Laura Aikin (soprano), Nicola Jurgensen (clarinet), Gerhard Zank (cello), Donald Sulzen (piano)
“Interest continues in Ned Rorem's vocal music – more than 300 solo songs and numerous songcycles.
There's little duplication between Laura Aikin's recital and those of Susan Graham and Carole Farley (above). Since Rorem often favours the mezzo voice, it's a surprise to find him in the high soprano stratosphere.
Jack l'éventreur ('Jack the Ripper') has lots of odd imagery: the murderer is dressed in tweed, with a rose between his teeth. The Six Songs forHigh Voice, to poems by Dryden and Browning, were scored originally for orchestra, but here arranged for piano. Aikin relishes the coloratura flourishes, but like all high sopranos isn't always able to get the words across. The Wallace Stevens settings, for voice, piano and cello, are linked by two instrumental solos, accentuating the sense of a journey through experience, a growth of feeling and understanding. In Ariel, on poems by Sylvia Plath, the clarinet takes over as a third voice; Nicola Jürgensen provides a spectacular obbligato to the slightly jazzy settings and here Aikin's words are splendidly clear.
Donald Sulzen's accompaniments accentuate Rorem's sometimes severe, sometimes complex keyboard writing. Aikin is a singer to watch, and this is a major addition to the discography.” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010