The Captive Nightingale – Elena Xanthoudakis

Elena-Xanthoudakis

This album of rare Romantic lieder and chamber music is one of the latest offering from Signum Classics, combining soprano voice, clarinet and piano, breathing life into these forgotten and neglected pieces.

The collection of songs celebrates the songs that were sung in homes, where ‘in every genteel home’ there was usually a piano, usually someone who sang and anyone else who could play an instrument could join in with an obbligato part. In the nineteenth century, the clarinet was becoming technically better than it had been in the past, and thanks to composers being influenced by clarinettists of their time, it was gaining popularity.

The collection itself are all lovely choices, and I enjoyed hearing the clarinet having moments throughout to shine on its own or while complimenting Elena Xanthoudakis’ vocal. This is particularly evident in ‘Die gefangene Nachtigall’ (The Captive Nightingale, from which the album is named after), where the clarinet represents the trapped nightingale dreaming of being freed from his captivity, as the song ponders on whether the nightingale will ever know freedom again.

‘Der Hirt auf dem Felsen’ (The Shepherd on the Rock), composed by Schubert as a display piece for a renowned opera singer, provides one of the highlights of the album where the clarinet has a long introductory section before the voice enters and is given the opportunity to wind through various different colours and moods. Xanthoudakis does an excellent job with this as she tells the story and is able to switch from joyful and bright to woeful, quiet and contemplative within the space of a few notes, wonderfully. The song choices suit this, where songs such as ‘Heimathlied’ (Song of Home) and ‘Seit ich ihn gesehen’ (Ever Since I Saw Him) call for reflection on the theme of home, and ‘Der Hirt und das Meerweib’ (The Shepherd and the Mermaid) demand the mermaid’s song to be as virtuosic as possible, as we hear the tale of the shepherd being lured to his fate into the waters.

This is an album which I was intrigued to listen to, mainly for the combination of clarinet, voice and piano which I did enjoy. Xanthoudakis’ voice throughout is exceptional, and masters the intricacies of the atmospheric changes in each ‘story’ within the pieces. If you are someone who likes Romantic works and would like to hear some lost gems, then this is definitely something for you.

Emma Longmuir

Emma Longmuir

I am 23 years old and I live in the Highlands.

I started writing for NE:MM back in 2013, after spending a happy three years living in Newcastle and graduating from a music degree at Newcastle University, studying all sorts of music from rock, to music in the Holocaust, to classical music. After this I moved to Manchester to do a postgraduate teaching degree and I'm now working in the Highlands, teaching woodwind instruments in various schools.

I love all sorts of music, but you'll mainly find me in the classical section of the blog writing reviews on new releases.
Emma Longmuir

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