While she is much beloved in her native Britain, for whatever fluke of timing or circumstance, soprano Felicity Lott has never achieved international superstar status, although her stellar vocal qualities -- clarity, purity, flexibility, and warmth -- combined with her exceptional skill as a singing actress, particularly in comedy, make her a singer who deserves to be widely known. Her recordings from the 1990s and early 2000s, including Fiordiligi in Charles Mackerras' 1994 Così fan tutte and her version of Schumann's Frauenliebe und -leben are testaments to her tremendous talent. This 2009 recording of light songs in English showcases Lott's gifts for etching memorable characters in pieces lasting just a few minutes, as well as demonstrating her emotional range. The collection is notable for its diversity, with the songs of classical composers like Britten, Poulenc, Barber, Hahn, Gounod, and Saint-Saëns happily commingling with Berlin, Cole Porter, Coward, Kern, and Flanders & Swann. Lott was in her early sixties when she recorded this album, so perhaps it's inevitable that her voice would have lost some of its freshness and flexibility. In the "popular" songs, which make less technical demands on the performer, Lott shines and is fully convincing. In some of the songs, though, such as Britten's Fancie, she sounds strained and makes the listener wish she had made this recording a decade earlier. Although her voice is diminished, overall her performances are fabulous. Standout selections include Porter's "The Physician" and "Miss Otis Regrets," Coward's "Mad About the Boy," Barber's uncharacteristically bluesy "Solitary Hotel," Kern's "You Can't Make Love By Wireless," and Flanders & Swann's hilarious "A Word on My Ear." Pianist Graham Johnson is a longtime collaborator with Lott, and the two have real chemistry in the interplay between the vocal and instrumental parts. The sound is clean, but the miking seems somewhat distant, so the volume may need to be adjusted.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Eddins
|The Child's Garden of Verses|