Cherry Ripe

Philippe Ponthir
Forum Opera (France)

‘Richard’s last delicacies’

At the same time that they’re announcing the slow and very sad death throes of the legendary Decca company, Richard Bonynge reminds us of his constantly curious and active enthusiasm, in spite of him being almost 80 …

Richard has expressed his support for a very small Australian label, Melba Recordings. His projects have followed his passions—ballet music and rarities that he exhumes in the form of recitals. The last of these is equally testament to the opera singer Deborah Riedel who died in January 2009. A quick glance over the program and one can see it is generously filled with rarities and other curiosities … we confess deliciously that we have derived enormous pleasure from this recording and is that not the essential point? To offer an emotion? An interpretive shock? To reveal a personality beyond the norm? Or simply to offer an hour of vocal happiness, helping us pass the time so positively? The last case best reflects our reactions.

This recording, very well made in terms of balance and clarity, putting the singer into the spotlight without resorting to trickery, is a great success. One discovers—or rediscovers—themes or aesthetics giving us insight into the taste of a bygone age. Bonynge is always the born aristocrat that we’ve known for more than 40 years and … the conductor never wearies, varies the emphases, shaping the very agreeable surprise that is the Arcadia Lane Orchestra.

Riedel was a superb lyric soprano, typical of the Anglo-Saxon school … one notes the superb tone, as creamy as one could wish … a dramatic engagement at all times and a sincerity that is quite disarming. In the end, a unique, timeless recording, aimed at the most curious … amongst us.