Composers: de Falla, Granados, Mompou and Montsalvatge
Artists: Isabel Leonard, mezzo-soprano • Brian Zeger, pianist
Label: Delos / Naxos
CD Release Date: 12 May 2015
Item: DE 3468
The gifted, glamorous and versatile mezzo-soprano, Isabel Leonard has graced most of the world’s major opera stages, including the Met, to great acclaim. In her first album for Delos, she pays heartfelt tribute to her Argentinian ancestry with a varied program of Spanish songs by de Falla, Granados, Mompou and Montsalvatge, and demonstrates her innate feel for the Spanish musical idiom in interpretations that are sultry, melancholic and passionate. One of America’s most appreciated piano collaborators, Brian Zeger reinforces the program’s overall Hispanic aura and flavors with subtle support from the keyboard.
“Leonard’s darkly lustrous mezzo-soprano is ideal for the plum role of Rosina. The American singer commands the wide range, the coloratura agility and the striking physical beauty, charm and stage presence to make an audience take the heroine to its heart.” –John von Rhein, Chicago Tribune
“That and more can be said about American soprano Isabel Leonard’s Spanish language song recital, Preludios(Preludes). The youngest of these singers – she turned 31 in 2013, when she made this recording – her natural depth of tone and gravitas seem ideal for songs by Federico Mompou, Manuel de Falla, Federico Garcia Lorca, Enrique Granados, Xavier Montsalvatge, and Joaquin Valverde Sanjuan.
The songs themselves are melodically and harmonically splendid . . . Leonard’s response is so beautiful and heartfelt that hitting “repeat” is in order. Ditto for virtually everything else she sings, including her occasional forays on high, when the sound is absolutely gorgeous.
. . . all of Leonard’s instincts are right on. It will be interesting to discover how her interpretations grow with the passage of time.” -Jason Victor Serinus, San Francisco Classical Voice
“CD of the Week: It’s not surprising that American mezzo Isabel Leonard’s new recital CD comprises songs from Spain; the daughter of an Argentine mother, Leonard loves singing in Spanish, and it shows throughout this recording in her ebullient performances, whether it’s the songs of the great Manuel de Falla or folk tunes from poet Federico Garcia Lorca. It’s also nice to hear Frederico Mompou and Enrique Granados, while Xavier Montsalvatge’s masterly cycle, Cinco canciones negras (Five Black Songs) shows off Brian Zeger’s sensitive piano accompaniment and Leonard’s natural exuberance singing this music. It’s true that Cinco is the go-to Montsalvatge, even though he composed so many other enduring, but rarely heard, songs. But any spotlight on this Catalan master is always welcome, and Leonard’s vocal beauty makes the entire disc a must-hear.” -Kevin Filipski, The Flip Side