Sarah Connolly is a mezzo-soprano noted for performing many operatic roles and for appearing frequently in concert with major orchestras.
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Classical - Released July 6, 2018 | Chandos
Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Gramophone Editor's Choice
Alright, so perhaps "120 years of the melodies of the Royal College of Music" is a bit of a stretch, given that the first of the composers to study here was Thomas Dunhill in 1893, and the last was Anthony Turnage in 1982, but as he is now a teacher there, we can perhaps let that go. In any case, Sarah Connolly's magnificent selection of English songs from throughout the 20th and early 21st centuries bears witness to the richness of the English melodic stage: Britten of course, Holst, Somervell, Gurney and Tippett are among the more famous, including beyond Britain's shores; but also there are some rather better-kept, but essential, secrets in the form of Morean, Rebecca Clarke, Stanford, Bridge and Parry: all of which make for quite a trip through time. Note that the album contains three discographic world firsts, one of which is fairly obvious – Farewell by Turnage, written especially for Sarah Connolly, for this recordings – and another stupefying, two mélodies by Britten, which the composer had first conceived for his magical 1947 Charm of Lullabies and left to one side, because it was his habit, in his melodic cycles, to do a bit more than required in order to later have the option of pruning some back. These two lullabies remained in the manuscript. They were fairly difficult to decipher, but still clear enough that they have finally been brought out of their Sleeping Beauty suspended animation, sixty years on. We should add that Connolly's rich and sumptuous voice, delicately accompanied by Joseph Middleton, works wonders with this exquisite repertoire. © SM/Qobuz
Classical - Released October 4, 2011 | Chandos
Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Hi-Res Audio
Sarah Connolly will probably win many hearts with this stellar album of English songs, My True Love Hath My Heart, and the same could be said for her accompanist Malcolm Martineau, who is a fabulous interpreter as well. Connolly's technique is seemingly flawless, and her mezzo-soprano is clean, crisp, and bright, yet full. Add to this excellent diction, and the results are interpretations that may well be definitive for years to come. British greats like Benjamin Britten are featured, and the four songs chosen here are probably familiar to many listeners. Early one morning sounds the most archaic in its character, as if influenced by Handel or the Baroque period. The sound quality of the recording on this first cycle is a bit too soft compared to the other tracks, which detracts from the listening experience. Herbert Howells appears twice with two sets of songs. King David is interpreted with an appropriately majestic piano that rolls the chords, and the Gavotte has graceful, nuanced, well-phrased lines, and a piano part that sets the mood for a courtly dance. Come sing and dance reveals a central strength of the recital, which is that Connolly's interpretations are operatic without going over the top; she knows when to sing out, as on the melismas, and when to use more restraint. John Ireland's songs are arguably the most exciting of the older pieces on the album (Richard Rodney Bennett's are from the late 20th century, and in 2011 he is the only composer is still living.) In Her song, which has a 1920s Austro-Germanic popular feel, and in Tryst, Connolly captures the mood of anticipation for a loved one. Michael (Dewar) Head is represented by two songs, and he gives singer and pianist a chance to show off their best, such as Connolly's canny emphasis of the right words in Foxgloves and Martineau's communicative piano interludes in Cotswold Love. A History of the Thé Dansant by Bennett is very different in character, as it was written in 1995, yet it fits well with the repertoire of the recording. One hears jazzy syncopations and wonderful rubato, such as in Tango, where Martineau plays out and takes center stage for a moment. This is a fantastic album, reflecting the mezzo-soprano's wise choice of repertoire that suits her voice perfectly.
Classical - Released June 9, 2017 | Wigmore Hall Live
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