About the album
INTO THE FIRE
Joyce DiDonato, Brentano Quartet
Available September 7, 2018
Recorded live at London’s celebrated Wigmore Hall, this captivating recital by Joyce DiDonato and the Brentano Quartet was conceived around Jake Heggie’s song cycle Camille Claudel: Into the Fire, a work written for DiDonato – she describes it as “one of most moving projects I’ve ever been part of”. Songs by Debussy and Strauss and a quartet movement by Guillaume Lekeu complete the programme, which prompted the Financial Times to write that “the beauty and range” of DiDonato’s singing “are surely now at their impressive peak.”
Admirers of DiDonato’s singing will find much to enjoy. The American mezzo casts a glimmering, romantic sheen over the half-dozen Strauss songs... The prevailing bittersweet mood is nicely judged, the Brentano String Quartet are expert accompanists, and DiDonato brings Camille Claudel to life with star quality. This was a rewarding evening at Wigmore Hall, and is so again here.
DiDonato immediately establishes her mastery by voicing Claudel's opening line, "Last night, I went to sleep completely naked," with a perfectly sweet, extended pianissimo. When her utterances become more dramatic, her tone is convincing, her commitment total. As Claudel sings on the night before she is taken away, DiDonato conveys her fear, powerlessness, and mounting paranoia. Years later, in 1929, when Jessie Lipscomb, who had shared a Paris studio with Claudel, visits her and snaps a historic photo of her friend, DiDonato sings, "Thank you for coming" with heartbreaking sweetness. Her surety and timing are unforgettable as she sings, unaccompanied, "A photograph? Just me and you. Yes. I understand. I must be very still." Equally striking is how she holds the last note of the last line, "Thank you for remembering . . . me," until it fades into nothingness.
Stereophile's Recording of January 2019
Release date: September 14, 2018
Number of Discs: 1
Label: Warner Classics/Parlophone