Cherry Ripe

Michael Magnusson
On Stage and Walls Melbourne (Australia)

This release could be a continuation of Richard Bonynge’s exploration of the art and repertoire of the Prima Donna during the 18th and 19th centuries exemplified in the many recordings featuring his famous wife, Joan Sutherland, picking up where they left off when Sutherland retired. In his notes to the twenty-one items Bonynge links the composers and music to specific singers, even if not always a bona fide prima donna (as is the case with James Hook’s song ‘The Nightingale’ which Bonynge reveals was premiered by a boy soprano, one Master Walsh)...

Although dealing with cancer Deborah Riedel maintained an international singing career over the last decade. Sadly she died in January this year, 18 months after recording the present album. My last experience with her as a singer was her as soprano soloist in a Melbourne Symphony Orchestra performance of the Vaughan Williams A Sea Symphony in April 2006. Riedel's early career was marked by a bright and very flexible voice that was shown to its best advantage in one of her first important assignments, Marguerite in Gounod’s Faust. That same brightness was still apparent in the Vaughan Williams, joined by a powerful thrust that made her excursions into the dramatic soprano repertoire understandable. Considering her circumstances at the time of the recording Riedel’s voice is elegantly controlled with some really nice, fine detail. Like Sutherland’s, Riedel’s voice also attained darker, dramatic colouring but retaining a pleasant sounding smoothness ...

A ‘boutique’ label, Melba recordings can also offer equally boutique packaging, often with booklets that resemble a pocket-sized novella ... As the composers are largely forgotten the booklet notes, by Bonynge, are informative and well researched ... To have a CD coming with a booklet at all, let alone one with so many pages of tracking information, is getting to be a luxury.