Kate Royal - (A) Lesson in Love
The bliss and drawbacks of falling in love have surely inspired more songs than any other human activity. Kate Royal’s beautifully sung new album, with finely characterised piano-playing from Malcolm Martineau, ranges imaginatively across a spectrum of composers who have captured the first pangs, the heartaches and the dashed hopes that can make life such a maelstrom of emotion. The programme is weighted in favour of expectation and fulfilment, climaxing in Duparc’s sensuous “Extase”, but the spectre of infidelity then looms in “Am Sonntag Morgen” from Brahms’s Op 49, reflecting on the fickleness of men. “An ein Veilchen”, another song from the same set that considers the faithlessness of women, is not included.
The disc is entitled “A Lesson in Love”, a lesson that begins with William Bolcom’s languid, cabaret-style “Waitin’”. In the waiting game, Royal catches the bright optimism of Schumann’s “Jemand” and the folk-like girlish glee of Wolf’s “Zwischen Bergen, liebe Mutter”. As love blossoms, Wolf’s “Erstes Liebeslied eines Mädchens” finds Royal in rapturous voice; in Schubert’s “Rastlose Liebe” she embraces the anxieties and strivings of “bliss without peace” and in Copland’s “Pastorale” a comforting contentment.
When things start to go wrong, she can encompass the sadness of Schubert’s “Du liebst mich nicht”, the rage of Wolf’s “Verschling’ der Abgrund” and the resignation of Copland’s “Heart we will forget him”, but this girl is not giving up: a reprise of Bolcom’s “Waitin’” suggests that the whole cyclical experience is worth going through again.