texts by Renée Baronne de Brimont. Charlotte de Rothschild has a youthful sounding voice that suits this repertoire well. In the reflective, gentle Cygnes sur l’eau (Swan on the water), Both Rothschild and Farmer realise so much of the Gallic atmosphere of this gorgeous song. Rothschild seems to have a natural affinity with these songs and, with Reflets dans l’eau (Reflections in the water), she brings a most affective rise and fall, beautiful y controlled.
In the evocative Jardin nocturne (Nocturnal garden), de Rothschild shows the varying timbres of her fine voice, keeping a lovely flow. The striking piano rhythm of Danseuse (Dancer) is finely done with de Rothschild rising beautifully in the intense moments of this song.
The poet, Paul Verlaine provides the texts for Cinq melodies ‘de Vénise’, Op.58 (1891) (Five melodies 'of Venice'). The collection opens with Mandoline, bringing a lighter, more sprightly feel, though still revealing an atmosphere that is more French than Venetian. The calm, gentle En sourdine (Muted) receives a lovely performance, with de Rothschild adding just a degree of emotion with some beautifully hushed passages. There are some lovely, flowing passages from Adrian Farmer.
The livelier Green is brilliantly done, with de Rothschild rising beautifully to the climaxes as well as all the little nuances. With A Clymène (To Clymène) de Rothschild again reveals fine control as well as a variety of subtle timbres or textures that add so much to these songs. With C’est l’extase (It is rapture) this soprano again shows how she is able to finely shape these songs, responding to every little subtlety – so French.
Fine control is brought to Paradis the opening song from the substantial song cycle, La Chanson d’Eve, Op.95 (1906-10), (The Song of Eve) a setting of texts by Charles Van Lerberghe portraying the dawn of creation. de Rothschild handles the somewhat difficult word setting so well with some exquisite playing from Farmer. Prima verba (First words) is another lovely song, beautifully realised by de Rothschild and Farmer with the text ‘Limpid air of paradise, With your ruby clusters, With your sheaves of light, With your roses and your fruits.’ is so well conjured.
The delicate Roses ardentes (Fiery roses) is a lovely song, sung with fine control, de Rothschild rising to the climax brilliantly. Both artists handle all the little turns of Comme Dieu rayonne (How radiant God is) perfectly before a very fine L’Aube blanche (The white dawn).
After the difficult setting of Eau vivante (spring water), wonderfully realised, we have the no less challenging Veilles-tu, ma senteur de soleil? (Are you awake, my aroma of sun) with its difficult vocal part, so well sung combined with a tricky, rhythmic piano motive.
The very fine Dans un parfum de roses blanches (In a perfume of white roses) brings some lovely singing from de Rothschild before a beautiful performance of the exquisite Créspuscule (Twilight) so sensitive and full of subtlety. The darker Ô mort, poussière d’étoiles (O death, stardust) makes an impressive end to this cycle of songs, with Charlotte de Rothschild extracting so much feeling and finely accompanied by Adrian Farmer.
There is a softer, exquisite setting of Dans la forêt de Septembre, Op.85. No.1 (1902) (In the September Forest) to a text by Catulle Mendès, to which de Rothschild brings much beauty, control, superb timbres and feeling for the text with exquisite accompaniment from Farmer as, indeed, they do for the beautiful Accompagnement, Op.85 No.3 (1902) (Accompaniment) to a text by Albert Samain.
Le Don silencieux, Op.92 (1906) (The silent gift) a setting of texts by Marie Closset, is another harmonically difficult song so well handled by de Rothschild. A text by Paul Verlaine is again used in Spleen, Op.51 No.3 (1888), a lovely setting, with a lovely rippling accompaniment, beautifully sung by de Rothschild – a mesmerising song.
Finally we have a flowing, joyous La Rose, Op.51 No.4 (1890) set to texts by Leconte de Lisle to conclude this disc.
Charlotte de Rothschild seems ideally suited to this repertoire, in the gentler songs providing a particularly lovely French, youthful timbre. Add to this the particularly sensitive accompaniment from Adrian Farmer and you have a disc that will bring much pleasure.
Adrian Farmer provides excellent booklet notes and they are finely recorded at Wyastone Leys, Monmouth, UK. Full texts, English translations and text précis are provided.