Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Soprano, Sunhae Im’s first recital disc of Italian and French cantatas for Harmonia Mundi is a triumph

South Korean soprano, www.sunhaeim.com studied at the Seoul National University under the guidance of Lokyung Pak and at the University of Karlsruhe under Roland Hermann. She made her European stage debut in 2000 and since then her operatic engagements have taken her to La Monnaie, Brussels and the Berliner Staatsoper im Schillertheater.

At the beginning of the 2013/14 season Sunhae Im can be seen as Dorinda in a new staging of Handel`s Orlando in Rennes, Brest, Versailles and at the Théâtre du Capitole de Toulouse.

Further engagements will take her to Amsterdam and Rotterdam for Brahms’ Requiem, to France for Mozart’s Requiem, to Brussels, Paris, Madrid and Crakow for Handel’s La Resurrezione, to the Kölner Philharmonie and the Salle Pleyel Paris with Handel’s Orlando, to the Wiener Musikverein and the Palais des Beaux-Arts Brussels for Bach’s Weihnachtsoratorium. She has also been invited to perform Mozart with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra in Pittsburgh and at the Carnegie Hall, New York. In Berlin she will do a Christmas programme with the Deutsche Symphony Orchestra.

Sunhae Im has been invited to renowned festivals such as the Edinburgh International Festival, Mostly Mozart Festival, Salzburg Festival and Haydn International Festival and has worked with the New York Philharmonic, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and the Munich Philharmonic. She has worked with conductors such as Philippe Herreweghe, William Christie, Fabio Biondi, Thomas Hengelbrock, Herbert Blomstedt, Frans Brüggen, Giovanni Antonini, Iván Fischer, Kent Nagano, Riccardo Chailly, Lothar Zagrosek, Sylvain Cambreling, Ton Koopman, Marek Janowski, and René Jacobs. Many of Sunhae Im`s recordings have received awards.

She has also close ties to the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin as well as the Freiburger Barockorchester.

It is with the Akademie für Alte Musik, Berlin www.akamus.de  that Sunhae Im has made her first recital disc for Harmonia Mundi www.harmoniamundi.com/#/home  of Italian and French cantatas on the theme of Orpheus and Eurydice.

HMC 902189
Sunhae Im brings an immediate sense of operatic feeling and drama to the Recitativo - Nel chiuso centro of Giovanni Battista Pergolesi’s (1710-1736) Orfeo, cantata for soprano, strings and basso continuo (c.1735),  revealing a voice full of strength and drama yet with a sweetness of tone that is completely beguiling. The Aria Euridice, e dove sei? is finely characterised with beautifully shaped accompaniment from the Akademie für Alte Musik, Berlin.

There is a wonderfully wrought, dramatic, deeply felt Recitativo - Sì, che pietà non v'è with the Aria - O d’Euridice bringing beautifully long held phrases. There is some fine incisive playing from the Akademie für Alte Musik with some wonderfully controlled livelier passages from Im that contrast with moments of fine pathos.

With Louis Nicolas Clerambault’s (1676-1749) Orphée, cantata for soprano and chamber orchestra (1710) the Récitatif - Le fameux chantre de la Thrace and Air tendre et piqué - Fidèles échos de ces bois there are some particularly lovely instrumental passages with Sunhae Im bringing much fine expression to the aria.

She brings much drama and beauty to the Récitatif - Mais que sert à mon désespoir with a lovely buoyant, sprung instrumental passage leading into the aria where her singing is never routine, following every rhythmic turn.

There is such a finely shaped Récitatif Cependant le héros arrive before exquisite instrumental sounds lead into the Air fort lent et fort tender - Monarque redouté to which Im adds her beautiful pure toned voice blending wonderfully with the Akademie für Alte Musik. She develops moments of fine textures as the aria moves forward, full of passion as well as a lovely youthful sounding charm. In the moments of pathos this fine soprano finds every emotion.

The Récitatif - Pluton surpris d'entendre is brought alive by Sunhae Im, drawing moments of fine power whilst the Air gai - Chantez la victoire éclatante reveals many aspects of her fine voice, with some lovely, richer timbres as well as great flexibility, sailing over all the little decorations with consummate ease.

The Akademie für Alte Musik bring some lovely textures to the Introduzione of Alessandro Scarlatti’s  (1660-1725) L'Orfeo, cantata a voce sola con violini with a lovely lightness of touch and fine precision. When Sunhae Im enters for the Recitativo - Dall'oscura magion she brings some absolutely terrific drama as she tells of Opheus bringing back the dead Eurydice from the underworld. The Aria - Chi m'invola la cara Euridice has some very fine instrumental passages with this soprano providing a fine sonorous textures, beautifully done.

Im brings real passion to the Recitativo - Ma di chi mi querelo and in the Aria - Se mirando, occhi perversi her passion is palpable. Im is absolutely terrific, full of strength, passion, accuracy and flexibility.

For the Recitativo - Or poiché mi trader, Im holds a fine balance between anger and quieter passion before a nicely paced instrumental entry to the Aria - Sordo il tronco where this soprano brings a superbly controlled voice, velvet textures, such pure sounds against the gently rhythmic orchestra with occasional outbursts of passion.

After the brief Recitativo - Ah, voi m'abbandonate that has a fine rhythmic bounce, the Aria - Il vanto del canto brings lovely turned phrases. There is more fine dynamic singing from this soprano in the Recitativo - Così dicendo il gran cantor often with just a lute accompaniment before the fine Aria - Sì, pietà de' miei martiri where Im brings some terrific singing as she tautly follows every turn.

Jean-Philippe Rameau’s (1683-1764) Orphée, cantata for soprano and "symphony" (flute & strings) opens with a beautifully judged Récitatif - Par le charme vainqueur, with Sunhae Im again bringing this recitative to life with so many nuances. There is a lovely instrumental opening to the Ai - Que du bruit de tes hauts exploits before Im brings her very fine voice responding so well to the Akademie’s instrumental accompaniment, full of strength yet with a beautiful tone.

The Récitatif - Mais son âme sensible brings such passion from this soprano, so operatic, rising with real strength before the Air - J'ai pour témoin de ma victoire.

À ce penser flatteur (Récitatif) brings some terrific deep string timbres from the Akademie and as the Air - Amour, c'est toi qui fais mon crime arrives there are lovely instrumental textures before Sunhae Im brings a tremendous passion as each repeat of ‘Amour’ brings its own variety of feeling.

There is more fine characterisation in the Récitatif - Inutiles regrets as Im sings ‘Vain regrets! All abandon him forever.’ Before the Air - En amour il est un moment is introduced by a lovely combination of instrumental sounds, so French. This soprano brings an uplifting cheer in a really wonderful concluding aria with Sunhae Im’s skilful shaping and characterisation. Absolutely superb.


Sunhae Im’s first recital disc for Harmonia Mundi is a triumph, a really fine collection of 18th century cantatas, brilliantly performed. The fine contribution from the Akademie für Alte Musik, Berlin adds much to these performances. With an excellent detailed recording, informative booklet notes and full texts and translations this is a highly recommendable release.

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