Barbara Bonney's recital of the Schumanns' songs is prefaced, in the booklet-note, with a little feminist homily from the singer defending the reputation of Clara as woman and artist. Clara hardly needs that kind of defence nowadays, witness recent CDs by Skovhus and Stutzmann, plus several others not reviewed in these pages; her songs are far from patronized, let alone neglected. Yet, for all the advocacy of these singers, her inspiration remains for me intermittent, though thoroughly conventional songs are occasionally leavened by notably individual ones, such as, here, her very last and unpublished song, Loreley, which vividly conjures up that dangerous creature, particu lady in the hectic piano part, evocatively played by Ashkenazy. Indeed it seems that Heine most inspired her, as "Sic liebten sich beide" from her Op. 13 provoked a setting of economically intense meaning, to which Bonney finely responds.– Gramophone [9/1997].
In 1988 when this period-instrument Figaro was released, the style was still a novelty, and Ostman gained some notoreity for his rushed tempos as well as the scrawniness of his chamber orchestra, by far the smallest to play this great opera on CD. Yet when I read a glowing review by Andrew Porter in the New Yorker, I immediately bought the performance, shortly discovering that it was a true gem in the extensive Figaro catalog.
By Santa Fe Listener
Soul singer Barbara Massey and jazz guitarist Ernie Calabria paired up for this rare 1971 album. With Calabria having worked with Nina Simone and Harry Belafonte, among others, and Massey having sung backup for artists including Jimi Hendrix, Cat Stevens, and Herbie Hancock, the pairing was an inspired one and resulted in this superb soul-jazz outing. Massey has a dry yet passionate and evocative vocal quality that often brings to mind Grace Slick. Fittingly, the duo takes on Jefferson Airplane's "Somebody to Love," turning the Summer of Love anthem into a steamy and hypnotic soul-funk jam. Elsewhere, the duo touches upon such varying styles as folk, Latin, and psychedelic rock with cuts like "For You" and "Do You Know?," bringing to mind such similarly inclined acts as the Free Design and Bill Withers. Anyone who has even a passing interest in this kind of '70s cross-genre aesthetic will certainly want to seek out Prelude To…