Catriona Morison - The dark night has vanished - American Record Guide

Morison is a young Scottish mezzo (b. 1986) with several accomplishments already under her belt; she won the Main Singer award in the 2017 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition and has already been awarded an honorary professorship at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. More important, though, is her voice—an exceptionally beautiful instrument with excellent technique. It's the kind of voice you never tire from hearing. Here we have an interesting collection of lieder, with only the Brahms among the very familiar. Most of Grieg's songs were settings of Norwegian texts, but he also set German texts (and we should remember he studied in Leipzig). The nicely varied set here is very attractive and deserves to be heard more often (though there is a fine recording by Anne Sofie von Otter). The Brahms are all on the map and need no special pleading: `Dein blaues Auge', `Immer leiser', `Sapphische Ode', and so forth; many of Brahms's songs are particularly effective with lower voices, and these are indeed wonderful with Morison. The published works of Josephine Lang (1815-80) consisted almost entirely of songs and piano music. Her songs here are very fine, with interesting piano writing that shows welcome independence from the vocal line. Her music, supported by both Mendelssohn and Schumann, warrants more attention. It is, by the way, the first line of her `Gestern und Heute' that became the title for this release ("Die dunkle Nacht ist nun entschwunden"). Schumann's set came not from his "song year" (1840), but from his later outpouring of song in 1850. These have texts by Nikolaus Lenau, who Schumann (mistakenly) thought had died in 1849. A spirit of valediction runs through these pieces, and Schumann added a final song, `Requiem', as a tribute to Lenau. If you are drawn to lieder, I would urge this on you, both for the lesser-known repertory and for the wonderful singing of Morison. Her voice is beautifully even, top to bottom, and she has control at all dynamic levels; indeed, her soft singing is invariably lovely. It's still too early to tell if she will become another Janet Baker, but she bears watching. I should also mention that Malcolm Martineau is ever the first-rate accompanist.

American Record Guide
01 August 2021