Emma Kirkby Collection
In some musical circles it is still de rigueur to refer to approved female singers by the Christian name. Whether personal friends or not, Victoria and Janet, Eva and Maria are household familiars. Nowadays (such is fame) nobody acknowledges the divine Emmy (Destinn), but all respond without doubt or delay to 'Emma'. And here she is, duly celebrated in a collection which none of the grandes dames alluded to above could quite emulate. She sings in a repertoire so old that it is almost entirely fresh, and in a way that has all the assurance and accomplishment of the professional while retaining the modest scale and style of the amateur.
Perhaps Sigismondo d'India's distraught plaintiff in Piangono al pianger mio needs a little more full-bodied passion. Maybe Monteverdi's girl who sings in such lively rhythms of her wish to die (Voglio di vita uscir) could do with a stronger thrust, a fuller reserve of power. There are times when, even in less ardent music, one wishes that the every-present charm would give way to something more disturbed and disturbing. Yet nothing could be more touching in its restrained sadness than her singing of Dowland's