Songs

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Philip Koslow
Magdalena Kozená is quickly establishing herself as a major artist, by dint of her limpid, silvery voice and her restless musical intelligence. Having already proved her mettle in repertory ranging from 18th-century arias to Czech art songs to Bach choral works to French opera, the Czech-born mezzo-soprano now tackles the 20th century, essaying the works of five different composers, in five different languages. The result is a gorgeous album that displays all the singer's vocal skills and dramatic flair. Kozená begins by exploring the ripe eroticism of Ravel's Chansons madécasses Madagascan Songs, evoking the bloom of desire even in "Aoua!," ostensibly a cri de coeur ...
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Philip Koslow
Magdalena Kozená is quickly establishing herself as a major artist, by dint of her limpid, silvery voice and her restless musical intelligence. Having already proved her mettle in repertory ranging from 18th-century arias to Czech art songs to Bach choral works to French opera, the Czech-born mezzo-soprano now tackles the 20th century, essaying the works of five different composers, in five different languages. The result is a gorgeous album that displays all the singer's vocal skills and dramatic flair. Kozená begins by exploring the ripe eroticism of Ravel's Chansons madécasses Madagascan Songs, evoking the bloom of desire even in "Aoua!," ostensibly a cri de coeur assailing European colonizers. She then pitches into Shostakovich's Satires in tones that are alternately sly, raucous, and biting, communicating the lyrics' jaundiced view of life with obvious relish. But the true revelation here is the album's centerpiece, Respighi's 15-minute La tramonta The Sunset, based on a poem by Shelley. Here the mood shifts to romantic melancholy; Kozená conveys sorrow, longing, and resignation through heart-stopping vocal inflections that transcend mere technical facility, entering an interpretive realm inhabited by legends such as Callas and Schwarzkopf. Wisely, the rest of the program is less freighted with emotion, consisting of Erwin Schulhoff's lyrical Drei Stimmungsbilder Three Atmospheric Portraits and Benjamin Britten's sprightly Charm of Lullabies. Variations in accompaniment --from Malcolm Martineau's incisive piano work to the brooding strains of the Henschel Quartet in the Respighi -- add further complexity and interest. The only uncertainty posed by these performances would be: Are they best enjoyed in a single sitting as a widely varied concert, or best savored in sections as five mini-recitals? The best way to decide is to try both methods repeatedly, something that owners of this disc will consider an easy assignment.
Gramophone - Richard Fairman
Kozená's mezzo is a young gazelle of a voice, soaring up into soprano territory as easily as Anne Sofie von Otter or Susan Graham, and it takes very kindly to the recording process. There is not a moment on this disc when the tone sounds strained or its beauty manufactured.... Did anybody say 20th-century songs were difficult to enjoy? Here is a disc where they cast a spell of enchantment.
Time Out New York - Daniel Felsenfeld
The recital succeeds on the sheer beauty of Kozená's voice. Her light-hued, dewily focused tone is tantalizing and attractive, her capacity for emotive variety prodigious. Given her rare combination of precision, range and boldness, it's no wonder Kozená is securing a major place on the world stage.
Atlanta Journal Constitution - Pierre Ruhe
Kozená is smart and literate -- or at least sings that way -- and she's alert to the nuances of storytelling. In Ravel's "Il est doux," part of the exotic "Madagascan Songs" [Chansons madécasses], Kozená makes the tale personal. She sings the line "dancing is for me/almost as nice as a kiss" like it's the private recollection of a secret tryst of long ago, a memory that still tingles. It comes as a flash of introspection, where a lesser artist would have been content to skate the music's surface beauty. [Grade: A]

The recital succeeds on the sheer beauty of Kozená's voice. Her light-hued, dewily focused tone is tantalizing and attractive, her capacity for emotive variety prodigious. Given her rare combination of precision, range and boldness, it's no wonder Kozená is securing a major place on the world stage.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 7/13/2004
  • Label: Dg Imports
  • UPC: 028947158127
  • Catalog Number: 471581
  • Sales rank: 158,107

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1 Chansons madécasses, song cycle for soprano voice, flute, cello & piano - Maurice Ravel & Nikolaus Boddin (14:48)
  2. 2 Satires (5), for soprano & piano, Op. 109 - Dmitry Shostakovich & Nikolaus Boddin (14:50)
  3. 3 Il tramonto (The Sunset), for voice & string quartet/string orchestra, P. 101 - Ottorino Respighi & Nikolaus Boddin (15:26)
  4. 4 Stimmungsbilder (3), Op 12/ WV 30 - Erwin Schulhoff & Nikolaus Boddin (6:08)
  5. 5 A Charm of Lullabies, song cycle for mezzo soprano & piano, Op. 41 - Benjamin Britten & William Blake (12:35)
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
Magdalena Kozená Primary Artist
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