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Friday, November 6, 2015

Richard Wagner, Wesendonck-Lieder, Edward Elgar, Sea Pictures, etc. Sarah Rose Taylor, Nigel Potts

When you listen to music over a lifetime, some of it becomes like "old friends," ever-generating of significant time spent, ever renewing. I suppose I would say that of Richard Wagner's "Wesendonck-Lieder," which I still have an old London LP of that I bought now long ago, as sung by the inimitable Kirsten Flagstad.

Old friends like that can change a bit over time, not only in how you hear the music, but in new performances. Today mezzo-soprano Sarah Rose Taylor with Nigel Potts at the organ, give us a notable version, along with Sir Edward Elgar's "Sea Pictures" and etc. (MSR 1532).

Wagner and Elgar go well together, no surprise there. Both works were intended for something other than organ, the "Wesendonck" for solo piano but later orchestrated in full by Felix Mottl, the "Sea Pictures" for orchestra. Added to the program is Wagner's "Prelude" from "Tristan und Isolde," fitting since parts of the "Wesendonck" were reworked for that opera (notably the Love Scene). Also added is "The Angel's Farewell" from Elgar's "The Dream of Gerontius." It all goes together quite nicely here.

Grace Cloutier joins Potts on harp for parts of the "Prelude" and "Sea Pictures." Both she and Potts are in excellent form, but ultimately this is a spotlight for Sarah Rose Taylor. She has a very beautful mezzo-soprano voice, filled with lyrical tenderness and power as needed. I am very impressed with her vocal artistry.

Ms. Taylor's ravishing voice, the organ (and harp) arrangements and the Potts/Cloutier realizations of these exceptional works make this program a very special one. This is music of a fleeting eternity of moments in lives and the mood is captured with a touching resonance on this disk.

It is unforgettable and Sarah Rose Taylor is a marvel!

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