KOZENA Songs my mother taught me 4776665

An imaginative and attractive programme of Czech songs from Czech mezzo Magdalena Kozená.

With her gleaming, tangy voice still in its first freshness, Kozená is a predictably ardent advocate of these songs, singing with an ideal balance of subtlety and earthy directness. She uses a bold, "open" tone in lusty numbers such as Dvorák's The Strings Are Tuned and Janácek's Musicians, and brings an unaffected simplicity to a clutch of charming mock-Elizabethan lute songs (here guitar-accompanied) by Petr Eben.
Kozená combines delightfully with soprano Dorothea Röschmann in a pair of Dvorák's Moravian duets, one wild, the other insinuating, and relishes the Tchaikovskian romanticism of Novák's mini-cycle Fairytale of the Heart. Pianist Malcolm Martineau matches her all the way in colour and rhythmic guile.

. . . lucky daughter and wise mama! . . . It's fine music, magnificently performed by Kozená and Malcolm Martineau . . . Even the most hardened lover of Lieder will find music to surprise and delight here . . . the recording's eponymous 'Songs my mother taught me', is as seductive as ever, with Kozená bringing a very special innerness to her interpretation . . . the piano walks an elegant pace behind the voice, and what a voice Kozená produces, rich creamy tone in the lower register and a faultless legato . . . If she is in particularly fine voice here and Martineau on top form too, then so are their guests. Dorothea Röschmann joins Kozená for two of Dvorák's "Moravian Duets" and so well do the two voices fit together, hand in glove, that you can only hope that someone will record all these duets with these singers. Michael Freimuth plays an elegant guitar in Petr Eben's "Songs with Lute" . . . Kozená sings it as if her life depended on it.

Her smoothly phrased performance captures the nostalgia of this music, with which she is very much at home. Indeed, this feels like the finest recording she has made since her much earlier disc of Czech love songs and in many ways the repertory is complementary. Singing in a language she really did learn from her mother, Kozená sounds at her most relaxed . . . The mezzo opens with an unaccompanied folksong, and elsewhere benefits from the sympathetic partnership of Malcolm Martineau . . . there's a sense of something special about this recital. Kozená clearly cares deeply about this repertoire and she throws herself into it. The result is a privileged sense of keying into a rich culture indeed.

Here is a superbly well thought-out recital of Czech song from the late 18th century to near the later 20th. The diversity of style is huge with Dvorák, Janácek and Martinu rubbing shoulders with Novák, Rösler, Schulhoff and that most fascinating of late 20th-century Czech composers, Petr Eben, not to mention a dash of folksong by way of an opening flourish. It is a heady cocktail and superbly delivered. Magdalena Kozená is more than in command of every interpretative demand. There is a great deal of passion, not least in the well-known warhorse 'Songs my mother taught me' . . . every word is invested with meaning. The lute-accompanied Eben songs are real gems and bring out Kozená's remarkable range of tone. But, in truth, there is a huge amount to admire everywhere. A beautifully recorded conspectus of Czech song, with a Moravian twist.

With her dazzling looks, Magdalena Kozená is surely one of the most glamorous women on the operatic stage. That's even before she opens her mouth. And when she does -- well, you can't argue with that voice . . . [Kozená] has got everything . . . seems as warm as her voice, relaxed and ready to laugh. Those high spirits illuminate much of the repertoire she's bringing to the Barbican, which also features in her new album: Czech songs from Dvorák and Janácek to Petr Eben, entitled "Songs My Mother Taught Me". The music also contains a gentle but deep vein of pathos.

Magdalena Kozená gehört zweifellos zu den glanzvollsten Persönlichkeiten der Opernwelt. Und das schon, bevor sie auch nur den Mund öffnet. Und wenn sie es tut ż nun, wer könnte etwas gegen diese Stimme sagen ... Kozená hat einfach alles.

Magdalena Kozená est certainement l'une des femmes les plus séduisantes sur la scčne lyrique. Et cela avant męme qu'elle n'ouvre la bouche. Et lorsqu'elle le fait ż eh bien, on ne peut discuter avec cette voix [...] Kozená a tout pour elle.


With her beautiful voice complemented by good looks, Kozená has become a superstar. Her mezzo has an instrumental quality, a bronze ring, and she produces consistently gorgeous sound. She is also a very fine singer . . . That she is singing in her native language is a big plus . . . This recital is lovely . . . A major strength of this recital is its variety of material . . .

Beautifully recorded and accompanied, this is not just a showcase for an exceptional voice, but a fascinating conspectus of Czech song, with a Moravian twist.

. . . sehr persönlich und warm ist der Tonfall, man merkt, wie viel der Sängerin am heimatlichen Repertoire liegt . . . [sie] streift ein noch wenig erkundetes, kaum bekanntes Repertoire, das kennen zu lernen sich unbedingt lohnt.

In Kozenás Interpretation der Lieder ist keine Kunstanstrengung zu spüren, sie gestaltet alle 34 Titel mit dem hier notwendigen "Herzblut". Dabei wird die Musik keineswegs über einen Leisten geschlagen, stilistische Nuancen und unterschiedliche Erzählhaltungen sind auch für den deutschen Hörer, der die Sprache und ihre Dialektvarianten nicht versteht, deutlich erkennbar. Dem brillanten Klavierbegleiter Malcolm Martineau scheint die Sanges- und Tanzlust der Tschechen ins französische Blut übergegangen zu sein. Dorothea Röschmanns Sopran mischt sich in zwei Dvorák-Duetten sehr gut mit Kozenás Mezzo, diskret und empfindsam fällt die Begleitung Michael Freimuths in Ebens Lautenliedern zu mittelalterlicher Poesie aus.

. . . [man] ist vom ersten, noch unbegleiteten Stück "Wär' ich eine Erdbeere" an sofort von der feinen Stimmung dieser Platte gefangen -- und von der dunkel lockenden Mezzostimme, die sie aufgenommen hat. Der Kozena-Effekt . . . stellt sich sofort ein. Dabei hat diese Musik etwas Unprätentiöses, dem man umso gebannter lauscht, weil diese so gesunde Stimme an Farben dazugewonnen hat . . . eine unbedingte Repertoire-Bereicherung. Von den süchtig machenden Sehnsuchtsschattierungen diese voller gewordenen, dabei entspannten Stimme ganz zu schweigen.

Sie ist ideal für Klassikeinsteiger, gerade in der Weihnachtszeit, in der die Sehnsucht nach der wohlig warmen Küche und der dort vor sich hin singenden Mutter am größten wird. Kozená wiegt den Hörer mit herzenswarmer Stimme, die alle Emotionen abdeckt. Malcolm Martineau am Klavier und Michael Freimuth auf der Gitarre nehmen den singenden Tonfall auf und komplettieren so diese wunderschöne CD.