A Worthwhile Discovery!
A friend of mine, student in music history, recently made me discover the practically unknown Irish, Welsh and Scottish songs of Beethoven. These originate from contracts between Beethoven and a folklore loving Scot editor. The composer had to arrange original melodies for voice, piano, violin and cello, while famous poets, such as Robert Burns and Sir Walter Scott provided original lyrics based on the traditional ones.
The tunes themselves are charming. Even with the Viennese classical arrangements of Beethoven, one can still taste the flavor of the Celtic culture they emanate from.
The artists chose an interpretation that suits well the ambiguous folk-yet-classical aspect of the work. A fortepiano of beautiful timbre is used. The strings make use of a relaxed sound, not fiddle-like but not concerto-like either.
Likewise, the three singers do not give the impression of singing opera or lieder. They do not hesitate to adapt their diction to the meaning of the text, like in the touching "On the Massacre of Glencoe".
In a word, the interpretation is natural, something that is often lacking in classical music today.
Overall, this CD is a worthwhile discovery for classical and Celtic music fans, as well as vocal music lovers who want to hear something different.