Charlotte Margiono Sings RICHARD WAGNER: Wesendonck Lieder & Arias – Limburg Symphony Orchestra, Maastricht, Netherlands/Ed Spanjaard – PentaTone

by | Feb 19, 2007 | SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

Charlotte Margiono Sings RICHARD WAGNER: Wesendonck Lieder & Arias – Limburg Symphony Orchestra, Maastricht, Netherlands/Ed Spanjaard – PentaTone Multichannel SACD 5186 077,  59:23 ***:

This recital by the Dutch soprano Charlotte Margiono is a hybrid in more ways than one. Technically, of course, it plays in both surround sound and two channels; but more than that, it has been put together without chronological order, and, inexplicably, the two Lohengrin excerpts are far apart (the prelude to Act 1 is in track 1, and Elsa’s dream in track 7). There is some compensation for this disorder in that the Prelude to Act 1 of Tristan und Isolde is followed seamlessly, and very effectively, by the “Liebestod,” as if they were all of a piece.

Technical issues aside, Wagner aficionados will delight in the superb sound of the disc – even accessing the hybrid CD option – and the shimmery conducting of Ed Spanjaard. The Lohengrin prelude, for example, is played with great sensitivity and lyricism, and the soaring music of the woodwinds near the end is filled with both melancholy and nobility.

When Margiono starts her recital with the Wesendonck Lieder (orchestration by Felix Mottl), one is immediately struck by her large, supple voice and pure tone. Her honeyed notes are filled with devotion, and unlike some singers in the much-lamented 1980s and 1990s, she seems more concerned with the music’s innerlich quality than with correct technique. In addition, she has a good sense of tempi and dramatic action. Her “Schmerzen” is full-bodied, with much color and variety in texture and cadence. There are some small intonation problems, however, and with a little more attention to details, this soprano should be a first-rate singer.

In the “Liebestod,” surely a severe test for any Wagnerian soprano, Margiono treads too lightly, as though she is still singing the more ethereal Elsa. Spanjaard, too, holds back, with muted results. Margiono’s voice is somewhat amorphous here and needs more definition. A bit of reining it in here and there, tightening loose corners, and losing some slight inaccuracies would improve matters. The orchestra, however, supports the soprano well. Elisabeth’s prayer is sung with great tenderness and lyricism, leading one to conclude that Margiono seems more at home with the innocent, virginal heroines like Elsa and Elisabeth than with the passionate Isolde or Sieglinde.

This affecting performance augurs well for the young soprano. The SACD comes with the German libretti and their English translations.

– Dalia Geffen

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