Thursday 23 October 2014

Elina Garanca - Meditation

Elina Garanca
Meditation; Elina Garanca, Deutsche Radio Philharmonie Saarbrucken Kaiserslautern, Karel Mark Chichon; Deutsche Gramophon
Reviewed by Robert Hugill on Sep 30 2014
Star rating: 3.0

Quite personal selection of music, beautifully sung

This new disc from mezzo-soprano Elina Garanca, Karel Mark Chichon and the Deutsche Radio Philharmonie Saarbrucken Kaiserslautern on Deutsche Grammophon is entitled Meditation and features a potentially interesting intersection between the operatic and the sacred, with music by Gounod, Mascagni, Mozart, Bizet, Puccini, Allegri and Adolphe Adam, with contemporary works by Ugis Praulins and Peteris Vasks.

In a sense the title of the disc is misleading, much of the music is not meditative but passionate and operatic. There are sacred works by operatic composers, Gounod's Sanctus from his St Cecilia Mass, and his sacred song Repentir, the Laudate Dominum from Mozart's Vesperae solennes de confessore, Adolphe Adam's Christmas song Cantique de Noel, and Puccini's Salve Regina, which is also strictly a sacred song. Added to these are works arranged from music by operatic composers, an Agnus Dei by Bizet, an Ave Maria arranged from the Intermezzo from Mascagni's Ave Maria.

More problematical is the changing of the text of the Easter Hymn from Cavalleria Rusticana by turning it into a Regina coeli, why could it not have been performed as it is. Also something on oddity is the arrangement by Latvian composer Eriks Esenvalds of Allegri's Miserere which enables Garanca to sing the high soprano solo (now a high A, instead of a high C). Though as this traditional version is something of an arrangement itself, such liberties are possible. We also have an arrangement by Vladimir Vavilov of the Ave Maria which is attributed to Giulio Caccini, though Vavilov's arrangement is far more Vavilov than Caccini.

Finally there are group of works by composers linked to Garanca, either from her native Latvia or friends. These include Dievines, setting a Latvian traditional text by Ugis Praulins, two of Peteris Vasks's Silent Songs (these are sung by the Latvian Radio Choir) and an Ave Maria by William Gomez who was a friend of Garanca's husband, the conductor Karel Mark Chichon.

All the music is superbly performed and the disc shows of the creamy beauty of Garanca's voice to perfection. She sings fluently and flexibly, with a nice lightness to the upper register. So, audibly we have a lovely disc, but I keep coming back to the selection of music. The contemporary items by Praulins and Gomez are verging on the pop classical and perhaps that is what is intended. This seems to have been a very personal project for Garanca and Chichon, and it may appeal to those who want to put the disc on and relax in the warm bath of Garanca's voice.

Charles Gounod (1818 - 1893) - Sanctus from Messe solennelle en l'honneur de sainte Cecile
Charles Gounod (1818 - 1893) - Repentir
Ugis Praulins (born 1957) - Dievaines, adapted by Anna Barry and Karel Mark Chichon
Pietro Mascagni (1863 - 1945) - Regina coeli laetare
Pietro Mascagni (1863 - 1945) - Ave Maria, arranged by Karel Mark Chichon
William Gomez (1939 - 2000) - Ave Maria, arranged by Adrian Pop
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 - 1791) - Laudate Dominum
Georges Bizet (1838 - 1879) - Agnus Dei, arranged by Ernest Guiraud and Karel Mark Chichon
Giacomo Puccini (1858 - 1924) - Salve Regina
Adolphe Adam (1803 - 1856) - Cantique de Noel, arranged by Douglas Gamley and Karel Mark Chichon
Peteris Vasks (born 1946) - Dusi dusi
Peteris Vasks (born 1946) - Paldies tev vela saule
Gergorio Allegro (1582 - 1652) - Miserere, arranged Eriks Esenvalds
Vladimir Vavilov (1925 - 1973), attr. Giulio Caccini (1551 - 1618) - Ave Maria, Karel Mark Chichon
Elina Garanca (mezzo-soprano)
Latvian Radio Choir
Members of the Opernchor Saarbrucken
Deutsche Radio Philharmonie Saarbrucken Kaiserslautern
Karel Mark Chichon (conductor)
Recorded October 2013, Grosser Sendesaal, Saarlandischer Rundfunk, Saarbrucken.
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