The American-Armenian soprano Cathy Berberian was Luciano Berio's first wife and more importantly longstanding inspirational muse. Though she was influential in many of Berio's more important compositions such as "Circles" and "Sequenza III", his avant-garde "Recital 1" here is often equally fascinating. The "Folk Songs" in various languages and styles compiled by John Jacob Niles also gives Berberian the chance to demonstrate her unique instrument. Her lovely renditions of three songs by Kurt Weill perfectly conclude this extraordinary recital.
Cathy Berberian, singer and wife of Luciano Berio, was one of music's true originals. Equally adept at Monteverdi and the wildest effusions of the avant-garde, her performances brought her husband's music to new and appreciative audiences, while permitting Berio to create some of his most gripping work at the same time. Folk Songs is exactly what the title says--a collection of folk songs from around the world which gives Berberian the opportunity to demonstrate her ability to sing in different languages and styles. Recital 1 is something else again--a monologue for soprano that reveals the slow disintegration of her personality. It's a nervous breakdown in music. Berberian performs everything on this disc brilliantly. --David Hurwitz