RACHMANINOV; SIBELIUS Songs (Imbrailo & Hogarth)
Making their song debut on Linn records, Jacques Imbrailo and Alisdair Hogarth offer a deeply satisfying two-part recital. Sibelius takes up the first half, Rachmaninov the second. Each part charts a trajectory towards greater ardency and emotion. With Sibelius, then, we go from the earnest Five Christmas Songs to the melodic glories of the Five Songs Op 37; with Rachmaninov from the witty ‘Letter to KS Stanislavsky’ to the passions of ‘Sing not to me, beautiful maiden’ and ‘Spring Waters’.
Imbrailo is an excellent guide throughout. The singing is technically impressive and the voice is youthful and focused, virile but with a constant hint of vulnerability. He comes close to pushing himself too far at the top of the voice, one feels – but never does. He’s stern and upstanding in the more sensible early Sibelius and unleashes more and more passion as we get further into the selection. He doesn’t quite have the vocal generosity of Tom Krause in the swelling melodies of Op 37, nor can he flood the line as generously as, say, Jamie Barton does in the selection she chose for her debut disc (Delos, 2/17); but this is exciting, heartfelt and moving singing, supported with great warmth by Hogarth at the piano.
Hogarth rises impressively to the challenges of the Rachmaninov too, where Imbrailo is no less fine. Bigger, grander (and more Slavic-sounding) voices might remain the preference for some listeners but here, as in the Sibelius, Imbrailo’s handsome timbre and focus bring ample rewards – as do the sensitivity, care and intelligence of both performers.
Throw in a generous and engaging booklet note from Andrew Mellor and characteristically high-quality engineering from Linn, and you have a rewarding release.