Tag Archives: Accompaniments

Between Heaven and Earth

Sandrine Piau (soprano)

Accademia Bizantina

Stefano Montanari (conductor)

Naïve OP 30484Pau

reviewed by Neville Cohn

If you have not yet heard of Sandrine Piau before, I urge you to hurry to the nearest CD store to purchase a copy of this all-Handel compilation.

French-born Sandrine Piau is a sensationally fine soprano. Her singing doe not so much engage the attention as seize it in a vice-like grip. Much of the singing on this CD could fairly be described as electrifying; her singing inflames the imagination and quickens the pulse.

Listen to Disserratevi, o porte d’Averno from La Resurrezione and the brilliance with which she stamps her authority on the music. The suppleness and agility of her voice are phenomenal and she brings fearless attack and follow-through to the phrase.

Piau’s account of  With darkness deep from Theodora is given a deeply meaningful reading although the pronunciation of the English text is not always entirely convincing. An admirable ecstatic edge is brought to the singing of Rejoice greatly from Messiah.

In As steals the morn upon the night, Piau is joined by Australian-born, Paris-based  tenor Topi Lehtipuu; it’s a pleasing blend of vocal timbres.

Piau is hardly less convincing in Let the bright seraphim from Samson to which she brings immense authority and superb breath control. Luca Marzana’s trumpet obbligato is first rate, too.

There are a number of instrumental interludes of which I particularly admired the Largo from the Concerto Grosso opus 3 no 2, made memorable by Molly Walsh’s beautifully controlled oboe line. And even that most hackneyed of orchestral interludes – Arrival of the Queen of Sheba – sounds newly minted. Throughout, the accompaniments provided by Accademia Bizantina under the direction of Stefano Montanari are a model of period performance practice.

The Three-Cornered Hat – Spanish Fantasies


Slava Grigoryan (guitar)

Southern Cross Soloists

ABC Classics 476 6887

TPT: 70’ 50”

reviewed by Neville Cohn

Three-Cornered Hat

Three-Cornered Hat


Chiquitita la novia (Obradors); 5 Tonadillas (Granados); The Three-Cornered

Hat (Falla); Two Romances ( Luis de Milan); Castilian Lyrics (Rodrigo); Verlaine Songs (Brophy); Chamber Concerto (Shaun Rigney)


It is the instrumentalists who score highest in this attractive compilation. Guitarist Slava Grigoryan is in top form, not least in an accompanying role in a bracket of Tonadillas by Granados. Of course, the original score calls for piano accompaniment to the vocal line. But although the guitar lacks the tonal power of a piano, the accompaniments are played with a stylistic understanding and fragile beauty that go a long way to compensate for the guitar’s lower decibel levels.


In a suite drawn from Falla’s The Three-Cornered Hat, it is again the instrumentalists who take the lion’s share of the honours in a performance that is an absolute delight with clarinet and horn particularly on form, the latter exceptionally so in the Farruca. From first note to last, there is the most delightful engagement with the music. The CD is worth having for this alone. Paul Dean’s arrangement of the Falla original is masterly in that it preserves the essence of the original to a quite remarkable degree..


Gerard Brophy’s Verlaine Songs make for most appealing listening, too. Soprano Margaret Schindler does wonders with the spoken text in Your Voice, Deep and Low, informing each note with a most compelling, darkly bodeful quality. Grigoryan is well to the fore, too, with profoundly expressive playing in The White Moon, each note registering on the consciousness. And a heart-easing lift to the phrase underscores the dreamy, languorous, Andalucian-style interior mood of  It’s True. I rather think that Falla would have loved it. Peter Luff, whose horn playing is like a golden thread through this compilation, wonderfully enhances in A Great Black Slumber that brings Brophy’s work to a close.