Melba Recordings

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The Art of Nance Grant

Limelight (Australia)
Sarah Noble
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‘Melba celebrates the legacy of a much-loved Aussie soprano’

Melba Recordings delves into the archives to celebrate Nance Grant, the world-class Australian soprano who resisted overseas offers in favour of a career spent mostly in her native land. There, she became a fixture of the operatic and concert scene in repertoire ranging from Mozart to Wagner, Strauss to Stravinsky and even a foray into Sculthorpe.

This generous collection devotes one disc to art song – with another Australian music great, Geoffrey Parsons, at the piano – and a second to orchestral repertoire, including excerpts from some of Grant’s finest operatic roles. Sound quality is excellent in the recital with Geoffrey Parsons (even if the acoustic is a little stark) and Grant’s clear and crisp soprano is in engaging form, particularly in lilting renditions of five songs by Grieg, sung here in English translation, and in Hagemann’s witty Miranda. Disc Two, made up of various live recordings, is more variable in terms of audio quality, with a degree of hiss present on most tracks, but the thrill of live performance – and of Grant’s vibrant singing – is still well captured. With her authoritative yet flexible voice, she is particularly well suited to Beethoven’s Leonore and Donizetti’s Elisabetta, whose respective arias are among the disc’s best moments. While Sieglinde perhaps sits a little low for her, her Wesendonck-Lieder are beautifully heartfelt. For those who loved Nance Grant, and for those who missed out on her heyday, this is a welcome tribute.