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Hyperion Records

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Photograph of Kate Royal by Malcolm Crowthers
Track(s) taken from CDJ33110
Recording details: May 2006
All Saints' Church, East Finchley, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Mark Brown
Engineered by Julian Millard
Release date: November 2007
Total duration: 1 minutes 48 seconds

'Royal's pure, pellucid tone, free-soaring top notes and refined musicianship give constant pleasure … abetted by Johnson's ever-sentient keyboard-playing, Royal reveals a true understanding of Schumann's Innigkeit … in the final 'Frülingsnacht', often rushed off its feet, she and Johnson catch the elusive mix of secretiveness and ecstasy as perfectly as I have heard' (Gramophone)

'In the Liederkries, Kate Royal, discerningly partnered by Johnson, sings with pure, luminous tone and eloquent phrasing … there are many memorable things here, including a hushed, rapt 'Mondnacht', and a truly ecstatic final 'Frülingsnacht' (The Daily Telegraph)

'Volume 10 … has as its centerpiece a wonderful rendition by Kate Royal of Liederkreis, Ms Royal … again delivers a performance that is remarkable for its intelligence, musicianship, and sheer beauty' (American Record Guide)

'Much of the singing is exceptionally lovely … 'Waldegespräch' amply displays the dramatic flair one expects of a fine operatic artist … Johnson accompanies with his wonted sensitivity and his booklet notes are, as usual, exhaustive in their detail … the engineering is immaculate' (International Record Review)

'This wonderful disc feels like an intimate salon performance by a group of close friends … Liederkries is sung with devotion … by rising wonder-woman Kate Royal … glorious duetting from Lott and Murray, ensemble fun from all the singers and a glimpse of Schumann towards the end of his tragic life in the Mädchenlieder—you don't realise how much you're learning about the composer's genius until it's all over' (Classic FM Magazine)

'Royal's professed affinity for the Lieder repertoire is more than borne out by the recording of Schumann's Eichendorff Liederkreis―[she] gives us everything: hers is a beautifully sung and deeply flet rendition from beginning to end, her specific responses to the words and their meaning never, ever becoming intrusive―the ideal balance of what one wants in performances of this cycle' (Fanfare, USA)

'A stunning achievement for Kate Royal, and another well-deserved feather in the Hyperion cap as this enthralling series continues … Kate Royal tones down some of her interpretations to reflect the genuinely intimate and reflectively pensive music to great effect, lovingly adjusting her voice to the needs of each word … highest recommendation' (Audiophile Audition, USA)

'The program opens with the undervalued Liederkreis cycle … Royal infuses these brief intuitions of forest walks, foreign lands and a 'Moonlit Night' with a glowing musical poetry. Even the sparest, quietest songs hold a sense of vigor and wondrous apprehension' (San Francisco Chronicle)

Bei Schenkung eines Flügels, WoO26 No 4
First line:
Die Orange und Myrthe hier
20 August 1853
author of text

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
This little quartet-setting of Schumann’s own words (four solo voices and piano) gives us a glimpse into a touching moment, one of the last, in the composer’s domestic life in Düsseldorf: the consecration of a piano that Schumann had bought his wife as a present for her thirty-fourth birthday, 13 September 1853; the couple’s thirteenth wedding anniversary had been celebrated the day before. The new piano was manufactured by the firm of Klems in Düsseldorf. It was clearly an occasion for which the composer had carefully planned, quite apart from the cost of such a handsome present. The poem had already been written as far in advance as 5 July. Gentle arpeggios in the key of E major (the marking is In ruhigem Tempo) ripple beneath writing for SATB quartet that is demanding enough to have required a certain amount of secret rehearsal time—who exactly the performers were we do not know. The style is that of the later songs and chamber music without displaying the musical sense of purpose of the earlier years. On this festive occasion Clara received as gifts manuscripts of the Overture for the Szenen aus Faust, the Fantasie for violin and orchestra Op 131, and the Concert Allegro for piano and orchestra Op 134—all these works had been deliberately hidden from her until they could be presented to her as part of her birthday celebration. The extent of Schumann’s devotion to his wife, and his conviction that his more recent works were only possible because of her inspiration, are evident in a letter the composer wrote at the time to the violinist Joseph Joachim.

This was to be the last of Clara’s birthdays celebrated by the Schumann clan as a united family. A year later, in September 1854, tragedy had already struck, and life had changed irrevocably: on Clara’s thirty-fifth birthday the composer was given permission by the medical staff at the asylum of Endenich to write her a letter. The strange little poem gives some clue regarding Schumann’s strangely prophetic misgivings about his future. Even if he can’t be there personally, he hopes that the piano will serve to remind Clara of the giver of the gift. She was probably as disquieted by the poem as she was delighted by the piano. It was indeed to come in useful. With Schumann in the asylum she had no choice but to re-establish her career as a virtuoso. Every time she practised she must have remembered the little scene where the piano, surrounded by a garland of flowers, was handed over to her while this music, so lovingly meant, so awkward in its mild reticence, rang in her ears.

from notes by Graham Johnson © 2007

Other albums featuring this work
'Schumann: The Complete Songs' (CDS44441/50)
Schumann: The Complete Songs
MP3 £35.00FLAC £35.00ALAC £35.00Buy by post £38.50 CDS44441/50  10CDs Boxed set (at a special price)  
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