Creamy-voiced soprano Martina Janková explores different kinds of love and human understanding through a variety of song cycles on this album aptly titled Voyage. With Gérard Wyss accompanying her in the most elegant, tasteful manner, Janková begins the album with a song cycle called The Nursery by Mussorgsky, which is the highlight of the entire CD. Janková truly gets into character, many characters, as a child telling a string of tales to her nanny. Janková is impassioned and breathless when talking about the bogeyman, dramatic as she recounts a beetle's attack, swoops and shrieks as she talks about her cat. Her attention to the diction is quite noteworthy, for it is clear and precise with its rolled Rs. There is warmth, core, and fullness to her mid-low voice, and her high notes have a fast vibrato and urgency that recall Frederica von Stade. The Strauss songs are each about a different flower. The first song, "Kornblumen," is very sweet and light, with bell-like clarity. However, one can hear one of Janková's weaknesses, which is shaky high notes, such as on the word "Seelen." Wyss' piano is extremely tender and sensitive throughout the cycle, and one can hear the droplets of water that tinkle in the beginning of "Wasserrose." These are all solid interpretations of romantic and young love by the soprano, though perhaps the German phrasing could be shaped a little bit more. Not surprisingly, she is very strong in her native tongue of Czech on both of the Dvorák cycles. The Love Songs are lovely and moving, demonstrating a more mature understanding life and love. "Death dwells" is dark in character, and it shows off her full lower voice. Yet she can quickly change her character to somewhat hopeful at the end. In "Now as by that house" Janková alternates between restraint and passion, which creates an exciting mood for the listener. The second Dvorák cycle of Biblical Songs, which concludes the album, also suits her voice and personality very well. Her style is simpler here, as is suitable for these very hymn-like songs. She is vulnerable, exposed, and honest as she pleads in "Lord my shield," and more joyous yet still pious in "By the shore" The Schoeck seem to follow similarly in the mode of the Strauss songs, and they show off her low voice. Despite some inconsistencies in her voice, Janková is certainly a lovely artist who blossoms when singing the right repertoire and a downright exciting one when impassioned.
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AllMusic Review by V. Vasan
|Mädchenblumen, Op. 22|
|Love Songs, Op. 83 (B 160, 1888)|
|Biblical Songs, Op. 99 (B 185, 1894)|