Catriona Morison - The dark night has vanished - The Times

Do not believe the title of the impressive debut recital by the Scottish mezzo-soprano Catriona Morison, The Dark Night Has Vanished. How could gloom possibly vanish when so much of her German-language programme deals with the typical lieder subjects of tearful farewells, lost loves and death? At the same time, it’s impossible not to be joyful over Morison herself, the chief prizewinner at the 2017 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition and a rising glory ever since.

Hers is a voice of many colours, wielded with innate musicianship and sensitivity across its considerable range. Sometimes she’s a soaring soprano, pinging the top notes with ease; elsewhere she’s a dusky mezzo, coated in velvet. Whatever the tone, whatever the repertoire (Schumann, Brahms, Grieg and the lesser-known Josephine Lang), you want to keep listening, just as you do with her pianist partner, Malcolm Martineau, masterly from the pealing first bars of Grieg’s spring song Gruss.

Both know that you don’t have to rage and scream to impress. Listen elsewhere to the delicate colouring Morison gives to the word pein(pain), as if avoiding touching a wound, or the gentle, recessed beauties each of them float in Brahms’s Sapphische Ode.

The sometimes harmonically adventurous songs by Lang, championed by Mendelssohn, but not a composer with an easy life, fully deserve a place at this banquet. Everything is presented in a typically well-balanced recording from the producer and sound engineer Philip Hobbs.

The Times
25 February 2021