Prayer: Voice & Organ – Magdalena Kozena, Christian Schmitt (2014)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/96 kHz | Time – 1:24:24 minutes | 1,38 GB | Genre: Classical
Studio Master, Official Digital Download | Source: prestoclassical.co.uk | Artwork: Digital Booklet | @ Deutsche Grammophon
Recorded: September 2013 at Konzertsaal der Hochschule für katholische Kirchenmusik und Musikpädagogik, Regensburg, Germany
The new recording from Magdalena Kožená features deeply-felt interpretations of sacred songs from the Baroque to the 20th Century.
In a rare recording collaboration, she is joined by virtuoso Christian Schmitt, in music for voice and organ from the sacred traditions of Germany, Austria, France and England, as well as her native Czechoslovakia.
Of course, the album includes music by J.S. Bach – a composer with whom Magdalena Kožená has long been associated – with sacred aspects of German song represented by Hugo Wolf and Schubert.
The French tradition is heard in the music of Bizet, Ravel and the great Parisian organist Maurice Duruflé.
. . . Magdalena Kozená takes a broad, dramatic approach to devotional music . . . If this is unlikely material for a singer whose bright timbre and temperament seem to predestine her for lyric, mischievous operatic roles, especially Dorabella, that challenge adds zest to the recital. –David J. Baker, Opera News
Kozená is a sensitive interpreter who avoids religious kitsch in the individual songs, and the sheer variety of the program also works in her favor: she brings together music from Purcell to Maurice Duruflé, and most of it is so sharply recontextualized by hearing it on the organ that it holds your attention. Further, she shifts effectively among the song types on display, deploying her characteristic alto-like tone in the likes of Verdi’s little-heard solo setting of the Ave Maria . . . and in the several Hugo Wolf pieces included, but cultivating a lighter and more radiant tone in the earlier art songs and the Baroque pieces . . . The sound environment of the “Hochschule für Katholische Kirchenmusik” auditorium in Regensburg is most congenial to the project. Recommended . . . –James Manheim, Allmusic.com
Mezzo-soprano Magdalena Kozená believes it is “impossible to draw a line between the religious and the personal”. It’s a philosophy shared by composers throughout the 19th century, whose music moved freely from church to home and concert hall. Kozená’s is a broad musical church, but vocally (and with the aid of organist Christian Schmitt’s elegant transcriptions) she makes it work . . . Her Wolf is is particularly luscious — never overworked but always emotionally direct, establishing the same flexible intimacy with the organ that we’d expect with a piano. Her covered middle and lower registers dissolve delicately into cloudy organ registrations, a musical “coup de théâtre” . . . Kozená sings superbly here, proving herself as flexible stylistically as vocally. –Alexandra Coghlan, Gramophone
The combination of Magdalena Kozena’s rich voice with the organ is something not to be missed . . . [a] brilliant program . . . Kozena performs each piece exquisitely. She rips through the coloratura in “The Blessed Virgin’s Expostulation” with lightning speed and absolute clarity. Schubert’s “Litanei” is gentle and contemplative, and Wolf’s “Zum Neuen Jahr” is full of joy and hope. Christian Schmitt takes full advantage of all the colors available to him at the organ . . . An all-around spectacular recording. –Erin Heisel, American Record Guide