Our Recording of the Month is not just a fascinating celebration of a 19th-century legend, it’s a debut recital from a marvellous young singer from whom I predict we will hear a lot more. A Tribute to Pauline Viardot is the brainchild of Swiss mezzo-soprano Marina Viotti and French early music wizard Christophe Rousset (Aparté AP290). 

Viardot made her mark through what was by all accounts a beautiful voice paired with a fiery dramatic stage presence. “One of the greatest artists who comes to mind in the past and present history of music,” declared Berlioz. She knew everyone from Clara Schumann to Charles Dickens and sang for Wagner in the first run-through of Tristan und Isolde. 

on the record dec

“What a peach of a disc this is . . . Viotti’s instrument is a highly versatile one, capable of both incredible lushness and transfixing intimacy,” writes Justine Nguyen, revelling in the disc’s opener, the triumphant Amour, viens rendre à mon âme from Gluck’s Orphée et Eurydice, which Berlioz himself transposed for her. “It’s dazzling of course, but also utterly involving for the listener, who feels every bit the rollercoaster of emotions that...