Pure Diva

Michael Quinn
The Classical Review (UK)

Soprano Cheryl Barker pays tribute to fellow Australian Joan Hammond on Melba Recordings.

Soprano Cheryl Barker has recorded an album of arias and songs associated with her one-time teacher and fellow Australian soprano, Dame Joan Hammond, for Melba Recordings.

Pure Diva is described as a “very personal tribute,” and one, says Barker, who studied with Hammond at the Victorian College of the Arts in Melbourne, “that feels as if it’s been a long time coming.”

The program includes some of Hammond’s signature arias – including Tatyana’s Letter Scene from Tchaikovsky’s Yevgeny Onegin, the Willow Song from Verdi’s Otello, and ‘Elle a fui, la tourterelle’ from Les contes d’Hoffmann by Offenbach, as well as other arias by Verdi, Dvořák and Korngold – with orchestral accompaniment from the Queensland Symphony Orchestra conducted by Guillaume Tourniaire.

Barker also sings four songs with piano accompaniment that were a regular part of Hammond’s concert repertoire, including the Australian composer Ronald Settle’s Shadows, the traditional Irish air The Last Rose of Summer, Henry Bishop’s Home Sweet Home, and Eric Coates’ The Green Hills of Somerset.

Barker has previously recorded a collection of arias by Puccini, conducted by Richard Bonynge, for Melba Recordings.

The booklet notes for Pure Diva were some of the last written by the leading commentator on the sung voice and The Classical Review contributor, John Steane.