Michigan-trained countertenor David Daniels broke through to a wide audience partly as a result of this 2000 recording, issued soon after he made his Metropolitan Opera debut. Daniels fearlessly plunged beyond the Baroque and Renaissance repertory into the Romantic era and even the early twentieth century, becoming essentially the first countertenor to do so. When it comes to Daniels' encounters with the individual composers represented on the disc, your mileage, as the phrase goes, may vary. However, it's hard to dispute the assertions that a) his voice was in one of those rare phases of fresh perfection that young singers sometimes hit on, and b) he had the personality to pull together what looks on the face of it like a set of material that's all over the musical map. Daniels is unlikely to start a trend among countertenors to record Schubert and Beethoven. His recordings of their songs here, with Schubert's Adelaide nicely chosen to balance Beethoven's setting, are certainly not unattractive, but the listener has a big hump of conceptual confusion to get over. With Vaughan Williams and Poulenc, however, Daniels is in a more comfortable situation. The biggest surprise is with Gounod, who certainly would not have been ready to hear a male soprano. But the sheer beauty of Daniels' vocal lines would have blown him away, and one suspects that Daniels was well aware of his strength here; four Gounod songs make an unorthodox choice for a varied vocal recital, but by the end of the group you may be hypnotized. The pieces from the more conventional countertenor repertory of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries here are in the nature of breathers framing the more unorthodox repertory. A minor flaw: the mastering of the varied forces is inadequate. This is a disc that belongs in any collection of countertenor singing, and its release in a budget line is welcome.
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AllMusic Review by James Manheim
Auf dem Wasser zu singen ("Mitten im Schimmer der spiegelnden Wellen"), song for voice & piano, D. 774 (Op. 72)
|Paride ed Elena, opera in 5 acts, Wq. 39|
|Chansons gaillardes, song cycle for voice & piano, FP 42|
Now that the sun hath veiled his light, sacred song for soprano & continuo ("An Evening Hymn"), Z. 193