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The Sea - Songs by Faure, Schubert & Debussy Import

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Audio CD, Import, December 11, 2012
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Editorial Reviews

Baritone Henk Neven's Onyx recording entitled The Sea features a diverse collection of songs by Faure, Schubert and Debussy focusing on unique colors and emotions inspired by water and the sea. The album was conceived during recording sessions in Suffolk for Neven's Onyx debut Auf einer Burg. While visiting the coastal town of Aldeburgh, Neven took a walk by the water - in the dark. The smells and sounds of the sea were overwhelming, and led the singer to reflect on the inspiration that the sea and the water have been for generations of poets and composers. Joined by pianist Hans Eijsackers, Neven sings selections including Faure's L'Horizon chimerique, Debussy's Beau soir and Schubert's Auf der Donau.

Product Details

  • Performer: Hans Eijsackers
  • Composer: Gabriel Faure, Franz Schubert, Claude Debussy
  • Audio CD (December 11, 2012)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Import
  • Label: Onyx Classics
  • ASIN: B009TI82TU
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #631,157 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Grady Harp HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 26, 2013
Format: Audio CD
More often than in the past artists who concentrate much of their professional concert time to the lieder genre are now gracing their recorded releases with collections f songs that follow a theme or inspiration rather than simply presenting `favorite operatic arias' or a recording of one composer's music. Such is the case with the extraordinarily handsome and intensely musical Dutch baritone Henk Neven. He explains the origin of this album here: `"During the recordings of my debut album 'Auf einer Burg' in Suffolk, I visited, after a day's work, the coastal town of Aldeburgh. It was winter-time and at six o'clock pitch dark already. I was walking along the sea. Darkness all around. Nevertheless I heard, smelt and felt the sea. Not visible but very present. We sat by the water for ages and indulged in fancies, philosophised, and written poetry lustily about the endless deep of the sea, about the horizon and what is behind it, about the similarity to our spiritual lives, about the currents that are as our lives; about the sea that takes us with it when we are tired of living; about the restless sailor who revives between storm and waves; about the solitary wife who, rocking her baby, is left alone; about the sea in which you pour out your heart... Have all these tears made the seawater so bitterly salt? The sea and the water have been a source of inspiration for many poets and their poems inspired the composers likewise. The songs that were created that way have inspired me'.

On this CD Henk Neven is brilliantly supported by his collaborator at the piano Hans Eijsackers. Neven's approach to all three composers displays enormous subtlety in shading of dynamic and tone.
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Format: Audio CD
Prior to this recital CD, I have heard this baritone in commanding form in Castor et Pollux and Saint Francois d'Assise (both on DVD). The present selection of 20+ French & German songs wisely mixes less-known items with old favorites, now a customary practice in song recitals. More importantly, however, is that it showcases Henk Neven's dark, velvety tone and considerable artistry in song. Henk's vocal control is impeccable, especially his ultra smooth diminuendos; his command of the languages never less than idiomatic. The interpretations are excellent, sympathetic to the text and artless in delivery; the phrasing has an almost poppy flair in its spontaneity. I actually think the Debussy songs are gorgeously characterized, exactly right in their objective, subtle French style, with veiled yet robust tone projection. His Faure group are similarly direct and forthcoming, without an ounce of undue sensuousness, but do try his La chanson de pecheur (one of Faure's honey-battered, albeit sad, earlier pieces) for some red-blooded passion. Henk's voice becomes instantly more operatic in the Schubert group, where his burnished baritone luxuriates in Schubert's opulent, lyrical writing. His Gruppe aus dem Tartarus does not have the earth-shattering intensity of a Hans Hotter, but is powerful enough to close this recital at a high point. Hans Eijsackers's attentive and tasteful accompaniment can't be praised highly enough.

On the theme of sea-inspired songs, Hyperion has made an outstanding recital with Sarah Walker, Thomas Allen and Roger Vignoles (now deleted from their CD catalogue, but can be downloaded from the label's website). It mixes songs in English, German, French and Russian written by a roster of composers, and “reads” like an encyclopedia about the sea.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Santa Fe Listener HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on December 13, 2012
Format: Audio CD
I was enthusiastic about Henk Neven's debut album, which was nominated for a Gramophone Award in 2011. the Dutch baritone was especially convincing in the ballads of Carl Loewe. He also had a prestigious start by being chosen as a New Generation artist by the BBC, one of the better predictors of a sterling career. Now in his early thirties - and clearly an attractive presence, as the cover photo shows -Neven devotes his second album to poems about the sea, although some are more vaguely about waves. In a note he says that he had an inspired moment by the Mediterranean near Marseilles and resolved then and there to pursue the sea as his theme.

But there are no sea shanties or barcarolles here, and only occasionally do the chosen composers - Debussy, Faure, and Schubert - evoke sea surges or waves musically. It was adventurous for a Dutch singer to try his hand at French melodies, which are so specialized that few sound convincing who aren't Francophones - Neven's vowels aren't perfect, and the nasality of his n's lacks enough honk. He isn't really sophisticated enough in his delivery of Debussy, but his warm, lyrical baritone suits Faure well; mostly Faure wrote in an amorous butterscotch mood all the time, and Neven's legato glides along nicely.

I was cheering for him in the French selections, but his Schubert really needs improvement. German comes easily to Dutch speakers, so there's no linguistic hitches. the problem is that his interpretations are generic and safe. there's almost no difference between Faure and Schubert where there should be a great deal. Gliding warmly through German lieder is pleasant, but great singers have preceded Neven, and he doesn't rise to their challenge. Despite good recorded sound and an assured, musical accompanist in Hans Eijsackers, I came away feeling that Neven was treading water.
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The Sea - Songs by Faure, Schubert & Debussy
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