This be his verse
Songs by N Boulanger, R Clarke, E Mayer, C Schumann and Kathleen Tagg
Golda Schultz (soprano), Jonathan Ware (piano)
Alpha Classics ALPHA 799 58:46 min
The classical music industry still too often pays lip service to the idea of centering the creative voices of women, but This be his verse is the real deal. Here is a thoughtful celebration of women’s songs, performed with talent and imagination by stellar South African soprano Golda Schultz and exceptional pianist Jonathan Ware.
In Clara Schumann’s four opening songs, Schultz brings a wonderful sense of warmth and wonder. An alternate version of Erlkönig by little-known 19th-century composer Emilie Mayer vibrates with as much heart-pounding drama as Schubert’s famous setting, and finds Ware in particularly fine form during scintillating passages accompanying the “voice” of the Erlking himself. A handful of Rebecca Clarke’s powerful songs include a truly ferocious setting of ‘The Tiger’, while Schultz seems particularly at home with the bright works of Nadia Boulanger.
The vibrant music of composer Kathleen Tagg and poet Lila Parmer This be his verse provides a welcome contemporary account of the female experience. Commissioned by the performers themselves, the cycle riffs on Philip Larkin’s famous poem and sparkles with dark humor and hard-hitting energy, and Schultz’s voice rises and stings by turns.
Too bad there isn’t really any musicological detail in the album’s booklet. For such a skilfully compiled repertoire, it’s a shame not to have more information about the individual works. However, in all other respects This be his verse is an exceptional album: skilfully programmed and performed with tremendous verve.