Reviews, News and Commentary

Morgen. Songs for Cello and Piano

Morgen, Songs for Cello and Piano

Andrew Joyce (cello)

Rae de Lisle (piano)

Atoll Records

RRP $30.00

With their new recording “Morgen” pianist Rae de Lisle and cellist Andrew Joyce have created a splendid arrangement of twenty-two songs by a range of composers for cello and piano. The selected works are well-chosen, and all take on their new instrumental cloaks superbly.

The cello’s range has often been noted as similar to the range of the human voice with the lowest cello note at the bottom range of a basso profundo and high notes that match that of a diva coloratura.

De Lisle and Joyce manage the transformations wonderfully, able to have the pieces sound so close to that of the human voice that often one can feel one is listening to a singer rather than an instrument.

The works include songs by Brahms, Dvorak, Schumann and Strauss as well as arias by Catalani and Korngold. They all deal with love, mainly that between a man and a woman but some are more atmospheric and there is a lullaby by Brahms.

Throughout these works it is the cello that takes on the melodic line of the singer expressing the emotional richness of the work displaying both the angelic and tragic. De Lisle’s piano provides a solid foundation as well as adding depth.

They pieces range from the sweet “Minneleid” by Brahms through the ecstatic “A Chloris” by Reynaldo Hahn to Catalan’s more tragic “Edden? Ne andro Iontana”.

The opening group of Brahms songs are a mix of the melancholic and lyrical, full of sweet sadness. As with many collections of such songs they are individually very moving, collectively they lose their power, so it is best to listen to them one at a time.

Cellist and pianist carefully shaped each song, balancing their sounds so carefully at times they seem to be more in harmony than a singer and pianist might be. This creates a great sense of intimacy and emotion.

Throughout the pieces one senses de Lisle and Joyce understanding the links between the vocal / melodic line and the accompaniment. The piano plays an important role in providing the tensions and contrasts necessary to fully appreciate the subtleties of several of the pieces such as Dvorak’s soulful “Lasst mich allein”.

Korngold’s “Marietta’s Lied”, from his opera Die tote Stadt is the most contemporary of the works premiering in 1920. The opera’s theme of the loss of a loved one was particularly relevant to a Europe which had suffered widespread loss during World War I, but the work can now be interpreted in terms of sexual obsessions and disillusioned sacrifice. This poignancy was revealed by the perceptive playing of the duo.

In three of the pieces including Strauss’ “Morgen”, Joyce and de Lisle and joined by Joyce’s daughter Julia playing the viola which adds a subtle layer to the pieces

The programme notes accompanying the CD provide a fine narrative linking the works to their original songs.

By johndpart

Arts reviewer for thirty years with the National Business Review

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