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Well Realized

Varda Kotler and
Israel Kastoriano -
recommended by
GEOFF PEARCE

'... partnership and sensitivity ...'

L'Heure Romantique - Varda Kotler and Israel Kastoriano

This glowing representation of Israeli singer Varda Kotler is testament to the range of music she can convincingly sing. It is also much more than that, as the partnership and sensitivity shown by and between Kotler and pianist Israel Kastoriano will long stay in my memory. I congratulate both artists on this great disc.

With the opening piece, Music for a While by Purcell, you feel in the presence of a true partnership, with every nuance beautifully portrayed.

Listen — Purcell: Music for a While
(track 1, 2:44-3:42) :

The vocal line is expressive, and whilst with this sort of song, I would have perhaps preferred a more Emma Kirkby type straightness, I could not fault the vocalist's style and purity of tone.

The Mahler songs were really well performed, and again the characterization was very well realized. I liked especially Ich atmet' eninen linden Duft — the fragrance of the Linden branch filled the room with the memory and fragrance of the love of the giver. The climax was superb, and so was the accompaniment.

Listen — Mahler: Ich atmet' einen linden Duft
(track 3, 0:05-0:47) :

Five Schumann songs followed, all very well performed by both artists. Although these are all well-known, I hadn't heard the last one, Erstes Grün, in which green grass shoots can heal the pangs of love, and I found it quite remarkable. The song's two different characteristics were highlighted beautifully: the pianist is a real poet.

Listen — Robert Schumann: Erstes Grün
(track 9, 0:00-0:36) :

I hadn't thought of Bizet as a song composer, but in the next five songs he showed that he could certainly hold his head up there with the best of them. In a couple of places in Ma vie a son secret and Tarentelle, I felt the singer was not as comfortable or as secure with the higher notes, especially when loud, but this certainly didn't spoil the disc for me. The Tarentelle had a particularly lovely middle section. In the final piece, Guitare, pianist and singer evoked the spirit and character of the title instrument with taste and flair.

Listen — Bizet: Guitare
(track 14, 0:00-0:45) :

Next, rather an odd song by André Caplet, admirably executed, in which a crow is flattered and tricked out of a piece of cheese by a wiley fox, requiring absolute partnership between voice and piano.

Listen — André Caplet: Le Corbeau et le Renard
(track 15, 0:14-1:27) :

The Ravel, Vocalise-Étude (en form de Habanera), one of those pieces that pops up in many incarnations, was beautifully brought off, and Kotler showed real sensitivity realizing the underlying harmonies.

Listen — Ravel: Vocalise-Étude
(track 16, 1:26-2:17) :

This was followed by two songs without words by Paul Ben-Haim, both evocative and charming, and the artists had a familiarity with this composer that really showed, as it did with the following four songs — the beautiful little Boskovich song How beautiful you are and three Canteloube selections from Songs of the Auvergne. I especially liked La pastura als camps.

Listen — Joseph Canteloube: La pastura als camps
(track 21, 0:00-0:37) :

This was full of character and as fine an interpretation as one would want to hear. I missed the beautiful lush instrumentation, but the pianist was superb.

The last two pieces rounded off this recital admirably, with quite a change of mood. Firstly 'Parto parto ma tu ben mio' from La Clemenza di Tito showed Varda Kotler's depth as a Mozart singer.

Listen — Mozart: Parto parto (La Clemenza di Tito)
(track 23, 2:30-3:16) :

Finally, 'Nobles, Seigneurs, Salut!', an aria from Les Huguenots by Meyerbeer (a composer sadly neglected today). Here the singer showed fantastic characterization and flexibility.

Listen — Meyerbeer: Nobles, Seigneurs, Salut! (Les Huguenots)
(track 24, 0:14-1:27) :

So many great singers and accompanists record these days, and anyone putting down music to disc is also compared to many of the greats from the past. Kotler and Kastoriano acquit themselves admirably, and both artists are of first rank. The range of music covered on this single CD is refreshing, and one does not tire of listening.

Copyright © 5 May 2015 Geoff Pearce,
Sydney, Australia

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L'HEURE ROMANTIQUE - VARDA KOTLER AND ISRAEL KASTORIANO

VARDA KOTLER

ISRAEL KASTORIANO

HENRY PURCELL

GUSTAV MAHLER

ROBERT SCHUMANN

GEORGES BIZET

ANDRE CAPLET

MAURICE RAVEL

PAUL BEN-HAIM

WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART

GIACOMO MEYERBEER

VOCAL MUSIC

PIANO MUSIC

ISRAEL

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