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 Recording of the Week  Kate Royal: A Lesson in Love

You’ll have to excuse my indulgence this week as Valentine’s Day doesn’t often coincide with a newsletter day, and as there happens to be a outstanding new release just out which is based on the theme of love, I couldn’t resist telling you about it today.

Kate Royal
Kate Royal

The first time I saw the track-listing for soprano Kate Royal’s new disc – ‘A Lesson in Love’ – I thought ‘what a mess’. At first glance it appears to be a random collection of songs from widely different styles, eras and languages put together on one disc in an almost random order. However, a little closer study and I quickly realised that there was a lot more to it than that. It is actually a brave and gutsy attempt at essentially creating her own song-cycle with a narrative running from beginning to end. Through French, German, English and American songs it tells the story of a young girl, her first experience of love, and her first relationship. We travel with her on her journey from an eager anticipation of love to her first kiss, the thrill of a blossoming love, the marriage and then ultimately the disappointment and anger when she realises that she has been betrayed.

All of the songs are in the first person so as you follow the texts in the booklet (which you have to do unless you’re multi-lingual) you can really associate with the excitement and different emotions which the girl experiences. I found myself really drawn into her character in a way that I wouldn’t have expected from a disc made up of such a mixture of well-known and unknown songs in three different languages. It was a bold move by Kate Royal and EMI making this disc as I can’t think of a clear precedent, but in my view it really works.

Kate Royal has a wonderful lush, rich voice, which she demonstrates to the full with the varied programme. She is superbly accompanied on the piano by Malcolm Martineau – one of the world’s most esteemed and respected accompanists. He is tender and expressive and has a knack for creating just the right mood for each song. There is a short video preview on the website (via the link below) where you can hear excerpts from the disc as well as Kate Royal talking about the concept behind the album.


Now I know this won’t be to everyone’s taste but one thing I should mention this week is that we’ve finally entered the twenty-first century in that you can now find us on facebook. My colleague Katherine tends to post most days a short comment or observation about some of the things we’ve been listening to here in the office and it is a good time to ‘like’ us as we currently have a 70 CD limited edition Deluxe Maria Callas box set to give away. Full details here.

Rest assured however, if you haven’t embraced this ‘social networking’ thing yet, nothing is changing here at Presto Classical – we’ll carry on exactly as before providing you with (hopefully) insightful comment on new releases and other interesting matters through the website and these weekly newsletters.

Kate Royal: A Lesson in Love

Kate Royal (soprano) & Malcolm Martineau (piano)

Available Formats: CD, MP3, CD Quality FLAC