No matter how passionate soprano Barbara Bonney gets, she never loses the unsullied purity of her tone. And in this 1994 disc of Schubert songs, Bonney often has cause to get passionate: her artless Der Hirt auf dem Felsen (D. 965) is transformed by passionate virtuosity, her mournful Mignon Lieder (D. 877) are transcended by passion, and her ecstatic Ganymed (D. 544) is transfigured by passion. But through all of it, Bonney's tone stays pure, the voice of stainless innocence in the face of sorrow, shame and even death. This is almost -- but not quite always -- a good thing. Bonney can surely sing the songs: her voice is sweet and her technique is graceful. And when it does work, it's wonderful. Bonney's Mignon Lieder and Ellens Gesang (D. 839) (aka "Ave Maria") are among the most affecting performances in later years. And in songs like Heidenröslein (D. 257), even Bonney's additional swoops, turns, and mordents don't sound affected, they sound inspired. But sometimes Bonney's voice seems just a wee bit twee. Her Nahe des Geliebten (D. 774) is luminously radiant but not simmeringly sensual. Her Gretchen am Spinnrade (D. 118) lacks erotic passion and is too wan to rise to revenge. Nevertheless, Bonney's Du Bist der Ruh (D. 776) so ineffable, so ethereal, and so translucent that one can hear right through her to the seraphim singing around the throne of God. This is a wonderful but not always successful recital.
AllMusic Review by James Leonard
Auf dem Wasser zu singen ("Mitten im Schimmer der spiegelnden Wellen"), song for voice & piano, D. 774 (Op. 72)
Der Hirt auf dem Felsen ("Wenn auf dem höchsten Fels ich steh'"), for voice, clarinet (or cello) & piano, D. 965 (Op. posth. 129)